« AnteriorContinuar »
down their Lives for the Truth of what Sérm. II. they said ; who could not be deceived themfelves, had no Interest to deceive others nor could have deceived them if they would ? Are there standing Monuments and sensible Observances, appointed to keep up the Memory of other ancient Matters of Fact, commencing from the Time, in which the A&tions were done, and from thence, as from the first Link, descending to Posterity in one continued Chain? Did any Religion besides conquer by suffering and by having it's Thousands, and ten Thousands fain? Or did any besides, though it’s Inftruments were vastly unequal to the Task, bear down all Opposition, and triumph over the Rage of the Jews, the Learning of the Philosophers, the Power of Emperors, and the Prejudices and Passions of all Mankind?
If Christianity was an Impofture; it was an Imposture sui Generis, a pure Original, imitating no Imposture, that ever was heard of before, and which no Imposture, I dare say, will ever after venture to imitate: An Impofture, in which there could be no Priestcraft. For the Priests, by professing and propagating it, exposed themselves to superior Tortures : They stood in the Front
Serm. II. of the Battle, and were sure to fall the first,
and the Bishop generally ended in the Mar. tyr. An Imposture in which there could be no State-craft : For all the States of the World for three hundred Years were combined again it. .: So strong, in short, if we take the Arguments from Prophecy, the internal Excellency of Christianity, and the Necefsity of a Revelation into the Account, is the Evidence for Christianity ; that it is the last Thing I should believe that an inquistive unprejudiced Man, of a sound Head, and 'an upright Heart, could be a determined Infidel. Nothing ought to be admitted in Bar to such pregnant Proofs, but fome absolute Imposibility in the Nature of the Thing : Mere Difficulties weigh Nothing : For at that Rate we must disbelieve every Thing in Nature ; every Thing in Nature being attended with great, nay inJuperable Difficulties.
Could we suppose a Being in some other Part of the wide Creation, of the same Size of Understanding with ourselves, but an intire Stranger to the natural History of the World; should any one inform him of the amazing Properties of the Loadstone,
the Phenomena of Light and Colours, the Serm: II. Circulation of the Blood contrary to all the known Laws of Motion, the Revolutions of the Planets, the Cohæfion of Matter, the infinite Divihbility of finite Matter, nay, of the least Grain of that finite Matter, the surprizing Effects of Chemistry; he would think the History of Nature far more unaccountable, than any Deist can the Book of Grace, and the History of the Bible...
Poor short-fighted Creatures! the least Grain of Sand is able to baffle the finest Understanding : And yet we would pretend to found the Depths of the divine Nature , and Counsels ; never considering, what has been often observed, that, “ if what was re“ vealed concerning God, were always adapted “ to our Comprehenson; how could it with a“ ny Fitness represent that Nature, which " we allow to be incomprehensible ?” We need not to ransack the Scriptures for Difficulties: Every Thing about us and within us, above us and beneath us, convinces us, that we are very ignorant; and, if once we come to a Resolution to quit what is clear (such are the Proofs for Christianity) upon the Account of what is obfcure; we shall
Serm. II. run into universal Scepticism. We will not
believe, that the Deity does or discovers any thing marvellous and unaccountable in an unusual and supernatural Manner, though every Thing, that he does in the common Road of his Providence, be marvellous and unaccountable to us.
Though Men may disagree about Matters of pure abstract Reasoning ; yet every reasonable Man is determined by the Evi. dences for Matters of Faet, when they amount to a moral Certainty; unless it be in Cafes, where the Palhons intereft themselves, and indispose the Mind for the Reception of Truth. Every intelligent Per. fon, after Examination, must judge alike in these Matters ; except his Judgment be overruled, and his Affent obstructed by some wrong Affection, by some strong Biass, and some insuperable Prejudice, perhaps unsuspected by himself: Otherwise a Man might seriously dispute, whether Julius Cæsar made a Descent upon England, conquered Pompey, and was stabbed in the Senate House ; which no Man in his Senses ever did, or ever will do. Either then it must be maintained, contrary to what I have already proved, that the Evidences of
Christianity do not amount to a moral Cer-Serm. II. tainty, or, if they do, it will be difficult to assign a Reason, why clear, strong, and indubitable Proofs should not have as much Forçe and Weight in the Affair of Religion, as they have in all others; unless we may suppose there is something amiss within, some låtent Difingenuity, of Temper, which here, though not in other Cases, Thuts up all the Avenues, by which Light can find an Entrance. ; . ;
Though we have not a scientifical infallible Certainty of the Truth of Christianity; yet we have an infallible Certainty, that we ought to be determined by such Evidences, as Chrißianity is surrounded with: Because either we must act upon such Evidence in the daily Course of Life, or remain in a State of utter Inaction. He, that will not admit moral Certainty to be a sufficient Principle of Action; if his Practice be conformable to his Persuasion, must neither eat nor drink, till he has a mathematical Demonstration, that what he eats and drinks will prove wholefom; he will be sure of nothing in this World, but that he must, by acting up to such a Notion, depart speedily out of it. If we have a moral VOL. II.