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SERM. II. A benevolent Man that is at Ease in him,
self would not designedly let a Line appear in Print, or a Word fall in Conversation, that should stagger the Good in their Way to Heaven, or confirm the Bad in a Course of Wickedness: he would not for all the World write or say any Thing, that should tend to weaken the Motives to Honesty and Virtue, by striking at the Authority of that Book, from which alone a full Assurance of unallayed, exceeding, and endless Happiness (the strongest Support of Virtue and Honesty) can be derived, Can a Man that is a Friend to Natural Religion, endeavour to subvert a Revelation, which contains all the Motives to Goodness which Natural Religion has, and adds fome distinguishing ones of great Weight peculiar to itself? Or can he really think that Natural Religion would succeed in its Room? No, There would be as many Schemes of Religion, as there are opinionated Men, who wanted to form a Party. And that Proposition would have very uncommon bad Fortune, which could meet with no Friends to countenance and stand
for it. Men are
are very well agreed that several Duties are enjoined by Christianity, who would have endless Disputes, whether they were Parts of Natural Religion or pot. Reason, abstractedly from Revela
tion, does not prove many certain Points; Serm. II.
There will be, Christianity once set aside, à mighty Void left in its which Reason of itself cannot fill up. Paganism, Enthusiasm, and Superstition on the one Hand; a formless undetermined Thing that calls itfelf personal Religion, Manichæism, Atheism, and Fatalism on the other ; would be striving to erect themselves upon.it's Ruins, till at last the Populace ran into Superstition in Variety of Forms, and the Gentry into no Religioni at all. What has been said of the Diffolution of a well-constituted Government, is as applicable to the Dissolution of Christianity : it would resemble the Putrefaction of a dead Animal, when, instead of one noble Creature, as it was while Life held it together, there would be a thousand little nauseous Reptiles preying upon it, cach crawling in a Path of its own.
An humane Person cannot reflect without deep Concern on the Impressions which are made upon an honest undesigning but weak Man, when he lights upon the Books, or falls into the Company of artful Infidels : Where there is á good Disposition at the Bottom, they Thall serve his Faith, just as the Robbers
Serm. II. did the Traveller in the Parable of the
Samaritan; they shall not kill and destroy it entirely, which would be almost a Kindness in Comparison, but they Jhall leave it wounded and half-dead. He shall have afterwards several uneasy Sensations, and ungrateful Feelings within, before he can recover an established Health of Soul. He shall go on drooping and diffident without that chearful Assurance which he had before, in his Journey through this World to a better.
But, whatever others do, let us unite our vigorous and animated Endeavours in cfpousing the Cause and promoting the Interests of Christianity. Let us not be indolent, or, like the Disciples of old, asleep while they are going to crucify our Lord and Master, or, which is one Kind of crucifying him, to root out his Religion from off the Face of the Earth. But let us hold fast the Profesion of our Faith without wavering, and confirm the Faith, that is wavering, of others, by our Discourse, by our Pens, and by (what is sometimes the most effectual Confirmation of all) our Lives suitable to our Holy Faith: then faithful will be be, who has promised to his faithful Servants eternal Happiness : Which God of his infinite Mercy grant, &c.
The usual Objections against Reve
lation, founded in Ignorance.
In two Sermons preached before the Unis
versity of Oxford.
I cor. i. 25.
T was no unusual Thing among the See Mo
Ancients, as might be thewn by Instances brought from approved Authors, to call Things, not as they were in themselves, but as they appeared, or were esteemed to be by others. Agreeably to this Cuftom St. Paul, in the 28th Verse of this Chapter, calls Things accounted as nothing, Things that are not. And here he styles that Foolishness and Weakness, which was deemed to be so by the Greeks, though it was far otherwise in Reality.
The Deists have never offered any rational Scheme, or tolerable Hypothesis, to
Serm. account for all the strong Marks of Credi
bility and Appearances of Truth and Divinity in Christianity, supposing nothing more than human concerned in the Publication and Propagation of it; any more than the Atheists have advanced any plaufible Scheme to solve all the Appearances of Goodness, Wisdom, and Design in the Creation, without fupposing an infinitely wife and good God the Author and Preferver of it. What the Deists object to Christianity, is just what the Atheists do in Regard to the Creation; instead of producing any consistent Theory to take off these Appearances of its Divinity, they endeavour to balance them by counter Appearances; Appearances of something wrong, irregular, or amiss in the Contexture of it. They tell us, it contains several Things which could not have been in it, if it had come from God. It will not be improper therefore,
JA, To fhew, that it is owing to Ignorance, that several Things in Revelation feem liable to the Charge of Foolishness.
IIdly, To advance a Step farther, and prove, that God has stamped the brightest Characters of Divinity on those Parts of Revelation, which are thought most exceptionable.