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IV.

all circumstantially foretold and exactly Serm. accomplished. And if we look forward from that Æra, we must observe a long continued Chain of Predictions beyond the Reach of human Knowledge; such as those relating to the Propagation and Continuation of Christianity to the End of the World ; the Reign of Antichrist ; the Dispersion and Restoration of the Yews; when all Kingdoms shall become the Lord's Kingdom, and all his Enemies be put under his Feet: Several of which being already fulfilled, give us abundant Reason to expect, that the rest will, in due Time, receive their Completion. And, whoever attentively weighs the Internal Evidences, will perceive they outweigh the Objections from the Internal Contexture of Revelation: to which if the External Proofs be added, the Scale turns with a vast Preponderancy in Favour of Christianity. It is a stupendous, complicated Scheme, and fuch as could never have entered into the Head of Uninspired Man; beginning from Eternity, carried on with great Uniformity, and ending only where all Things are lost, as to our Knowledge, in Eternity. Whatever Exceptions may be raised against this or that Prophecy; it appears upon the whole, that none could have formed, and thus far executed, fo uniform a Plan reaching throughout all Ages, but that Being alone whose Views

extend

G4

SERM. extend throughout all Ages, from Even

.

lafting to Everlasting. And could we take in the whole Compass of Providence from first to last, tracing each Link of the Chain; we might find there was not only a Consistency, there was even a Connection between all revealed Truths. Truth, like a large Diamond, would be moft beautiful could it be had by us unbroken; each Part lending a Lustre to it's neighbouring Parts, and receiving it back from them ; and all of them conspiring in a social Union to brighten and ennoble the whole. But such is the Poverty of our Understanding, that pot being able to be at a sufficient Expence of Thought to purchase it whole and undivided; we are forced to content ourfelves with some disjointed and independent Parts of it. But,

IIIdly, Let us suppose there are some Things 'not strictly reconcileable to Reason, and some Inconsistencies in little incidental Matters and Points of no Consequence ; Christianity, nevertheless, stands upon a firm Basis, as long as the principal Evidences for it remain unshaken, and the weightier Matters are worthy of God.

All seeming Contradictions as to Histo pical Accounts, minute Circumstances of Facts, and other incidental Passages, have þeen reconciled with a Clearness really furę

prizing;

IV.

prizing; and much more than could be rea- Serm. sonably expected as to Books written at such a Distance of Time; when several Records, which threw Light into these Matters, are entirely loft. But supposing this had not, or could not, be done; let it be considered, that it was not God's Design in giving a Revelation, to secure his Creatures from every Error however insignificant; but to secure them, if not wanting to themselves, from Errors of a moral and religious Nature. Cod's Goodness, in publishing his Will, only obliged him to inspire the Writers so far, as to answer all the valuable Purposes of publishing his Will. Which is effectually done by giving us, what we have in the Scriptures, a full, unerring System of moral and religious Doctrines; together with a sufficient Certainty of Fact to confirm them, and fufficient Motives to enforce them.

This being once granted, though the Scriptures should not be universally and infallibly exact in every Point, yet they are as exact as they need to be; infallibly exact as to all the beneficial Intents of a Revelation. It is, I hope, no dangerous, tho' needless Concession, to suppose, that the Stewards of the Mysteries of God, like wise Managers of an ample Estate, were punctual and careful in their Oeconomy as to the main Concern ; but, amidst their

great

IV.

SERM. great Abundance of spiritual Riches, did

not attend to every Article of frivolous Expence; the Omission of which drew no Manner of bad Consequence after it. It is not incumbent upon us in our Disputes with Deifts to prove, that Mofes, the Prophets and Evangelists were inspired to such a Degree as to be to a Tittle infallible as Historians. It is enough to prove that they were so as Prophets, Lawgivers, and Persons making known the Will of God; and that, as Historians, he guided them fo far, that they should not be guilty of any momentous Escapes or Inadvertencies; it being absurd to think, that when God gave a Religion built upon Facts, he would leave the Writers to themselves in relating those Facts upon which it is built; fo as to fall into fuch Inconsistencies as would affect the Credit of the Relators, and destroy the Credibility of the Relation.

It was no more strictly necessary, that the Deity should guard against trivial Errors, than that he should reveal useless Truths : it is enough that he hath discovered Truth as far as it is important to our Happiness ; and prevented Error, as far as it is of an hurtful Tendency. An extraordinary Assistance is seldom vouchsafed when such an Affiftance is not material : and certainly it was

no very material Point, that the Prophets and Apostles should

be

be secured from Mistakes that were not SERM.

IV. material; no more than it was so, that Providence should superintend all succeeding Transcribers, and preserve them from such Errata, as do not in the least defeat the original Intention of Revelation, or affect one essential Point. The grand Point is, whether we have satisfactory Evidence that Christianity is a Revelation from God containing every thing necessary to secure his Favour and our Happiness; not, whether it be a Revelation given us exactly in the fame Way and Manner that we may imagine it should have been; and with that Degree of Clearness, Fulness and Freedom from every Stumbling-block as we might have expected : For it has been proved *, that God does not, in the Course of his Providence, dispense other Blessings to us in the fame Way and Manner as we, previously to Experience, should have expected.

The Question therefore between the Deifts and us being not, whether the Inspiration of the Scriptures be universal as to every Thing however inconsiderable; but, whether it be fo sufficient as to take in all Points that have a Relation to Faith and Practice; so sufficient, that we may absolutely depend upon it in every interesting Concern: to set Christianity aside, it must

* See Bishop BUTLER's Analogy, Part II. Ch. 3.

not

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