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First then, It is plain Matter of Fact, that no one Man did ever, by the meer Strength of his Reason, discover all our religious and moral Obligations: On the contrary it is Fact, that the best Writers were mistaken in many, and doubtful in the most important Points. One of the Authors above cited challenges the World to produce any Doctrine of Revelation whatsoever, and undertakes to thew the fame Doctrine to be taught by some Heathen Writer or other. Should we allow this, (which is in no Sense to be allow'd) yet it would by no means come up to his Point. For supposing that all the Doctrines of Revelation were to be found scatter'd up and down in some or other of the Heathen Writers, would it follow from thence that the Reason of every Man in all States and Circumstances was capable of discovering every moral and religious
Obligation ? He confesses that even these his admired Writers did not, each apart by himself, make all these Discoveries : It is known that they belong'd to different Schools, and maintained opposite Sentiments, and allowing that a compleat System of Morality and Religion might be collected from them all, yet the only natural and just Inference from hence would be quite contrary to this Author's, viz. That the Reason of every Man is not, in any State or Circumstance, capable of discovering all our :loral and religious Obligations, feeing, as is allowed, not one of these admired Writers was capable of doing it.
It must be owned, that some of these Writers have treated some particular Truths and Duties with great Scrength and Beauty; but after all, how Thall we be assured that these were the Products of meerly their
own Reason? The Greek Philosophy was brought out of Egypt, a Place which could not be ignorant of the Jewisho Revelations and Traditions ; the Roman Philosophy from Greece. Human Reason was so far from making these great Discoveries, that it did not in fact preserve those original Traditions transmitted to it; but turned them into idle and superstitious Fables, and by degrees lost the whole Truth of them, and perverted it into a Lye.
I would not infer more from Facts than they will reasonably support; and that is first, that it is highly improbable that there should be such a Sufficiency of Human Reason in all States and Circumstances, which never appeared in any one State or Circumstance, in any one Instance from the Beginning to this Day; and further, that if there be any such thing, it is impossible to be proved. For
what Proof can there be in the present Case, which does not flow from Fact or Experience? And secondly, that it is highly probable that no such Sufficiency was intended, because there was a traditional Knowledge set on foot from the Beginning, which could not be avoided, and this will at least take off all Pretences to any Necessity for such Sufficiency. We learn from the Jewish History and Revelation, that Man had no such Sufficiency in his State of Innocence as to exclude the Necessity of Revelation : He was made capable of conversing with God, and from thence might derive a Sufficiency, but had none of his own, of knowing and doing every thing independently of him.
But Secondly, let us leave History, and come tó our own Knowledge and Experience, which these Writers can make no Exceptions to our arguing from.
We are born Infants then, and come into the World the most helpless and insufficient of all Creatures, in every view. We cannot subsist for a considerable time, but by the Care and Protection of our Parents: We are at first meerly passive and teachable Creatures, under a necessity of learning the Language, the Customs, the Manners, the Notions of our Attendants and those about us; and Were we then to be removed from all others of our own Kind, if we could subsist at all, we should be without Language, and almost without Ideas, except what the hard Necessity of supporting our own Being would furnish us with, and instead of Philosophers, we should come our meer Savages.
Man is so much and so long a passive and teachable Creature, and those first Impressions, which he is under a Necessity of admitting, do so