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"~—— nor after their Deaths, had ever any very serm> considerable Number of Followers, ln

„_" deed the generality of Mankind understood neither the meaning of their'Terms, nor the force of their Reasonings. Only Men of Parts and Learning were qualified for the Studying their Books, and benefiting by them. But Christianity drew over vast multitudes of Converts of all Ranks aiid Conditions. Scarce a Century had pass'd after the Death of the Apostles, when the Court, the Camp, the Senate, Town and Country, all Places but the Idol-Temples were over-run with Christians. The Doctrine of the Gospel was of the most important Concernment to all j wherefore the wife and good God levell'd it to the Capacities of all, that all might understand it, and receive the Benefit of it.

Some very concerning and necessary Doctrines of Religion the Philosophers were wholly ignorant of. Others they understood very imperfectly, and diicours'd of them very obscurely and doubtfully. These the Christians of all Ranks

well well understood, ar|d upon sure GrouruJ* yielded an undoubting Assent to them. Even the Illiterate among the Christians were far superior in Knowledge of divine Things to the chief and most celebrated Philosophers. Husbandmen and.:Artificers, the Bond-men and Bond-women, were able to speak of the most soblime and important Truths with mofe clear*, ness and certainty than Socrates QxPlat9.. Of those who apply'd themselves to the Study of Philosophy, very few regulated their Conduct by it. It was commonly look'd upon by them as a pleasant and honourable Amusement,. as an ornamental and fashionable Accomplishment, - as an Exercise and Trial of Mens Abilities, as a Subject of Discourse and Disputation, rather than as a Rule of Life. So that the main End of Philosophy was hardly in any degree attain'd. The generality of those who profess'd it, deny'd in Works what in Words they pretended to know. But the Knowledge of the first Christians stopp'd not in Speculation, but carried them on to a suitable practice.


It "It had a sensible and remarkable Effect


upon their Tempers and Manners. They liv'd as they taught; not only their Discourses, but their Examples were instructive. They contented not themselves with drawing beautiful Pictures of Virtue, but shew'd to the World Virtue it self alive. In them Knowledge had its perfect Work; the genuine Fruits of it were visible in their Conversation, and evidently shew'd that it had taken deep Root in their Minds.

Who ever so far credited Socrates^ as to follow his Example in dying for the Truths which he asserted? But for the Doctrine of Jesus Christ an innumerable Army of Martyrs laid down their Lives, rejoicing that they were thought worthy to be made like to the Captain of their Salvation. No Age, no fort nor condition of Men declin'd the glorious Combat; many even of the weaker Sex voluntarily offered themselves to it. The Gospel was not a Light without Heat; it not only illuminated the Understandings, but warmed the Hearts of its Professors. fessors. The firm Assurance they had of the Truth and Divinity of it, animated se*m* them to endure all Extremities for it. For they had a clear View of that immortal Life, which till the Gospel appear'd was not perfectly brought to light. And their Knowledge was salutary; sufficient to bring them to that supernatural State of Happiness, to which Man was originally ordain'd, and which was not to be regain'd by Philosophy.

Thus the Knowledge of the Lord filled the Earth. It was suddenly diffus'd thro' all Countries of the known World, and communicated to great numbers of Persons of all forts and conditions. More divine Truths were difeover'd than formerly; and those which had been before difeover'd were known more clearly and certainly, and the Knowledge of them effectually answer'd the Ends for which it was design'd. It operated powerfully upon Mens Dispositions and Manners, and conducted them to a State of endless Felicity:

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Christianity at its first setting out made its way in the World without the . assistance of human Learning. The first Publication and Reception of it were evidently owing to Miracle, that Mens Faith might not stand in human Wisdom, but in the Power of God. Yet it cannot be denied but that afterwards Learning contributed much to the Support and Increase of it.

Many of the Fathers of the primitive Church were great Masters of human Learning, and did excellent Service to their Religion by it. Many Histories related in the Bible were confirm'd by parallel Citations from the most antient Pagan Historians. Many Doctrines of Scripture objected against by the Heathens of those Times, were {hewn to have been own'd by those Writers whom they most approv'd of and admir'd. The Scriptures themselves were early translated into all Languages, that the People of every Nation might read and hear in their native Tongue the Word of God, the unerring Rule of Faith and Manners.


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