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phy more certain and demonstrable: Or, what new Discoveries soever fome Men may think these late Ages have made, they have not made many Converts: but Atheists and Infidels are so still. This, as you have heard, was one Reason which made the Gospel Revelation necessary : and we know the Preaching of the Gospel converted great Multitudes to the Faith and Worship of one Supreme God, as well as to the Faith of Christ, whom Philofophy never could convert. And if this were the Way to establish the Knowledge of one Supreme God, and the Faith of Christ in the World, is it not the ready Way to banish them out of the World again, to set afide. Revelation, and to return to the Old Eternal Wranglings of Philosophy ?
Indeed the Being and Nature of one Supreme God, does not immediately fall under my Notice at this time, but the Nature of the Argument requires some Notice to be taken of it.
Some Men, contrary to the most evident Ex-, perience, think, that the Being of a God cannot be proved from Divine Revelation ; because we must first believe the Being of a God before we can believe that he has made any Revelation of his Will to the World: Which is in part true, that we cannot prove the Being of God from any Text in the Bible, because we must first believe that it is the Word of God, and consequently we must believe that there is a God, whose Word that is, before we can believe any Thing upon the Authority of a particular Text; and therefore we must believe a God before we can believe that Text; and then it comes too late to prove that there is a God. And yet it is very evident, that the Preaching of the Gospel converted Men to the Belief and
Worship of one supreme God, as well as to the Faith of Chrift: And the Reason of it is very plain; for the Apostles of Chriit did as well teach the Worship of the one Supreme God, as the Faith of Christ; and therefore those mighty Works which gave Testimony to the Apostles Preaching, did equally confirm both. · Revelation is a new kind of Proof, which has nothing to do with Reason and Philofophy. Men oppose Reason, or the Shews and Appearances of Reason, to Reason ; and every Man thinks his Reason as good as his Neighbour's; · and Personal Honour, or the Honour of a Sect and Party, makes the Dispute Eternal. But no. Man ever ventured to deny, that what is revealed by God is true ; and therefore this is the on, ly way to secure our own Faith, to resolve it wholly into a Divine Revelation, which all the Difficulties and Subtilties of Philofophy can ne.. ver couch ; and this is the only effectual way of dealing with Atheists and Infidels. If you can prove by visible and sensible Effects, that God has revealed Himself and his Will to the World, you unanswerably confuçe the Atheists, who believe that there is no God: And if you can prove that God has revealed another World to us, that he has promised Eternal Life to Good Men, and threatned wicked Men with Eternal Death, you confute the Infidel: And therefore if ever we would have an End of this Controversy, which Natural Reason and Philosophy can never make, we must bring it to this short Ilue, Whether God has made a Revelation of his Will to the World, and what it is?
But is there no Use then of the Light of Reason, and the Philosophy of Nature, in this Controversy ? Müft we give all this up to A
theists theists and Infidels? This is what they desire, and what they glory in ; and after all that can be said, will conclude themselves to be in the right, if they have the best Reason on their side. And I confess, were this the Case, they might well conclude so, for the best Reason is always in the right..
The Sum of what I have said is this, That though there are a great many Arguments of the Immortality of the Soul, and a Future State, which you and I may think very good Arguments, yet we must resolve our Belief of another World wholly into Revelation. Other Arguments may, and are, and always will be disputed, and will be thought good or bad, according to Men's Understandings and Inclinations: but the Gospel bath brought Life and Immortality to Light ; has made it in a manner visible to us; has left no more place for doubting and difputing, than there is for doubting of what we fee. If we believe the Gospel, we can want no other Proof of Immortal Life ; and to pretend to believe the Gospel, and not to be satisfied without some Natural and philosophical Demonstrations, is a Symptom of Infidelity, and resolves our Faith into doubtful Disputations ; it teaches Atheists and Infidels to despise Revelation, when they see that we our selves are not satisfied with it; and when we have laid that aside we may dispute eternally without convincing one another. This disappoints one great Design of preaching the Gospel, which was to put an end to these uncertain Disputes, and to give us a more sure Word of Prophecy for the Foundation of our Faith. The powerful Effects of this were visible in the Conversion of the World to the Faith of Christ ;
and and the Mischiefs of declining a Revelation, and reviving the old Philosophick Disputes, is also too visible in the increase of Atheism and Infidelity among us. And therefore let us bring the Controversy back again to Revelation. What have we to do with what the Philosophers have said, and what their Opinions were about it? Why should we trouble our felves with uncer tain Reasonings, when we have the express Promises of Immortality?
SECT. II. Of what Use Natural and Moral Argu
ments are, for the Proof of the Immortality of the Soul, and a Future State.
T o state this Matter plainly, I shall, First,
T shew you upon what Accounts, and in what Sense I say, that we ought to resolve our Belief of another World, not into Natural and Moral Arguments, but into the Gospel Revelation. .
2. Of what Use these Natural and Moral Arguments are to our felves.
3. What Use we are to make of them in our Disputes with Infidels. .. 1. As for the first, niy meaning is not, that there are not very good Arguments of a Fulure State, besides the express Declarations and Promises of the Gospel ; such Arguments as have the highest probability, and would be a fufficient Reason to persuade unbiassed and unprejudiced Men, though there were no other ; for we must allow this, unless we will say, that Mankind, before . . I
the Publication of the Gospel, believed another Life without any Reason fufficient to persuade a Wise Man: But my meaning is, that the Revelation of the Gospel is the only certain Proof of another Life; so plain, that every Man must understand it; so express that no Man can deny it. If we believe the Gospel, it will admit of no Dirpute: Infidels themselves do and must confess this, that if the Gospel be true, nothing can be more certain than that there is another Life. Now if the Gospel gives us the only absolute and indisputable Certainty, here we ought to acquiesce ; we need no other Arguments to prove that which we certainly know already; and therefore we need not, unless we please, dispute whether they be true or false ; and it is the safest way for the generality of Christians not to do it. The generality of Christians are not well skilled in Disputation, and therefore may be bamed by a witty !nfidel ; but all the Wic and Sophistry in the World can never answer a plain Revelation. This makes the meanest Christian an overmatch for the subtilest. Philosopher : And therefore here is our Security and our safe Retreat ; and this is what I mean by resolving our Faith wholly into Revelation ; not to reject and despise all other Arguments, as worth nothing, and of no use to us į but yet to build our Faith upon Revelation, and not to suffer any other Disputes to stagger us, while we have God's Word and Promise for another Life: And upon these Terms we may venture to dispute other Matters, when whatever the Success be, our Faith is secure. Suppose you should meet with an Infidel, as such Men are too often to be met with, who should dispute very subtily against all the common Arguments for the Immortality of the Soul, and a