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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 lb 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,l having their under (landing darken d (as he tells us elsewhere) and being alienated from the Light of Gody 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 a were
r Bishop os London* ad Pastoral Letter. J 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.
the same Folly and Superstition, that prevailed on it before.
This is a true State of humane Rea- A Sumion, in its present ruinous and deprav'd ma,7 Condition. In our Minority, equally pi.escnt capable of bad as well as good Impres- State sions, and form'd entirely by the Exam- ^e^d pies we see,or by the Institutions of thole, our want that have the Charge of our Education; of a Rein our Maturity, the Author of our Passions and Desires, our Humours and Appetites, and the ible Agent of all the Evil, as well as all the Good we do: In its highest Pitch of Improvement, uncapable of finding out any proper Offices of Religion, or fixing any certain Rule of Morality either for onr selves or others: In the Breast of the greatest Philosopher, over-spread with Error, ignorant in many, and doubtful in all the great Principles and Motives of Religion, and, thereupon, ensnar'd in diverse hurtful Lusts; and much more in the Breasts of the Vulgar, funk in Ignorance and Stupidity, and thereby submitted to the wiles of the Tempter, and J taken Captive by him at his Will. And is this the Faculty, of which we hear such loud Boasts, and to which the absolute (Perfeffions of Immutability andl« "fallibility are ascrib'd? Is thisz the
'» Tim. ii. i6, * Vid. Christianity as old, &c. 6*, 61.
fundamental Law of the Universe, that can tell us more than Books or Masters, more than the two Tables of Mo/es, or the twelve Tables of the Greeks, and of which all other Laws are but Copies and Transcripts? Is this the only Principle that is allowed us, to inform our Minds in all religious Truths, and direct: our Conduct in all moral Actings? This the only Pilot, to steer our Course thro' the tempestuous World, in the midst of so many Dangers, Avocations, and Snares; with so many Lusts within, and Temptations without to carry us wrong; so many Syrens to allure us, so many Rocks to dash us, and so many Waves tojwallow us up quick? Whether God, in this Method, would have made a sufficient Provision for Man's Salvation, we will not here Disoute; but, a to consider humane Reason, as it is in Fact, modified by the various Disabilities, Passions, and Prejudices, which will ever prevail among the greater Part of Mankind; and then consider every Man, left in this wild disconcerted State, without Rule or Guide, to search out Truth and Happiness by his own Collections j the Di* stractions and Perplexities which must needs eniue, would make every wise
* Rent's Neccffiry of Divine Revelation.
Man wish for some thing better: And if ib, what can we imagine more desirable, more apposite to the wants of humane Nature in such a Case, than that God should interpose, and by an authoritative Declaration of his Will, instruct those, that were ignorant, and direct those that were going astray.
Since a divine Revelation therefore must at least be allow'd to be an eligible Thing to Man, and highly conducive to his Happiness, it may be worth our while to enquire,
iji. Whether it be equally consistent with the Notions we have of God that he should make one. And
idly, Of what particular Nature and Quality the Chriflian Revelation is, which we pretend he has actually made.
1/?, If we may form a Judgment from A Revethe general Sense of Mankind, we shalllati°" hardly find any one, who believed the wjth the Existence of a God, and did not believe Attrilikewise some kind of Commerce and Q "s os Communication between God and Man. bThis was the Foundation of all the Religious Rites and Ceremonies, which every Nation pretended to receive from their Gods; and, what gave Birth to their Arts of Devination, was the Persuasion, that their Gods had
k Sherlock's Scrm. Vol. i.