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III.

SERM. that the Nature of the Thing admits of, or

our Nature requires; Extrinsic ones. The Evidence for Christianity preponderates the Objections, for this plain Reason : because most, if not all, the principal Objections turn upon Points, of which we are incompetent Judges. But we are able to have a perfect Knowledge, and form an adequate Judgment, of the Evidence on which Chriftianity stands. Though therefore we ought to abide by our Judgment where it is sufficiently informed; we ought to lay no great Weight upon it, where it is insufficient and unequal to the Things to be judged of, We have no Right to judge where we have not a competent Ability to judge. For the Right of Judgment cannot extend beyond our Ability of judging,

Supposing it had pleased the Deity, before Glasses were invented, or Experiments made, to have given us a System of Natural Philosophy, together with that of Religion, containing all the modern Difcoveries ; what an ample Field of Ridicule would have been opened to little Wits ? That Three Divine Persons, however distint, hould be fo united, as no other Persons are, or can be; and therefore should be, not so many Beings as Persons, but one Being only, would have afforded but little Matter of Raillery: But that Millions of Animalcules, which have Parts correspondenţ to Creatures of

much

III.

much larger Dimensions, should subsist Serm. together in one little Drop of Water, would have appeared as ridiculous an Absurdity, as that of ten thousand Spirits being at once upon a minute, and barely visible Point of Matter. That Balaam’s Ass should speak, would have supplied them, comparatively, with no great Fund of Pleasantry ; since a Cause is assigned more than equal to the Effect, and there was an End worthy of that Cause; viz. to let the Prophet know, in Conformity to the Custom of that Age (which was,

not only to notify one's Meaning in meer Words, but to exemplify it by some striking Instance or Matter of Fact) that his Intention to speak otherwise than God directed, would be of no Avail. For He, who could actuate the Tongue of the dumb Animal, and make it utter what articulate Sounds he pleased, could also overrule the Madness of the Prophet, and deprive him of any Power of going beyond the Word of the Lord, or saying more or less than he should order him. But that the Body of Light should travel one hundred and fourscore thousands of Miles in the Second of a Minute, as modern Philosophers assert, would have appeared to them an absolute Contradiction; as it supposed, they would say, the same Body to be in several Places of a prodigious Distance almost at the fame Instanta How would they have been astonished to hear,

what

SERM.
III.

what yet bas been demonstrated * that ten
thousand two hundred and fifty fix Moun-
tains (every one of which is equal to the
highest Mountain in the Earth) do not con-
tain so many Grains of Sand, as one Grain of
such Sand docs Particles of the Blood or
Juices of certain Animalcules: or, that the
smallest Portion of Matter' that can be
assigned might diffuse itself over the amplest
Extent of Space, and fill it so, that there
should be no Vacancy left but what was less
than any given Quantity? The Stoicksand Epi-
cureans would not have diverted themselves
with the Apostle, for bringing strange Things
to their Ears, when he told them of the
Resurrection. All their Merriment would have
been exhausted upon much stranger, if he
had laid open to them the Secrets of Nature,
the seemingly Magical Operation of the
Loadstone ;—that all the essential Parts of an
Animal, however large, are at first folded up
in a little Speck scarce discernible, and that
it's Growth is nothing but the Unfolding
and Expansion of those Parts which were
contracted before;—The art of restoring a
Body to it's former State, when it has been
altered by Calcination or Difiolution;—that
the Sun acts through a vast intermediate
Void, where it is not;--that the Rays of it's
Light are reflected from a Surface which
they never touched, &c. One would go upon
* See Keillii Introductio ad Physicain, Par. 52. 56.

III.

very sure Grounds, before one pronounces Serm. peremptorily, such Things are absurd, contradictory, and cannot possibly be in a Divine Revelation: Experience teaching us, that several Things in the World actually do exist in such a Manner, as we, antecedently to Experience, should have judged impoffible in the Nature of the Thing. What is there, for Instance, incredible in our Saviour's Miraculous Birth? Supposing us ignorant of the natural Method of Generation, we should think it as surprizing and incredible to the full, that a Child should be produced jointly by a Male and a Female, as that it hould be produced by a Female only: Nor can this be more inconceivable than the Formation of the First Man without

any Parents at all.

Thus far I have gone, intending, at another Opportunity, to prosecute this Subject much farther; as being sensible, the great Secret of spreading Infidelity consists in unsettling Men's Minds, by raising Doubts and Cavils about the Style and inward Contents of Revelation. These are the Intricacies with which they beset us ; the Thorns and Briars, of which unless the Ground be effectually cleared, whatever good Seed or Principles may be fown in it, they will spring up with them, choak, or render them unfruitful.

SERMON IV.

The usual Objections against Reve

lation, founded in Ignorance.

In two Sermons preached before the Uni

versity of Oxford.

I COR. i, 25.
The Foolishness of God is wiser than Men;

and the Weakness of God is stronger
than Min.

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It, That it is owing to Ignorance, that several Things in Revelation seem liable to the Charge of Foolishness; I now proceed,

IIdly, To prove, that God hath stamped the brightest Characters of Divinity on some Parts of Revelation, which are thought most exceptionable.

The Almighty seems to have observed the same Design in constructing the Body

of

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