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and pleasurably enjoy the Delights and State of Plenty:
If this be the Case, I ask how a good Christian is to be assured that this is a safe and just Interpretation? How shall he be fatisfied that there is no Danger in follow
It is plainly an Interpretation of our own making, it is not the open expressed Sense of the Words, it is an Addition of something to them, for which we have no Authority from the Passage it self. So that it may well be ask'd, how we can be sure that such an Interpretation may be fafely complied with.
The Text faith, sell all that thou hast; this Interpretation faith, ye need not sell yet, nay, that you need not sell at all, but that you may go on in the pleasurable Enjoyment of your several Estates, till such time as you cannot keep them without denying the Faith.
So that the Interpretation seems to have nothing to do with the Text, and only teaches a Doctrine, that might as well be asserted without this Text, as with it.
I Ask therefore for what Reason we allow this Passage to teach us no more than this ? Is there any other Part of Scripture that requires us to make this Interpretation? Does it better suit with the Spirit
and Temper of the Christian Religion ? Is it more agreeable to its heavenly Designs, its Contempt of the World, than to take them in their apparent Sense ?
If this were true, then the first Followers of Christ, who observed this Doctrine in its literal Sense, and renounced all, acted less suitably to the Spirit of Christianity, than those who now enjoy their Estates.
This Absurdity is enough to expose any pretended Necessity of this Interpretation, which Absurdity must be granted, if we say that this new Interpretation is niore suitable to the Spirit of Christianity, than to take the Words as still obliging in their first Sense. But to cut off all Pretence of
Necessity from any other Part of Scripture, I have made it plainly appear, that the same Do&trine is certainly taught by many other express Passages of Scripture.
This Interpretation therefore is as contrary to many other Parts of Scripture, as to this Text; it is contrary to the Spirit of Christianity, and is only brought in to foften the Rigours of Religion, that People may with quiet Consciences enjoy the Pleafures of Plenty, and those who want it, spend their Time in the Ways and Means of acquiring it.
If therefore there be not an entire Change in the Way to Heaven, if the once streight Gate be not now a wide and
open Passage to all full, fat, and stately Christians; if there is still any Meaning in these Words, Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God, the sober Christian may as well doubt of this Allowance of enjoying the Pleasures and Plenty of his Estate, till Persecution for the Faith drives him out of it, as if he was told, that he need not resist the Devil, till such time as he tempted him to deny the Faith, or give up sonie Truth of his Religion.
WHEN our Saviour gave this Command to the young Man, and afterwards observ’d, upon his Refusal, that it was eafier for a Camel to go through the Eye of a Needle, than for a rich Man to enter into the Kingdom of God, the Apostles took that Command to signify the common Conditions of entering into Christianity, and immediately declar'd that they had left all and followed him.
AND our Saviour answered them in such a Manner, as shewed, that the Doctrine then delivered, related to all Mankind in the fame Sense, and had nothing particular in it, that related to one Man, or one Age of the Church, more than another.
VERILY I say unto you, there is no Man that hath left House or Brethren, or Sisters, or Father, or Mother, or Wife, or Children, or Lands, for my Sake, or the Gospels, but he mall have an hundred fold now in this present time, and in the World to come cternal Lise (a).
LET it now be consider'd, that supposing it was barely lawful, to enjoy our Efates, and as the World says, live up to them, is this a State of any Merit ? Is there any Reward annexed to it? If it is not our Sin, it is at best a losing our Time, and as unrewardable as Sleeping.
BUT on the other Side we are infallibly assured, that if we come up to the Doctrine of the Text, if we part with our worldly Enjoyments and Gratifications for the Sake of Christ, that in this Life we thall receive an hundred fold, and in the World to come eternal Life.
Now if such Persons as these, are to be thus blessed in this Life, and also so rewarded in the next, it is certain that they who are not such Persons, will not be so doubly blessed both in this Life and that which is to come.
(a) Mark x. 29.
But now what an Interpretation must that be, which leads Men from being an hundred times as happy as they might be in this Life, and from such an Height of Reward in the next?
Is not this enough to shew us, that the Wisdom of this Interpretation, is not a Wisdom from above, that it savoureth not the Things that be of God?
FOR who can be so wise unto eternal Life, who can make so much of his Plenty, as by thus parting with it?
Who that was governed by a Wisdom from above, would seek for an Evasion, where the open Sense, is not only safe, but entituled to so vast a Recompence both now and hereafter ?
IT is to me no small Argument, that our Saviour meant no such Allowance, as this Interpretation has found out, because it is so contrary to the Perfection of the Soul, and is so disadvantagious to those that follow it.
Our blessed Saviour and his Apostles both in Doctrine and Practice are on the Side of renouncing the Enjoyments of Riches, and who is he that dare preach up a worldly Peace and Indulgence, without either Text or Precedent from Scripture, and such a Peace as leads Men from such