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Serm.V. upon these Subjects, as they bestow upon bp Matters of less Moment. When Men have
thought themselves obliged to set about a Thing in good Earnest, they have done that, which they despaired before of ever being able to do. There are Abilities fometimes in the Mind unknown to the Poffeffor of them for Want of something to call them forth. When the Soul strives to raise itself above the Ground, above low Concerns, it's Wings expand and unfold themselves, and in Proportion as they do unfold themfelves, discover, what would otherwise have escaped the View, new Beauties, a greater Lustre, Gloss and Brightness, which were folded and shut
before. Supposing Christianity, which has stood the Scrutiny of so many Centuries, should be totally rejected; Truth would receive the greatest Wound it ever felt: a total Uncertainty would follow as to every Doctrine, but those for which we had Mathematical or Metaphyfical Certainty. What can we believe as certain, would People say, if God has suffered an Imposture to come recommended to us with such strong and commanding Evidences, as have deceived as wise, as inquisitive, and as disinterested Men, as ever lived ? For such have lived and died in the Profession of Christianity. What can we depend upon as sufficiently proved, if that be set aside as false, which has fo
strong Proofs, that no Instance can be given Serm.V. of any Thing, that was ever suspected to be false, which had so many bright Indications of Truth, as Christianity has ? Christianity stands upon as good a Footing as any Parts of our Knowledge, except fuch, as are founded upon abstract Ideas, or immediate Sensations. In short, upon the total Rejection of Christianity that would be brought to pass, which was brought to pass at the Crucifixion of it's Founder, the Sun of Truth would be Eclipsed, and there would be a lasting Darkness over the Face of the Earth; a Darkness, like that too, not produced by the Laws of Nature, by the Laws of our Nature, which requires us to proceed, if we would act at all, on Moral Certainty; and often, on Evidence short of that. The Defenders of Chriftianity have, I think, fully proved, that there is, all Things considered, a Moral Demonkration of the Truth of it. And as in Matters capable of Mathematical DemonAration, we ought to abide by a Proposition fo demonstrated, notwithstanding it may
be attended with inextricable Difficulties: so in . Matters capable only of Moral Proofs, we are obliged to acquiesce in a Moral DemonAration; notwithstanding there may be several Intricacies, which we cannot clear up. Those, who have departed either from Christianity, or the fundamental Doctrines
SERM. Vk thereof, upon the Account of numerous
Difficulties, have run themselves always into gross and palpable Absurdities; of which numerous Instances might be given. They have acted like that injudicious Fencer in Tully; who, while He was guarding against a Pass from which He might have received some flight Harm, laid Himself open to one, which affected His Vitals. Those, who will not believe any Thing, unless they can account for every Thing relating to it, should, one would think, in Pursuance of their Principles, fall into the wild Scheme of Egomism, The Egomists having resolved to admit nothing that was Mysterious or Incomprehensible; and find, ing that every Thing was so, more or less, came at last to this Conclusion; that no Man ought to believe any Thing but His own Existence, For, though how he came into Being, and was continued in it, was a Mystery and Intricacy which He could not clearly account for, yet these very mysterious Difficulties and Intricacies proved His Existence; it being a self-evident Propofition, that, unless he had existed, He could have raised, or had, no mysterious Difficul, ties or Perplexities in His Mind at all.
Since then the Evidence for Christianity is so strong; and the Importance of It's Doctrines sogreat: and since Disbelief would be attended with a Train of bad Conse
quences; it follows, that God might require Serm. V. our Belief on Pain of His Displeasure. And it is a Matter of Kindness in any One, to warn us of the dangerous Nature of Unbelief (some uncommon Cases known only to God excepted;) as it would be Uncharitableness to lull us into a fatal Security; instead of awakening our Attention to Truths of fo high Concernment. I proceed,
IIIdly, To offer one or two short occasional Reflections, which arise from the Subject Matter of my Discourse.
If, Let us, besides the Reasonableness and Necessity, reflect on the Desirableness of the Christian Faith. That the best Man, who had an humble Sense of Himself, a deep Sense of His Guilt, and an awful Sense of God's Holiness and Purity, would not be willing to trust to the hazardous Event of Uncovenanted Mercy: He would wish, affectionately wish, That Religion to be true, which lays before Him a full Pardon for His Sins upon Repentance, by an express Covenant : And fuch is the Goodness of God, that we may presume, nothing that is false can deserve the affectionate Wishes of the best of Men. Infidels
be divided into two Classes ; the Men of Pleasure, and the Men of Thought. As to the former, None are greater Selfdeniers than those, who deny themselves no
Serm. V. sensual Pleasures however criminal. By in way dulging a Pruriency of the coarser Desires,
and thereby inducing a Callousness of Heart, they must beget in themselves a Disrelish for every manly, rational, and valuable Enjoyment; contract an habitual Littleness of Soul; and an Insensibility to each humane, tender, and refined Sentiment. Surely, a good Christian, in Belief and Practice, must have more substantial Gratifications ; and confequently be, in strict Propriety of Speech, more a Man of Pleasure, of real Pleasure (which will stand the Test of cool Reflection) than the Person, whom the World miscals a Man of Pleasure. As to the Men of Thought; however they may appear in Company, yet when one traces them to those Places, where they throw off all Dife guise, one finds that, generally speaking, their Tempers are as dark and embroiled, as their System, the gloomy System of unrelenting Necessity. The Truth is, though they will not see Evidence enough to make them good Christians, they cannot almost help seeing as much as will make them uneasy. Where there is such a strong Day-light of Evidence, however they may endeavour to shut up all the Avenues of Light, yet some unwelcome Beams will force themselves in to disturb their Repose. Hence that Virulence against Christianity. For when Men are uneasy, they must discharge their Spleen upon that, which makes them fo.