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men, and that his goodness is such, that he will not suffer them to be under the necessity of a delusion, which they must be, if, when they have the highest assurance and satisfaction that such a thing is a divine revelation, they may be deceived. Further, he considers the matter of the revelation, and if it neither contradicts any essential and fundamental notion of his understanding, nor any other former revelation, he thinks himself obliged to entertain it. The confidence of enthusiasts in their imaginary inspirations arising from a defect of their reason and judgment, is in itself no more an argument against this, than because sense is sometimes deceived and imposed upon, that therefore it is never certain ; or because there are errors and disputes among mankind, that therefore there is no truth. Confidence in imaginary inspirations may be great, but the perception, and so the assurance, cannot be equal to what is real.

Q. How can they that receive the revelation from the persons inspired, judge of the truth of such a revelation?

A. From the credibility of the persons pretending to inspiration, that they be of known probity and approved integrity, and that they be endowed with prudence and understanding ; for God's choice of persons for so peculiar a service doth, in that way, either find or make them fit. From the extraordinary evidence and testimony they give that they are inspired, as working of miracles, which must be unquestionable as to their number and quality, and to the public manner of doing them; and the prediction of future events, which God claims as a prerogative to himself, because such things, being out of the reach of any created understanding, are a more certain proof of a divine power, the working of miracles themselves. From the matter

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of the revelation, which, when it concerns mankind in general, must be worthy of God, as proceeding from him, and must tend to the advantage and satisfaction, and happiness of mankind, to whom the revelation is made: for justice, holiness, and goodness, are as necessary and as essential to our idea of God as power; and consequently, a revelation that contradicts these attributes cannot come from God. This evidence is very necessary, and may reasonably be expected, and is a proof of the highest nature; and what, as every man can judge of, being a master of sense and reason, so it is what every man ought to be concluded by.

Q. What evidence is necessary for those who live at a great distance from the age of those persons that were inspired, to satisfy them of the truth of that rerelation they are obliged to believe?

A. The credible report of eye and ear witnesses concerning the miracles that have been wrought, and the predictions that have been foretold to prove persons inspired, conveyed down to us in such a manner, and with such evidence, as that we have no reason to doubt of the truth of them; which is all the evidence that can be had in such circumstances, and which must be presumed necessary, and therefore is sufficient. .

Q. But since the proof of revelation at a distance depends upon the truth of matters of fact, what general rules are there, that when they all meet, matters of fact cannot be false?

A. There are four rules that make it impossible for matters of facts to be false, where they all concur. First, that the matters of fact be such as that men's outward senses, their eyes and ears, may be judges of it. Secondly, that it be done publicly in the face of the world. Thirdly, that not only public monuments be

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kept in memory of it, but some outward action to be performed. Fourthly, that such monuments and such actions or observances be instituted, and do commence from the time that the matter of fact was done.

Q. Wherein appear the advantages of these rules for the proof of matters of fact?

A. The two first rules make it impossible for any such matter of fact to be imposed upon men, when such matter of fact was said to be done ; because every man's eyes and senses would contradict it. And the two last rules make it impossible that any such matter of fact should be invented some time after, and imposed upon the credulity of after-ages; because, whenever such matter of fact came to be invented, if not only monuments were said to remain of it, but likewise that public actions and observances were constantly used ever since the matter of fact was said to be done, the deceit must be detected by no such monuments appearing, and by the experience of every man, woman, and child, who must know that no such actions or observances were used by them.

Q. Pray give an illustration of the force of the two first rules?

A. To illustrate the two first rules ; suppose any man should pretend that yesterday he divided the Thames in the presence of all the people in London, and carried the whole city, men, women, and children, over to Southwark on dry land, the waters standing like walls on both sides; I say, it is morally impossible, that he could persuade the people of London that this was true, when every man, woman, and child could contradict him, and say that this was a notorious falehood. Therefore it may be taken for granted, that no such

imposition could be put upon men, at the time when such public matter of fact was said to be done.

Q. How may the two last rules be illustrated ?

A. Suppose a story should be invented of a certain thing done a thousand years ago, perhaps some might be prevailed upon to believe it; but if it be said that not only such a thing was done, but that, from that day to this, every man at the

age
of twelve

years

had a joint of his little finger cut off, and that every man in the nation did want a joint of such a finger; and that this observation was said to be part of the matter of fact done so many years ago, and vouched as a proof and confirmation of it, and as having descended without interruption, and having been constantly practised in memory of such matter of fact, all along from the time that such matter of fact was done; it is impossible, in such a case, that the story could be believed, because every one could contradict it, as to the mark of cutting off a joint of the finger, and that being part of the matter of fact, must demonstrate the whole to be false.

Q. What may we learn from those frequent discoveries God has made of his will to mankind ?

A. The infinite goodness of the divine nature, whereby God has always supplied his creatures from time to time with all necessary means to conduct them to eternal happiness. That his wise providence does not only take care of our bodies, and govern all those temporal concerns that relate to them, but that it extends itself to what is of much greater importance, our immortal souls which must be for ever happy or miserable in another world ; that the great unhappiness of man consists in withdrawing his dependence upon God; for nothing but a wilful and obstinate neglect of those discoveries God hath made of himself, can ruin and destroy him. That the divine

revelations being accompanied with all the evidence and proof that things of that nature are capable of, infidelity becomes highly unreasonable and inexcusable, and can be resolved into nothing but the unaccountable pride, and sinful passions of men; they love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil."

THE PRAYERS.

FOR THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

O GOD, who, as at this time didst teach the hearts of thy faithful people, by sending to them the light of thy Holy Spirit; grant me, by the same Spirit, to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort, through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

FOR THE ADVANTAGES OF REVELATION.

ALMIGHTY God, who hast created all things by the word of thy power, and for whose pleasure they were and are created; who preservest all things by the conduct of thy wise providence, and by whose gracious concurrence all things do subsist; I had lain asleep in the shades of darkness, if thy powerful hand had not awakened me into being; I had long since sunk into my primitive nothing, if the continual supplies of thy goodness had not secured my preservation. It is still a further degree of thy distinguishing mercy, that thou hast ranked me among those creatures that are made capable of worshiping their Almighty Creator ; and who, when they apostatized from thee by their wilful folly,

John ji. 19.

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