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abetting Practices apparently flagitious j 9 That we find every Sect esteeming Revenge, not only lawful, but commend-? able, and the desire- of popular Jpflause, the greatest Incentive to all kind of Virtue; that we find some of the greatest of them full of the Praise of Self-Murther, and setting themselves for the Example of it to their Followers: that we find Cato commending Fornication, as a proper Remedy against Adultery; Plato, asserting the Expediency of Mens having their Wives in common; Chryfippus, teaching the worst of Incesty that of Fathers with their Daughters, and pleading the Lawfulness of unnatural Lust; that we find, in short, whole Fraternities degrading humane Nature into that of Beasts; the Cynicks laying aside all the natural Restraints of Shame and Modesty, to commit their Lusts openly ; and the Stoicks affirm-? ing, that no Words or Speech of any ■kind ought to be censured or avoided, as filthy and obscene. So true is the Observation^ which P Quintilian makes of the Philosophers of his time, viz. 7*hat the most notorious Vices were screen'd under that Name, and that they did nos labour to maintain the Character of Phi
'Bishop of London's id Pastoral Letter, and "Jenkins's Reasonableness, Vol. 1. f lust. L. I. Pries.
hfophers by Virtue and Study, but concealed very vicious hives under an aufiere Look, and a different Habit from the reji of the World.
And, if these Men of Speculation and Modem profound Reasoners, who made Reli- u"M'e
*. ' vets eti
gion and Nature their daily Study, far'd
1 Clark's Evidence of Natural and Revealed Religion.
Book would they have made the adequate Rule of their Lives and Conver— lations? Or had they set up for themselves, how are they certain, they should have been able to deduce the several Branches of their Duty, and to apply them to the several Cases of Life, by Argumentation and Dint of Reason? 'Tis one thing to find out a Rule at first, and another to perceive its Agreement with Reason, after it is found out for us; and the Difficulty is not much, when once we know our Duty, to begin and deduce its Obligation from Reason, but to begin and discover our Duty in all points, with all its true Motives, merely by the help of natural Reason, is a Work of Pains and Nicety, and like groping for an unknown Way in an obscure Twilight. And therefore those, who think themselves sufficient for such an undertaking, at least must be thought to condemn the Generations that are past, by their disparaging a Dispensation, which the best, and wisest, and least-superstitious of the Philosophers of old, were not aiham'd to confeis their want of. Thcw;Vi- Men may talk of the natural Light thfJ5fc-f and F°wer of Reason, as long as they thevwi'M please, and .the Topick perhaps is well j^n enough for popular Eloquence to
flourish upon: But when we appeal to Experience, we shall soon find it emptyBoast and pompous Harangue. If ever there was a Time, when human Reason might be a Guide in matters of Religion, 1 it was when our Saviour came into the World, or sometime before; when Knowledge of all kinds, and particularly the Study of Philosophy, was cultivated and improv'd with the greatest Application, and by the ablest Hands: And yet, it is hardly possible to read the first Chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, without Amazement, and many mortifying Reflections, to find rational Creatures capable of so wretched a Degeneracy, that no Object was so despicable, as not to be thought worthy of divine Honours, no "Vice so detestable or brutish, as not to obtain, not only in common Conversation, but even in their Rituals of Religion, and most solemn Acts of publick Worship. For,t having their understanding darken'd (as he tells us elsewhere) and being alienated from the Light of God, thro' the Ignorance that was in them, because of the Blindness of their Hearts, they incur'd not only the grossest Idolatry, and the most unnatural Lusts, but u were
r Bishop of London* ad Pastoral Letter. \ Eph. iv. :8. "Rom. i
filed likewise withUnrighteousness, Fornication, Wickedness, Covetousness, Maliciousness ; werefuUofEnvy,Murther, Debate, Deceit Malignity, were> Whisper-ers, Backbiters, Haters of Goo1, Despiteful, Proudy Boaflers, Inventors of evil Things; were Disobedient to Parents, without undersanding, Covenant Breakers, without natural Jffeffion, Implacable, Unmerciful, and (what is worst still) not only did these rfhings themselves, but took Pleasure likewise in those that did them.
In this Light it is, that the Apostle represents the State of the Heathen World, while it was under theGuidance of unassisted Reason: And if our Reason seems to guide us any better now; if it rejects those detestable Deeds of Darkness, and impious Modes of Worships, which it once reverenc'd and embrac'd, 'tis not because its Faculties are in themselves any clearer or stronger, than they were, but because it has submitted its Weakness and Ignorance, its Pride and Passions, to the Light and Authority of the Christian Revelation. * Take but away the Direction and Restraint of this Authority, and it will act just as it did, and relapse into the same Extravagances, the fame Impiety,
the * Roger's Necessity of Divine Revelation.