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a perpetual Intercourse with Men, and,' 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 anyother 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 other 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 mould instruct us more perfectly in the Nature of his Will, than what any Reasoning of our own Minds, without such Instruction and Assistance, cart possibly teach us.
Since therefore there was manifestly wanting a Divine Revelation, to relieve the Necessities of Men in their natural State; and since 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 iuitable to our natural Notions of the Goodnels 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 Goodnels was all along inclined to make liich a Revelation, whenever his infinite Wisdom should think lit: And therefore, since the Christian Religion has been offer'd to the World as a Divine Revelation.
idly. Our next enquiry is, whether Tllc &*■ jt comes up to this high Character, i. e. Christian* whether the Discoveries, which it hasReveiatimade, both in Relation to Knowledge oa' and Wratfice, be suitable to the Attributes of God, and answerable to the Exigences of Man. Now if we reflect upon what has been said 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 groily 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, stiou'd supply them with z sufficient Syjiemoi all necessary G g frutbst
Truths, in order to inform their Minds, and with a perfect Rule of all necessai y Duties, in order to direct their Lives: and 'tis by this Criterion that we desire to try the Merits of Christianity, both as to its speculative and praBical part.
^aionV "But as t0 ^speculative part of gainst the" Christianity, Jays the Enemy preApsteries « Jently, we have a little too much of Christian " *ts Doctrines, which leem not a little Religion." Contradictory, and Mysteries, that we cannot comprehend, even tho' you fay they are reveal'd. The Existence of a God, the Dispensations of Providence, the Spirituality of our Souls, a future State and future Judgment, these are points, that we readily allow, because they are founded in the nature of Things, and rife in the Mind upon the Diiquisitions of Rea"Ion; but as lor your Stories of the "'Trinity, the Co-equality, Incarnation, "and Propitiation oijesas, &c. of these "we can frame no manner of Concep*' tion, and therefore yovi must excuse "us, if we do not believe them. h For "where is the Crime of not performing "Impossibilities, or not believing what does "not appear to us to be true? What worse Opinion can we have of the Di
"vine Goodness, than to imagine, that a "mean denial of our Reason, or a wretch"ed Jffeelation of believing any point, too *' hard for our Under/landing, can entitle "its to his Favour?
It cannot be denied indeed, but that, An<WrM in the Christian Religion, there are ma- from the ny great Myfteries^ or Doctrines of too r^^*f much lubljmity for the powess of Rea-the son, unassisted by Revelation, to find J^/ out, or, when discovered, fully to com- selves. prehend; but this is no more than what we might reasonably expect, considering the nature and quality of the Things, it treats of. In its main Intendment, it is a kind of Comment upon the Divine Nature, or an Instrument to convey right Conceptions to the Soul of Man, as far as it is capable of receiving them. But now God, we know, is an infinite Being, without any Bounds or Limitations of his Essence; wonderful in his Actions, inconceivable in his Purposes, and inexpressible in his Attributes; and how can such vast and mighty Things be crouded in a little finite Understanding? How shall our poor, short Faculties be able to measure the lengths of his Eternity, the breadth and Expansions of his Immensity, the heights of his Prescience, the depth of his Decrees, and, G g z last
last of all, the unutterable, incomprehen-. sible Mystery of two Natures united into one Person, and again of one and the same Nature diffus'd into a triple Personality? When a Man that is born Blind (as' one expresses it) shall be able, on hear-say, to conceive in his Mind all the Varieties and Curiosities of Colours, or to draw an exact scheme of some fine City, or Map of some large Province, then may we expect, in this degenerate State of our Understanding, to comprehend the ways of the Almighty, and by searching find out God: but (to do Justice to the Argument on the other side) as it would be extremely foolish and irrational, for a blind Man to affirm, that there is no such thing as Colours, or Lines, or Pictures, because he finds that he cannot form in his Mind any true Perception of them; so would it be equally, if not superlatively more unreasonable, for us to deny the great Mysteries of our Faith, because the Plummet of our Reason will not reach them, whi h Wish therefore we may, that Religion are a pro- were left difficult to us, but, at the same per Sub-1jme, we ought to remember that we wish Jmr p°l- away that, which, in reality, is Religistnt on's present Commendation, as well as an ingredient of our future Happiness.
[Sou 'h's Sermons^ Vol. I.