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mere Relation of Order, be the distinctive Serm. II. Idea of God; which yet is so far from implying any Inferiority, that it proves
the very Reverse. For unless only Son and only begotten should fignify the only created (the Consequence of which would be, that our Saviour is the only Creature in the Universe) it must follow, that he is uncreated and of the fame Nature with his Father. Well, supposing him now turned Deift ; the Transition from thence to Atheism or Scepticism would be almost unavoidable, because Eternity, Omnipresence, and Foreknowledge are encumbered with as great Difficulties as the Doctrine of the Trinity. Some Writers, who set out with opposing the Divinity of the Son, have at last, by a natural Gradation of Error, ended in combating the Prescience of God; and made at least very near Approaches to Atheism. For next to believe ing there is no such Thing as an infinitely perfect Being; the greatest Absurdity is to believe, there is an infinitely perfect and wise Being, who does not know, what Tomorrow, nay what the next Hour ‘may bring forth. And indeed I do not know whether the Denial of any one fundamental Truth might not, if pursued to its utmost Consequences, lead or rather mislead one, by a just Train of Deduc
Serm. II. tions, to the Rejection of every other, that
One would undoubtedly wish for some fixed Anchor, some Haven and secure Situation, when one fees and hears of fo
many who have either made Shipwreck of their Faith, or are driving at the Mercy of the Wind : which can be only this : that Moral Certainty is a fufficient Ground of a full Assurance, where there appears no absolute Impossibility to overbalance it, as there does not in the Case of Christianity. The Consequence of which is,
IIIdly, That a thinking Man may enjoy himself, with perfect Ease and Tranquillity, in the Profession and Belief of Chriftianity, which he could not do, if he thought upon the Stretch, in a State of Infidelity.
For he will find every comfortable Doctrine, which a good Man could wish to be true, actually proved to be fo by those Arguments which demand the Asient of every wise and unprejudiced Person. He will perceive, that there are several Points, which are necessary to be determined in order to come at any tolerable Satisfaction and Repose of Mind, but yet are undeterminable by any internal Evidences from the Nature of the Thing : and he will perceive, that where Reason from inward Evi- SERM. II. dences fails us most, there the Scripture has been most express, particular and full, as if it had been written on Purpose to supply the Deficiencies of Reason, as well as authoritatively to enforce the Discoveries of it. He thinks that as God designed Mankind in general should be governed by Religion, that Religion has the faireft Pretensions to Truth, which is suited to Mankind in general. Now a System of moral and religious Truths delivered in easy, short and compendious Precepts, and proved to have the Stamp of divine Authority upon it by a Certainty of Fact, is much better suited to Mankind in general, than what depends upon
ideal and abstract Reasonings. For the Bulk of Mankind can much more easily apprehend the Credibility of Testimony and of public notorious Facts, than they can the Force of metaphysical Arguments drawn out to any Length; or judge whether Consequences, after several Removes from their first Principles, have all the Virtue and Strength of those first Principles conveyed to them. Take away Faith and Authority, and you
the very Basis, upon which Religion, Morality, and common Honesty must stand among the Generality of our Species; who, though they may, by a due Use of common Sense, perceive a gross and palpable
SERM. II. Absurdity, and therefore may guard against
the Impositions of Popery, yet cannot positively ascertain by the Use of their unassisted Faculties, the most necessary Truths. It is therefore an additional Comfort to a serious Christian to consider that he is acting in Concert with that Being, who wills the Happiness of all Mankind, by countenancing, encouraging, and adorning that Religion, which is best adapted to the Exigencies of Mankind in general.
On the other Hand, can an inquisitive, thinking Man be perfectly serene and undisturbed, who has revolted from Christianity, and for saken the Guide of his Youth ? He must be very fanguine to think he can demonstrate Christianity to be certainly false. 'The utmost Lengths, I conceive, a cool Unbeliever, who has studied the Point, can go, is to attempt to prove, that it may not be certainly true : and if this be all, how great must his Inquietude be? And this is perhaps the only afsignable Reason, why Infidels are more industrious, compassing Sea and Land, to make Profelytes, than the Generality of Christians seem to be, who enjoy their Opinions and themselves, without being instant in Season and out of Seafon to propagate them. The Truth is, a sound and rational Believer, like a good Man, is satisfied in and from himself. The Perception of Truth, it mat
ters not whether from internal or external Serm. II. Evidences, gives him a genuine Complacency, and an inward Feeling that all is right within, as to the main Points of Belief. Whereas thoughtful Men who are in any pernicious Error, must look out for that Satisfaction, which they cannot feel at Home in their own Breasts, elsewhere from the Number, Countenance and Approbation of their Followers; looking upon every new Convert, whom they gain, as a confirming Circumstance in Favour of their Opinions. A poor and slender Confirmation! For those very Men who are insensibly drawn into the very Depth of Wrongthinking, would have been shocked if they had opened their whole Scheme at first. They do not attempt to pour in all their Tenets at once, lest they should fall to the Ground and be loft. They infuse them into the Mind as by a narrow Opening or Inlet, by Degrees, Drop after Drop, till they have made them to receive the most noisom Dregs of Error. They in the Beginning set forth their most plausible and colourable Opinions, and when Men have well drank in them, then those which are worse. Thus Men are led from one Falfhood to another, till they fall into Fatalism, the last Sink of poisonous Notions; into which all gross Errors, after they have gone their utmost Lengths and run their Course, at last empty themselves.