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all Things, and in his Book are all the Serm. Members of it written. After all, were we no more interested in the Contents of the Bible, than we are in those of a favourite Clasic, we should esteem it as, what it is, the noblest Composition that ever was penned. There would be acknowledged to be in it, as in the Works of Nature, something grand, august, and magnificent; and (however irregular some Things may feem) far preferable to the correcter Elegances of Art, and the confined Exactness of a regular Work. The only Consideration, that makes us fond of every little Cavil, and willing, at any Rate, to depreciate it, is, what ought in Reason to recommend it most of all, that it's Contents are Obligatory upon us. Setting this Confideration aside, we should make necessary Allowances for the Loss of proper Keys, at this Distance, to unlock Difficulties; and condemn that Man, as
an ill-natured Critic, who, when there is a Cup in the Hands of the Authors, and they pour out of the same those cordial Drops, which strengthen every good Man's Heart, is eager to find and suck out any Dregs, or Sediments mixed with them; any exceptionable Part, any Inaccuracy, or Impropriety. It would be owned, that every Perfon, that read them, was the better for them. They would be universally applauded as ancient Authors, if F 2
SERM. they were but Authors: The Consideration
that they are likewise Prophets, Apostles, and Law-givers to us, flattens our Relish for them. There are a thousand shining Pailages, which, if they had originally grown in the Gardens of Plato, or Cicero, would have been thought the most generous Plants, that any Soil is capable of producing. Unhappily for them, our heavenly Father hath planted them, and commanded us to eat of them, and live for
How admirable, in those aforementioned Writers, would have feemed the indirect Manner of suggesting Knowledge under the Veil of Parables and Allegories; that useful, but otherwise offensive, Truth might enter, as it were, by a By-path into the Understanding, when all the direct Avenues were shut up against it as an Enemy! How would thofe strong Paintings have been extolled, the least Praise of which is their Beauty! Their chief Commendation is, that their Beauty is made subservient to nobler Purposes; and that while they entertain the Fancy with agreeable Imagery, they convey to us the moft beneficial Sentiinents, and impress them more deeply upon the Mind : Like Bloiloms, which, though they seem to be made only to please the Eye, are necefary for the Production of Fruit, and the Preservation of the Seed; Nature concealing, as it were, it's grand End,
and appearing intent to beautify the Crca- SERM. tion, at the same Time it is benefiting it.
It would be easy to multiply Instances to make it appear, that those Objections, which are looked upon as the Result of a fuperior Sagacity and Difcernment, arc, in Reality, the Effect of a profound Ignorance of sacred, and sometimes of frofane, Antiquity. One scarce indeed knows, what some People deem Objections. Trifics, light as Air, often tried in the Balance, and found wanting, sink as deeply in unfurnished Minds, and make as much Impression there, as Difficulties of a weightier Nature ; like Feathers descending in a Void with a Force and Velocity equal to that of much more substantial and massy Bodies. From this Set of Men you continually hear the stale Objection of David's being a Man after God's own Heart : And so he might be, comparatively with Saul, as to his public Character, in answering all the Purposes (the meaning of the Phrase, after God's own Heart) which the Deity had in vesting him with Kingly Power, by beating down Idolatry, and promoting true Religion, which was the sole End of the Jewish Polity. Or he might be so, even as to his private Character, though not in Respect of the Crime he committed; yet in Respect of the Severity of his Repentance, which bore Proportion to the Enormity of his COLL.
SERM. Crime, and reinstated him in God's Fa
vour ; not to mention his prevailing good Qualities, and the main Tenour of his Life. I would not dissemble, however, that Révelation, as all other Things, has it's dark, as well as bright Side ; is a Mixture of Light and Darkness; and that, as God has been pleased to give bright and illustrious Indications of it's Divinity to those that seek after Truth with all their Soul and with all their Strength, he has turned the Pillar of the Cloud to the disingenuous and perverse. Notwithstanding, though the Matter of our Faith be dark or mysterious, yet the formal Reason of it is not so. Whereas Facts imperfectly related in a summary View, without descending to Particulars, and therefore liable to Objections ; mysterious Doctrines; the unfathomable Dispensations of Providence; Obscurities occasioned by Forms of speaking widely different from ours; Accounts of the invisible World, and of the Offices of evil Angels ; these, and many other Things of which we know little or nothing, and therefore cannot affirm or deny any Thing with Certainty, are the formal Reasons of Infidelity. To these Men of this Stamp retreat, as to Haunts impervious to the Beams of the Sun, when we would set before them the Brightness of that Light, which arose with Healing in it's Wings,
The Difference between a Christian and SERM. a Deist does not consist in this, that the one afsents to nothing but what is evident; the latter affents to Things inevident in themselves. But here the Distinction lies; the Deift assents to Things inevident in themselves, without any Ground or Reason at all; the Christian assents to Things, inevident in themselves upon the Authority of God. Thus the Deist believes there is only One Solitary Person in the Divine Nature; the Christian, that there are Three: both Propositions inevident in themselves : And he, who affirms the former, no more perceives any necessary Agreement of Ideas, than he who maintains the latter. Nor is there
any plausible Plea, that can be offered for a Singleness of Person, but that exploded
a foreign Philosopher, viz. whatever is, there is a suficient Reason appearing to us, why it is, rather than why it is not. And an ingenious Stirrer up of Doubts might raise as many Cavils against the solitary
Unity of Person in an Effence every-wbere present, as an Antitrinitarian can do against a Trinity of Subsistences. The Truth is, both these Doctrines are equally. incomprehenfóle : And he who rejects a Trinity, refigns his Understanding to a Proposition, of which he has neither intrinsic nor extrinsic Proofs ; he who admits it, believes it upon the only Proofs,