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And have they not at chefe Seasons, in the most serious manner imaginable, made Vows and Resolutions to live a Holy Christian Life? And yet we see they continue still Unreformed, ftill they are the same Sensual, Careless, Unchristian Livers that ever they were.
I appeal to the Consciences of Men, whether this be not true; and why should we think it would fare otherwise with us, if God should send one from the Dead to reclaim us? That very Miracle would not convince our Understandings more than they have been con vinced already; and, therefore, why should we think it would work more upon our Wills?
The Sum of all this Discourse, is this; That how prevailing foever we may imagine such an Experiment, as the Rich Man here offers to Abraham for the Conversion of his Brethren, would be upon us; yet a Senfual Man, that was unwilling to give up himself to the Conduct of Religion, might eafily find out Ways to avoid the Force that it ought to have upon his Mind; Nay, more easily, perhaps, than he hath hitherto resifted the Motives of the Gofpel. And, therefore, we may certainly conclude with Abraham in the Text, that they that hear not Mofes and the Prophets; or, to put it into our own Language, they that hear not Christ and his Apostles, neither, in all probability, would they be perfuaded, though one rose from the Dead.
Nothing now remains, but that I draw two : or three Inferences, from what hath been said, and so conclude.
In the First Place, From what I have difcoursed, upon this Argument, we may
discover the Infinite Wisdom of God, in the pitching upon that Method he hath done for the bringing Men to Vertue and Happiness; namely, by the Standing Revelations of MoJes and the Prophets, and of Christ and his Apoftles: For we may perceive this Method is every way more accommodated for that End, than if God should be every Day working Miracles for the reclaiming particular Persons.
As it is more fuitable to the other Methods of God's Providence; to the way that he hath chosen for the Government of the World, (which is by the settled. Standing Laws of Motion, leaving Natural Causes to produce their Natural Effects, and not -interpofing his Omnipotency, but upon especial extraordinary Occasions:-) So also, as we have seen, is it much more effe&ual for the convincing Mens Understandings, and the working upon their Wills, than the other Method of Private Miracles and Revelations would be.
We have seen how many Ways the Force of an Argument drawn from one's Appearance
from the Dead may be evaded : But now none of these Pretences, can be made against the Evidence of a Publick Revelation, To at. tested, and confirmed, and conveyed down to us, as that of Christianity is. And besides, t
there are many Arguments to be drawn from such a Revelation, to fhew the Credibility of it, which are altogether wanting to such a Private Miracle as we speak of.
Secondly, We may learn from hence, what little need there is of any new modern Miracles for the confirming to us any Do&rine of Christianity, which was long ago, in all the Articles of it, so well attested by the Illustrious Miracle of Christ and his Apostles.
And more especially we may learn from hence, what little Credit is to be given to those Miracles that are wrought, or pretended to be wrought, for the Proof of such Doctrines, as are really contrary to that Revelation of our Lord, as it is delivered in the Holy Scriptures.
We are sure that Mofes and the Prophets, Chris and his Apostles, taught nothing but the Truth of God, he having so publickly and so convincingly set his Seal to all their Doctrines. And we are sure likewise, that the Scripture contains nothing in it, but what was taught by them, and consequently must be the Truth of God also. And, therefore, if any Doctrine or Article of Religion be at any Time recommended to our Belief, that doth not agree with these Holy Writings, or doth contradict them either directly, or by plain unavoidable Consequence; we may be equally sure, that that Doctrine cannot be true, nor is to be received by us, though we are told of never so many private Miracles that have been wrought for the Confirmation of it.
Our Rule in these Cases is, To the Law and to the Testimony; To the publick and undoubtcd Oracles of God, in the Old and New Teftament. Whatever Do&rine can be proved out of them, we are bound to embrace it without a new Miracle. On the other side, Whatever Doctrine is inconsistent with them, we niust reject it, though an Angel from Heaven, or one from the Dead should come and preach it to us.
Thirdly, From hence we see the Vanity and Unreasonableness of those Men, that, not con tent with the Ordinary Means of Grace, are always wishing for Extraordinaries. There are a great many of us, that will be saved by Methods of our own chusing, otherwise we will not be saved at all. As it was in St. Pauls Timė, the Jews they required a Sign; the Greeks, they were for Wisdom and Philosophy; and, perhaps, a Third Sort of Men were for another kind of Means of Conviction: So it is among us.
Here is one Man would have a particular Miracle wrought for his Conversion. If, he could see a Spirit or a Ghost, he would believe there was another World. If God would send an Angel from Heaven to preach to him, he thinks he should become a New Man.
Here is another would believe the Gospel, if every Point of it could be demonstrated by Reafon, and a clear and . plain Account be given of all the Mysteries of it : But till that be done, he is of the Religion of the Philosophers.
Here is another man waits for immediate Impulses and Inspirations. The ordinary Affiftances of the Spirit, that accompany the Word and Sacraments, will not do his Business.
But let us not deceive ourselves. All these Imaginations are vain and foolish. If God should grant us our several Desires; and give one of us a Sign, another of us a Demonftration, another of us a powerful Conviction upon our Minds, from his Holy Spirit, and that in an extraordinary Way; yet it is still very doubtful, whether, for all this, the Business of our Converfion wonld be effected.
None was more confident than the Rich Man in the Parable, that if to the Testimony of Mofes and the Prophets, was super-added a New Miracle, his Brethren would certainly be persuaded : But yet, you see, our Saviour afa firms the direct contrary.
Oh, let us all close with the standing Publick Methods which God hath established in the Church, for the bringing us to Vertue and Eternal Happiness, and not be hankering after new and fanciful Ways of our chusing. Most certainly, the Ordinary Means of Grace are sufficient for the Salvation of all our Souls, and will be effectual to that End, if we be not wanting to ourselves. And if any Extraordinaries be at any Time needful, God, without doubt, will supply us with them alfo.
Fourthly and Lastly, From what hath been said, we see the horrible Guilt, and the utter