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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.
and out of their Sight; tho' they might, by the Light of Reason, perceive, that it was incompatible with the Divine Wisdom to create Man in a State of Depravation, and with the Divine Goodness to suffer him for ever to lieremedi-s less under it.
They were ignorant (as we obierv'd before) of any Form of Worship, that might be acceptable to God, and of any certain way of appeasing his Wrath, when they were conscious of theirOffences against him; and therefore we find Cicero, the greatest and best Philosopher, that Rome, or perhaps any other Nation ever produced, z allowing Men " to "continue the Idolatry of their Anu ceftors, and advising them to con"form themselves to the superstitious "Religion of their Country, in offer"ing such Sacrifices to different Gods, as "were by Law established."
They were ignorant, at least they taught nothing, of the exceeding Love of God toward? us, of his Desire of our Happiness, and his Readiness to conduct us in the Ways of Virtue j and therefore * some of them made their supreme F f 2 Jupiter
1 A pttr'ihus acceplos Tleu placet coll, De Legib. L, 2.Item illud ex Injlittitis Pontijicuni fte Anr:isp':cum y.on mutavium e/?> quibus U>J!iii intnuhindxm cuipti Veoj ibid» * Epkure.ifita
"Jupiter a solitary kind of Being, wholly taken up in the Contemplation of his own Perfections, and leaving the Government of all sublunary things ac least, either to some inferior Agents, or to the Guidance of a blind unthinking Chance. And lastly,
They were ignorant, at least b they taught nothing, of a divine Grace and Assistance towards our Attainment of Virtue, and Perseverance in it j and therefore we find c others of them making such insolent Beasts, equalling themselves to the Gods, and sometimes d preferring themselves before them, because they had Difficulties to encounter, which made their Conquest of Vice, and their Improvements in Virtue more glorious in them, than in the Gods, who were good by the. Necessity of their Nature. Houb-fui And, as these Philosophers were utaud »>.- teriv ignorant of some, 16 were they far ethos, from being clear and consistent with themselves in other great Articles of Religion.
* Non (fills, quod bonus vir (set, gratias Diis egit uncjuam- Jovem optimum maximum ob eas teas appellant, non quod nos justos, temperas os, sapient es ejpciat, fed quod salvos, ir.colurr.es, opulentos, enpiosos. Cic. de Nat. Deorum. Lib. 3. * The Stoicks. * Est aliquid, quo sapiens antecedat Deum : ilte nature, Benrstrio, non [uojapiens est. Sen. Epist. JJ. Si ci i virtus animufque in corporc prefens, hie Deos <nquat. Epist. JH.
They had but dark and consus'd Notions of the Nature of God; and therefore the celebrated Socrates ingenuously confess'd, that all he knew of God was, that he knew nothing, and for this Reason endeavour'd to draw Men off from divine and celestial Contemplations, as being what he found too high for humane Reason to understand, and to betake themselves to the Study of Civil Life.
They had bute dark and confused Notions of the Summum Bonum, or Supreme Felicity of Man; and therefore Cicero tells us, that there was such a Dissention among them upon this Head, that it was almost impossible to reckon up their different Sentiments, even while himself is setting down the Notions of above twenty of them, all equally extravagant and absurd.
They had but weak and uncertain Notions of the Immortality of the Soul: for, however they might perceive it to have a spiritual Existence, f yet they could from thence deduce no Argument, but that God might destroy it, if he pleased; and therefore s Cicero plainly declares, that which of the two OpiF f 3 nions.
'Vid- Burnet's Demon A. L- I. f Steibing on the IJse and Advantage of Revelation. * Tusc. Quest,