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have the greatest share of their Time taken up in providing themselves with the Necessaries of Life. To many, that have more Leisure and Opportunity, thinking and reasoning is so difficult a Task, that they choose rather to content themselves with Ignorance in such Points, as they are not bold enough to hope for Knowledge: In some, that might prevail with themselves to attend to the Instructions of the Philosopher,0 their pre-conceiv'd Opinions, concerning religious and moral Matters, are a strong Obstruction: And by those, who had devoted themselves to Licentiousness, the most prevailing reasonings would not be regarded, when they came to disturb them in their darling Vices, and to teach them what they had no desire to know. Or by Thus, by one means or other, our theirown P Philosopher's good Intention of reform
Autbority. ^ ^ Wosld ^^ be entirdy ^
unless (which comes next to be considered) his own Credit and Authority, would stand him any stead, but on this he can have no just Reliance. The natural Equality of all Men is a Notion,which, however true, when rightly understood, is liable to be abused to very
• Bffrart's Dcmonft. Vol. i, * Cor>)beare'i Expediency of Divine Revelation.
unhappy Purposes. It will, indeed fol-
in Points of this Nature, unless it be conformable to his own private Opinion* For let us suppose our Philosopher addressing himlelfto a Libertine, and persuading him to leave his Vices, and confine himself within the Rules that he would prescribe him; might not he answer his Adviser ?—" 11 am no more "under your Direction in this Affair, "than y*m are under mine. In some "Things, as a Man of more enquiry, "I may permit you to fee for me, but "you must allow me, I hope, to feel "for my self. I feel my self happy in "the way of Life, which I have cho"sen, and shall become very uneasy "by the Restraints, which you advise* "Pursue you then your own Satisfacti"on, in what manner you please, and "leave me to the same Liberty in con"suiting mine". I see not what return he could make to such an Answer, or by what Argument he could hope to prevail on his Compliance; but I plainly see thejustnefs of that reply ,which anr ancient Author makes to the Question, D/V the (Philosophers then teach nothing that •was right?" Yes, lays he, many Things j "but their Precepts have«no Weight, "because they are humane, and want
u a divine
, Rover's Necessity of a Divnie RevcUtion.
tc a divine Sanction. They are hot be"liev'd, because he, who hears, thinks "himself a Man, as well as he, who "teaches." And therefore, to remedy this Default,f some Philosophers (when they pretended to prescribe a general Rule) have called in the Assistance of a superior Being, and endeavoured to stamp a divine Credit on their own Institutions; which, tho'it was a vile Imposture, is nevertheless a plain Argument, s that no Principle was preium'd sufficient to engage the Reverence and Submission of Men to any System of Rules, but a Persuasion that they came from Heaven, and were ratified by divine Authority.
. Thus we have examin'd the utmost Capacity of human Reason, unassisted by divine Revelation^ in order to find out how far (upon the Supposition of its utmost Improvement) it might possibly go: And come now to enquire how far (upon Trial and Experiment) it actually did go, or rather how far \tfellJhort of being an adequate Guide in Matters of Religion and Morality.
3. It will be no Disparagement, I hope,- The into the present Age, to luppole h that the cicm mancient Philosophers had as great Strength lfDfm
•r Do ignorant
'Crnybear's Expediency. 'Roger'* Necessity of j" .maf^ a Div.Rev. "Bp. of London's -d Pastoral Letter. Poims'
F f of
of Reason and Judgment, as sincere a Desire to find out Truth, and as great Diligence in enquiring after it, as any of our modern Unbelievers ; and yet, if we look into their Writings, we shall find, that they were utterly ignorant in many great and important Points of Religion.
They were ignorant of the true Account of the Creation of the World, and the Original of Mankind \ and therefore x some of them held all things to be eternal, while y others imputed them to Chance, and those, that allow'd them a Beginning, knew nothing of the Manner and Gradations, whereby they rose into so beautiful an Order.
They were ignorant of the Origin of. Evil, and therefore they devised two contrary Principles, in perpetual Conflict with each other; and tho' they were sensible that human Nature was strangely corrupted, yet they acknowledged that its Corruption was a Disease, whereof they knew not the Cause, and could not find out the Cure.
They were ignorant of the Method, which God in his eternal Counsel, had ordain'd for the Recovery of loft Man, • without any Infraction upon his Attributes. This was a Mystery far above
"Peripflletkh.' y Epicureans.