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are weak, ignorant, and frail Beings ; but chat an honelt integrity of Mind tho’ it does not always succeed equally in discovering Truth, will yet certainly be accepted. But this is all Absurdity and Contradiction in the mouths of those, who assert that the Reason of every Man, in all States and Circumstances, is a more sure Guide in Matters of Religion, than Sense is, or can be, in che Things of this Life: In that Case Sincerity must always produce equal Knowledge, and uniform Effects. But this Term does not suit with this new System. For who ever talked of equal, or unequal Degrees of Sincerity, or any Sincerity at all, in discovering the Brightness of the Sun, or chat Snow is white.
In short, the plain Truth and marter of Fact is this, that Men consider'd apart by themselves, in cheir meer personal Sufficiency, are very Vol. I.
weak and imperfect Creatures in every View, and were intended to be such ; That whatsoever Perfections they may attain to, they arise chiefly from their social Relation, from their collective or corporate State, in which, Things are so ordered, that these feparately weak Creatures do form one Itrong and beautiful Body, fitly joined together and compa&ted, by that which every Joint supplieth. We are in a very strict Senle Members one of another, and no Member has in it felf any such Sufficiency, as to say to any other, I have no need of thee. All have their several Talents, and Abilities, Opportunities and Circumstances, Stations and Offices; some are designed to govern, others to obey; some to teach, others to learn. The different Orders of Mankind require, that different Provinces of Labour and Knowledge should be alligned to them.
Had Mankind from the Beginning made all possible improvements of their Powers, we cannot say to what high Degrees of Virtue and Knowledge, they might by this time have arrived : But God knew that this would not be the Case. One of the three Sons of Noah (by whom the whole Earth was overspread) was cursed soon after his coming out of the Ark. We have the History of the Wickedness, and Idolatry, and Punishment of his Posterity. We are told in plain Terms, that Men did not like to retain God in their Knowledge; the Cause of their Ignorance was wilful Obstinacy and Perverseness. The Posterity of such Men, bred up in, and prepossessed by Error, and hardened by the continual Influence of bad Examples, must be under the greatest Disadvantages: The Truth wholly neglected, and almost cancelled from among them; their Understandings darkened, and their
Minds reprobate; and themselves given up to all Uncleanness. thro' the Lufts of their own Hearts, having a real Esteem, and deliberate Preference of what was Evil. In this case, can we suppose these Men as capable of discovering all moral and religious Obligations, as their Senses were to discover sensible Objects ? Nothing could have been more provoking or unpardonable, chan this Sufficiency lo abused. These had not been Times of Ignorance, as the Apostle represents them; and therefore God could not have been said to have winked at them upon that Account. The abusing of such an absolute Sufficiency must have been every way inexcusable, and by this means, the Iniquity of these People had been immediately filled up.
But it is objected, that if Reason be not a sufficient Guide in matters of Religion, then five Parts in six of Mankind at this present, have no sufficient Guide at all in matters of Re
ligion, and for 4000 Years together, 299 Parts of a 1000 had no sufficient Guide to direct them in their Dury. That is, if the Reason of Mankind was not sufficient to difcover all religious and moral Obligations, they could not be accepted of God; as if every Man that has not ten Talents cannot have one. Is it not enough, that God is not a hard Master, that he does not reap where he has not sown, nor gather where he has not strewed, that Allowances will be made for different Accainments, and different Rewards assigned to them?
Again, it is objected, that if Reason was thus insufficient, and Revelation necessary to inform Mankind of their moral and religious Duties, why was not Revelation vouchlafed sooner; and when it was given forth, why was ic not granted equally to all ? Can this
Answer to the Poftfcript of the Second Part of Scripture vindicated. Pag. 10.