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of it, though a contrary Custom and Inclination, and the Subtilty of Satan, working upon our depraved Nature, might perhaps, have made it very difficult, if not impossible, without a Revelation, to discern many Doctrines, even in Morality, which are now common and familiar to us.
However this be, *tis certain, that the most eminent Philosophers, such as Pythagoras, (Plato, DemocrittiSy and others, finding but a Dearth of Knowledge at Home, travelled for Improvement into other Parts i and, as Egypt was accounted the chief Seat of Learning, there were few Men of Note, who went not thither to compleat their Studies; where, conversing with the Jews, who were there in great Numbers, and having the Opportunity of consulting the Law of Moses in the famous Ptolemean Library, they might from thence collected many remarkable Doctrines, though, when they came to publish them, they disguised and blended them with their own Notions and Inventions.
We will suppose however, that one Were igof these Sages, without any such foreign noram of Assistance, had, by deep and intense 152% Study,g satisfied himself of the Existence Shine of a God; acquired right Notions 0fmr&ip' E e 4» his
• Cenjleatti Expediency of Divine Revelaton.
his Power, Wisdom, Justice, [and Goodness; established his Belief of a Providence j found out the Relation, in which we stand to God as his Creatures, our Obligations to worship and obey him in general, the Duties of Justice, Charity, and Temperance, in the more obvious Instances, and our Obligations to suffer, as often as we deviate from the known Rules of our Duty. Suppose him, I say, fraught with this Knowledge of his own Acquisition, yet, when his Reason comes to remind him of the general Necessity of worshiping God, and of obeying his Will, how will he come to the Knowledge of what that particular Worship is, which will be acceptable to him, or what those particular Duties are, in which he expects to be served. h Obedience to the Obligations of Nature, and Imitation of the moral Attributes of God, the wisest Philosophers might easily know were undoubtedly the most acceptable Service, that they could pay him; yet, as some external Adoration seemed also to be necessary, how this was to be performed, they could not with any certainty discover: and therefore not only they themselves complied generally with the outward Religion of their Country, but advised others to do
the the same, and so, notwithstanding all their wise Discourses and rare Discoveries, fell lamentably into the Practice of the most foolish Idolatry and Superstition.'
i *■ Clark's Demonstration, &c.
But we will suppose our Philosopher of the to have surmounted this Difficulty, and 04fe^°d to have devised, for himself and his taining Followers, a compleat and rational Form *ard°n of Worship; yet, since he knows him-""' self to be frail and peccable, he cannot but be conscious of many Transgressions in Life, whereby he hath merited the Divine Displeasure, and exposed himself to the dread of Punishment: In which Case, what Method will his natural Reason suggest to attone for his Sins, and make Satisfaction to the injur'd Majesty of Heaven? Reason will tell him, ! that God is good, as is visibly seen in the whole Creation, and in the ample Provision, which is every where made for the comfort and wellbeing of all his Creatures. Reason will tell him, that God is good to Sinners, as is manifest from his wonderful Patience and Long-suffering towards them, under the daring and manifold Provocations, they arc, every Day, guilty of, but Reason cannot shew him, how long this Patience will last, or how far this Goodness to Sinners will extend.
'Burnet'i Dcmonst. of true Religion, Vol. i.
The same Reason, that assures him of" God's Goodness and Patience, will likewise inform him of his Wisdom and Holiness j and, as these must agree in the lame perfect Nature, Reason can admit of no other Notion of his Goodneis, but fiich as is consistent with his Wisdom and Holiness: And the natural Consequence of this must be, that God will fliew himself as good to Sinners, as his Wisdom and Holiness fliall direct; but who can tell, when the Wisdom and Holiness of God shall exact severer Methods?
The best, and indeed the only Thing, that a Sinner can do, to obtain a Reconciliation with God, is to Repent: k But whether Repentance alone will do, or whether God will not require something farther, for the Vindication of his Justice, and of the Honour and Dignity of his Laws and Government,and for the expressing more effectually his Indignation against Sin, before he will restore Men to the Favour they have forfeited, our Philosopher can never satisfactorily be assur'd. -.A good Father, he sees, forgives his Son, when he Repents; a good Master his Servant; and.a generous Man his Enemy: But, at the fame time, he perceives, that, in good
* ClarTs Demonstration, &c.
and wise Governments, Magistrates find
The Truth is, the Heathen World was so little acquainted with this Notion of the Validity of Repentance to expiate Sin, that we find it not once mentioned in all their Writings. Their great Reliance was on Sacrifices; but, as m these rather suggested to them the Death, which they deserv'd, .than the Deliverance, which they wanted, the most considering Persons among them could not forbear declaring, that they thought such Rites could avail little or nothing towards appeasing the Wrath of aNprovok'd God, or making their Prayer acceptable in his Sight.
Thus you see how incompetent human Reason (even in its highest pitch of Elevation) is, to fix those Points, which are purely of a Religious Nature; and in what Doubts and Perplexities Mankind must necessarily have been left, when they neither knew the way of serving God acceptably, when he was pleas'd ; nor of reconciling themselves to him, when he was known to be angry ■ Conyltm's Expediency of Divine Revelation.