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So the laft fhall be firft, and the firft last; for
What Herefy is. Why permitted by God. And the great Usefulness and Advantages of it to the Church.
Preached before the Prince of ORANGE,
I COR. xi. 19.
For there must be alfo Herefies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifeft among you.
T is a great Stumbling-block to fome among us, and almoft tempts them to doubt of the Truth of our Religion, to fee how many Sects and Divifions there are at this Day among Chriftians. The removing this Stumbling-block is the Thing I defign at this Time; and my Text lays a very good Foundation towards it; St. Paul having feveral Ages ago told us, that there must be Herefies, and withal given us a good VOL. VI. -Reafon
Reafon why there must be, viz. that they which are approved may be made manifeft.
The Method I fhall obferve in treating on thefe Words, fhall be as follows:
I. To give fome Account of what is here meant by Herefies.
II. To fhew how it comes to pass that there always must be Herefies.
III. To fhew for what Reasons God permits Herefies, and what Purposes they ferve.
IV. To make an Application of the whole.
I. I begin with the firft Point, What is meant by Herefies. Now as to this, it is to be obferved, that the Word Herefy is often to be met with in Scripture; and fometimes in that Senfe in which it is commonly used by profane Authors, when it imports no more than fome confiderable Difference in Opinion, or such a Distinction of Men as to their Judgment, as makes them of a different Sect from the reft they converfe with. And thus Chriftianity itself is Ver. 22. ftyled a Herefy in the 28th of the Acts. But then it cannot be denied that the Word is often taken in a bad Senfe, and undoubtedly
it is fo in my Text; and befides the bare Difference of Opinion, or being of a different Sect from others, denotes fome great Fault in the Man that holds that Opinion, or that is of that Sect. Were it not thus, we cannot imagine that St. Paul, when he is reckoning up the Works of the Flesh, fuch as Murder and Adultery, and the like, fhould put in Herefy among them, as he doth in the 5th of Galatians. Well, now Ver. 20. the Question is, What is meant by Herefy, when it is taken in a bad Senfe, when it is made one of the Works of the Flefh? Now, in answer to this, I fay there are two Notions of Herefy in the New Teftament, when that Word is taken in an ill Senfe: For fometimes it is ufed with refpect to the Christian Faith; and fometimes with refpect to Chriftian Peace and Communion. Of both these I shall now give an Account.
1. Herefy is fometimes ufed with respect to the Chriftian Faith, and then the Notion of it is this: It is a Departure from, or a Renouncing of fome neceffary Article of the Chriftian Religion; and that not fo much thro' Ignorance or Miftake, as from a vicious Principle, and for the ferving fome fenfual Defires or Interefts. This, I fay, is the Notion of Herefy with reference to Faith, as far as we can judge from those Texts of Scripture which speak of it in this Senfe. St. Peter thus defcribes Hereticks. 2 Pet. 2. i. He tells us, that as there were falfe Pro