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pressly declared, that, "if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the pit," Matth. xv. 14. Yea, the same eternal truth, to shew us to what excess of wickedness man is capable of going, under the pretence of following his conscience, says to his apostles, "the hour cometh, that whosoever killeth you, will think that he doth God a service," John xvi. 2. But observe what he adds, "and these things will they do, because they have not known the father nor me," verse 3. Which shews, that, if one has not the true knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, which can only be got by his true faith, there is nothing so enormous but what he is capable of, and yet think he is acting according to reason and conscience. Indeed, had God given us no other guide but the light of reason, such as it is, to direct us, we might have, in some degree, been excused in following that light; but, as he has given us an external guide in his holy Church, to rectify our blinded reason by the light of faith, our reason alone, unassisted by this guide, can never be sufficient for salvation.

But nothing will set this matter in a clearer light than to consider some particular examples. Conscience tells a Heathen that it is not only lawful, but a duty to worship idols, and to offer up sacrifices to stocks and stones, the work of men's hands. Will his acting in this manner, according to his conscience, save him? or will these acts of idolatry be innocent or agreeable in the sight of God; because they are performed according to conscience? See above, § 3, number 9, the answer which the word of God gives to this question; to which add that of the wise man, "The idol that is made by hands is cursed, as well as he that made it.... for that which is made, together with him that made it, sball suffer torments," Wisd. xiv. 8. 10.; also,

"He that sacrificeth to gods shall be put to death, save only to the Lord," Exod. xxii. 20. In like manner, a Jew's conscience tells him that he may law fully and meritoriously blaspheme Jesus Christ, and approve the conduct of his forefathers for putting him to death upon a tree. Will such blasphemy save him, because it is according to the dictates of his conscience? The Holy Ghost, by the mouth of St. Paul, says, "If any man love not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema,' that is "accursed," 1 Cor. xvi. 22. A Turk is taught by his conscience that it would be a crime to believe in Jesus Christ, and not to believe in Mahomet; will this impious conscience save him? The Scripture assures us, that "there is no other name given to men under heaven, by which we can be saved," but the name of Jesus only; and “he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life; but the wrath of God remaineth on him." All the various sects which have been separated from the true Church, in every age, have uniformly and constantly calumniated and slandered her, and spoken evil of the way of truth professed by her, and were persuaded in their consciences, that it was lawful and meritorious to do so, so as even to oblige their teachers, from time to time, to preach all the evil they could say against her to their people from their pulpits. Will calumnies and slanders against the spouse of Jesus Christ save them, because their conscience approves them: The word of God declares. “That the nation and the kingdom that will not serve her, shall perish; and, "there shall be lying teachers, who shall bring in damnable heresies, bringing upon themselves swift destruction

through whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of," 2 Pet. ii. In all these, and such like cases, their conscience is their greatest crime, and shews to what a pitch of impiety our conscience

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and reason can lead us, when under the influence of pride, passion, prejudice, and self-love; and therefore, that these alone can never be guides to salvation, unless enlightened and directed by the sacred beams of revealed truths.

Q. 7. But suppose a person to be invincibly ignorant of the faith of Jesus Christ and his Church, will not this invincible ignorance save him?

A. This is also a very specious proposition, and I am afraid for want of being properly sifted and considered, serves as an occasion of some dangerous mistakes in this matter; we shall, therefore, endeavour to examine it thoroughly. And here we must observe, that two different questions are commonly blended together in one, when people speak of invincible ignorance; the first is, will a person who is invincibly ignorant of the true faith or Church of Christ be condemned precisely on account of that ignorance? that is, will that ignorance be imputed to him as a crime? or will this is invincible ignorance excuse him from the guilt of not believing? To this I reply, that, as no man can be guilty of a sin for not doing what it is absolutely out of his power to do, therefore, a person who is invincibly ignorant of the true faith and Church of Christ, will not be condemned precisely on account of that ignorance; such ignorance will not be imputed to him as a crime; but will undoubtedly excuse him from the guilt of not believing. In this all divines agree without the least doubt or hesitation; so that a Heathen, for example, that never heard of Jesus Christ, will not be condemned as criminal, precisely for want of faith in him; a heretic that never had any knowledge of the true Church of Christ will not be condemned as guilty for not being joined in communion with that Church. And so far the first question admits of no dispute. The second question is this, Can a person

invincibly ignorant of the true faith or Church of Jesus, and living and dying in that state, be saved? This is a very different question from the former, and of the highest importance, though it is too commonly confounded with the former, and from this arises the mistake that many are apt to fall into in this matter. Now, to answer this question clearly and distinctly, we must consider two different cases: first with regard to those Turks, Jews, and Heathens, who, having never heard of Jesus Christ nor of his religion, are invincibly ignorant of it, many of whom there are in the world; and, secondly, with regard to all those different sects of Christians who are separated from the true Church of Christ by heresy.

Q.8. What then is to be said of all those Turks, Jews, and Heathens, who having never heard of Jesus Christ or of his religion, are, therefore, invincibly ignorant of both? can they be saved, if they live and die in that state?

A. The plain answer to this is, That they cannot be saved? that not one of these "can enter into the kingdom of God." It is true, as we have seen above, they will not be condemned as criminal, precisely because they have not the faith of Christ, of which they are invincibly ignorant. But the faith of Christ, though an essential condition of salvation, is but one condition; others are also required. And though invincible ignorance will certainly save a man from sin, in wanting that of which he is invincibly ignorant; yet it is plainly impossible and childish to suppose, that this invincible ignorance in one point will make up for the want of all other conditions required. Now all those we hear speak of are in the state of original sin," aliens from God, and children of wrath," as the Scripture calls all such, and unbaptized; and it is a constant

article of the Christian faith, that, except original sin be washed away by the grace of baptism, there is no salvation; for Christ himself expressly declares, "Amen, amen, I say to thee, except a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God," John, iii. 5. And, indeed, if even the children of Christian parents, who die without baptism, cannot go to heaven, how much less can those go there, who, besides being never baptised, are supposed, in the present case, to live and die in ignorance of the true God, or of Jesus Christ and his faith, and, on that account, must also be supposed to have committed many actual sins themselves. Nay, to suppose that Heathens, Turks, or Jews, who live and die in that state, can be saved, is to suppose that worshippers of idols, and of Mahomet, and blasphemers of Jesus Christ, can be saved in the guilt of original sin, as well as of all those actual crimes by their ignorance; which is putting them upon a better footing, by far, than even Christians themselves and their children. The fate of all such the Scripture decides as follows, "The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, with the angel of his power, in a flame of fire, yielding vengeance to them who know not God, and who obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall suffer eternal punishment in destruction, from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his power," 2 Thess. i. 7. This is precise, indeed, and a clear and decisive answer to the present question.

Q. 9. What judgment does the Scripture make of all those various sects of Christians who are separated from the Church by heresy? can they be saved if they be in invincible ignorance, and live and die in their state of separation from the true Church of Christ?

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