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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 mary Condition. In our Minority, equally present capable of bad as well as good Impres- State sions, and form'd entirely by the Exam- ^""j pies we see,or by the Institutions of those, our'want that have the Charge of our Education; °f a ^c" in our Maturity, the Author of our Passions and Desires, our Humours and Appetites, and the lble 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 our selves or others: In the Breast of the greatest Philojbpher, 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 r taken Captive by him at his Will And is this the Faculty, of which we hear such loud Boasts, and to which the absolute Q'er-serfions of Immutability zndln fallibility are ascrib'd? Is thisz the
'* Tim. ii. %6> * Vid. Chrisiianity as old, &c. 6*, &i.
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.
a perpetual Intercourse with Men, and j* by various Means, gave them Intelligence of Things to come. And indeed 'tis hardly to be imagined, that God should make reasonable Creatures, on purpose to know him, and to be happy in the Knowledge, Love and Admiration of him, and yet withdraw himself from them, without giving them any other view of his Glory, than what they might perceive in the Reflection of his Creatures. Sin, 'tis own'd, has made a vast difference between God and us; but, if we must live in the 0ther World, and be happy or miserable there; if he Hill exercises any Care and Providence over us; or if he has any regard to his own Honour and Worship; it seems reasonable to expect, that he ihould instruct us more perfectly in the Nature of his Will, than what any Reasoning of our own Minds, without such Instruction and Assistance, can possibly teach us.
Since therefore there was manifestly wanting a Divine Revelation, to relieve the Necessities of Men in their natural State; and fince no Man can presume to say, that it is inconsistent with any of the Attributes of God, or unbecoming the Wisdom of the Creator of all Things to iiipply that want, to reveal to his
Creatures more fully the way of Happiness, and to make more particular Discoveries of his Will to them; nay, since, on the contrary, it seems much more suitable to our natural Notions of the Goodneft and Mercy of God, as well as to the State, wherein he hath placed us, to suppose that he should do all this, rather than that he should not, it must needs follow, that his Goodness was all along inclined to make such a Revelation, whenever his infinite Wisdom mould think fit: And therefore, since the Christian Religion has been offer'd to the World as a Divine Revelation.
idly^ Our next enquiry is, whether TIlc #*it comes up to this high Character, /. e. christian6 whether the Discoveries, which it hasRevelatimade, both in Relation to Knowledge0*and Wratfke, be suitable to the Attributes of God, and answerable to the Exigences of Man. Now if we reflect upon what has been laid concerning the state of Mankind, before the coming of the Go/pel, we cannot but perceive that they were strangely defective in their Notions, and grofly deprav'd in their Manners; and therefore, to effect a Reformation of both these, it was highly requisite, that a Religion, pretending to come from God, fhou'd supply them with z sufficient Syjiemoi all necessary Gg truths^