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be exploded as fallacious and uncertain. Serm. I. No proper Measures can be taken, upon this Supposition, to prevent a Rebellion, to crush it in it's Infancy, or to make a Head againk it, when become formidable. We must not believe any Thing that we hear, however concerning it may be to ourselves, and however well attested by Persons fuperior to any sinister Designs; and thus Wifdom would be quite shut out at one great Entrance. We cannot depreciate Moral Certainty without striking at the Belief of an over-ruling Providence. For there can be no Providence, unless there be an orderly Course of Things and some regular Plan which takes place. One would not chuse to live in a World where there was no Order, no Principle of mutual Trust and social Union, no Dependence of one Person upon another. One would not chuse to fit out a Play, where the Drama was ill conducted; where every Thing was disjointed, without any Unity of Design, or Connection of one Thing with another. The Truth is, Men cannot, were they never so much inclined to it in all Cases, act up to that Principle, by Virtue of which some reject Christianity. They cannot, without always putting a Force upon Na

Now Nature has a Kind of Elasticity and Spring, by which it recovers itself, when it is violently pressed and a Force put




Serm. I. upon it. If Matter of fact, Sense and Ex

perience were not too hard for all the ingenious and subtle Reasonings, which Men of Leisure and Parts may invent against almost any Thing whatever, we should be in per petual Danger of running into universal. Scepticism.

By acting then upon such Grounds and Principles, as those whereon Christianity is founded, we act agreeably to the Laws of Nature; our social Nature ; and consequently express our Duty to the Author of our Nature and it's Laws: in other Words, we act religiously, virtuously, and rationally. if Mankind be rational Beings, the Welfare of Mankind must be the Welfare of a rational Nature ; and therefore the Laws which advance it must be founded in Reason; nor can their Authority be resisted by any Thing but what is at the same Time opposite to Reason, and therefore to Truth : Consequently, the Denial of Moral Evidence as well as of Immorality, must be contrary to Truth and Reason; because the Denial in both Cases would be subversive of human Happiness and ruinous in its Consequences.

Nay if some Persons of the first Distinction in the Philosophical World reason justly; the Evidence of the Truth of our Senses is placed upon no better Foundation, than that of the Truth of Christianity. For they


argue thus; there being no strict Demon- Serm. I. Itration that Bodies exist, or that there is a material World, the only Argument that seems to have the Force of one, is this; it is evident God cannot deceive us by Appearances instead of Realities; it is evident he does delude us 'every Moment, if there be no Bodies; it is evident therefore there must be Bodies. Whatever Weight this Kind of arguing may have, it is fully as conclusive in Favour of Moral Evidence, and consequently, of what is founded upon Moral Evidence, the Truth of Christianity. It admits of no Dispute, that we are obliged to be determined by the Laws of our Nature, which are in the last Resort the Laws of God; and that the Deity has laid us under a Necessity of closing with moral Proofs. Now the Deity can no more lay us under a moral Necessity of submitting to an unavoidable Delusion in Affairs of a moral Nature, than he can subject us to a perpetual Deception, as to the Reports of the Senses. Therefore Moral Evidence, when compleat in its Kind, can no more delude us, than the Perception of the Senses can be altogether delusory. Nay Evidence of this Nature, though not fo ftriking, seems fo: etimes equivalent to that of Sense, and is productive of as undoubted an Alsurance. But this brings me to fhew

Serm. I.

Ildly, That there is such a Sufficiency of Evidence for Christianity, that we cannot, consistently with Reason, refuse to be determined by it.

There are as strong Proofs, that. Jesus and his Apostles wrought Miracles, as that such Men ever existed. And the only Reason, why few or none dispute their Existence, whereas several deny the Reality of their Miracles, is; that their Existence considered apart from Circumstances relative to us, is an uninteresting Point; and, nothing depending upon it, Reason is le in it's full Freedom to determine as it fees Evidence. But the Miracles being wrought to establish a Religion, by which we are to be saved or condemned; the Passions immediately take the Alarm, and are up in Arms as against an Enemy that is come to disturb their Repose, and reduce their exorbitant Power. For the Resistance to Truth bears generally an exact Proportion to it's Weight or Moment.

It is idle for the Deifts to run out into long Declamations against Historical Evidence ; that it is in many Cases precarious and uncertain ; that Historians give different, and sometimes contradictory Reports of the very fame Action. This is only to empty their Quiver in the Air without aiming at a certain Mark. It is to discharge their Artillery against Historical Evidence

at large, without levelling it against the Serm. I. particular Point in Debate : the Question not being, whether Historical Evidence may not be sometimes uncertain and inconclufive? but whether any Evidence can be so, that is so circumstanced as that for Christianity is ? Where, if there had been any Imposture, it was utterly impossible but that the Imposture must have been discovered and the World undeceived. Thousands could not have been converted to Chris ftianity, and have died for it, unless it had carried the strongest Conviction with it. For Men will not embrace a new Institution, subversive of every other, in Opposition to their former Prejudices and worldly Interests, without very forcible Proofs. Miraculous Facts said to be done in the Eye of the World for a Course of Years, before a great Number of Witnesses, before Enemies as well as Friends (not to confirm an established Religion, but to build a new one upon the Ruins of the former) could not have been believed to be true, if they were not so, by those, who lived at that Juncture ; and in those public Places where they pretended to work them ; such as Jerusalem, Ephefiis, Antioch, Corinth, &c. For a Set of Men to endeavour to deceive the World in such an astonishing manner, would have been looked upon as an audacious and unparallelled Attempt to impose upon the Senses of Man

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