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To the READER.
T HE Christian Religion is best
known and distinguished by
the God proposed in it, as the object of our faith and obedience : and as there is no true religion, but the religion of Christians, fo is there no true God, but the God of Chriftians.
Before the coming of Christ, and the fulfilling of the Law, God was known by the name of Jehovah, the God of. Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob. The Israelites, who were the feed of Abraham, and drew their whole religion from a divine revelation, had the knowlege of the true God; and the people of every other nation, who were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of pro
mise, were also, without God in the world".
Though they talked much of God, and wrote much of him, and offered him many facrifices, yet they knew him not: the Being they served, was not God, but another in the place of him, falsely called by his name. And though some modern Christians have forgot there was any difference, yet the very beathens themselves, upon fome occasions, were ready enough to allow it. Naaman the Syrian, when he was cured of his leprosy by the Prophet Elima, made a publick confession of it Bebold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel". The fame is affirmed by the inspired Pfalmist — All the Gods of the heathen are idols; and God himself declares them all to have been vanities '.
The case is now with the Christians under the Gospel, as it anciently was with the Jews under the Law: they believe in the only true God; while the
a Eph. 11. 12. b 2 Kings V.15. c Psal. XCVI.5. d Jer. XIV.22.
unchristian part of mankind, who are by far the majority, either know him not, or wilfully deny him; as Pharaob did the God of the Hebrews when he was told of him. And we are now got to such a pitch of indevotion and ignorance, that among those who profess and call themselves Christians, there are too many who are almost come to be Heathens without knowing it. For there is a fashionable notion, propagated by most of our moral writers, and readily subscribed to by those who say their prayers but seldom, and can never find time to read their Bible, that all who worship any God, worship the fame God; as if we worshiped the three Letters of the word God, instead of the Being meant and understood by it. The universal Prayer of Mr. A- P-- was composed upon this plan; wherein the supreme Being is addressed as a common Father of all, under the names, Jehovah, Jove, and Lord. And this humour of confounding things, which ought to be distinguished at the peril of
our Souls, and of comprehending Believers and Idolaters under one and the same religion, is called a catholic Spirit, that shews the very exaltation of Chriftian Charity. But God, it is to be feared, will require an account of it under another name; and though the Poet could see no difference, but has mistaken
Fove or Jupiter for the same Father of all with the Lord Jehovah; yet the Apostle has instructed us better; who, when the Priest of Jupiter came to offer sacrifice, exhorted him very passionately to turn from those vanities unto the living God“; well knowing that he whom the Priest adored under the name of Jupiter, was not the living God, but a creature, a nothing, a vanity. Yet the catholic Spirit of a moralist can discern no difference; and while it pretends fome zeal for a sort of universal religion, common to believers and infidels, betrays a fad indifference for the Christian religion in particular. This error is fo monItrous in a land enlightened by the Gofa Aits XIV.15,