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ing these things? or can any Man doubt, that these Crimes often meet with severe Punishments even in this World, tho' Men will take no Warning by never so many Examples, but have need of continual Advice and Exhortation to keep them from the Commission of them? Is there the less Certainty in the Mathematicks, because Euclid, Apollonius, and innumerable others, of all Ages and Nations, have put forth Books and Systems of Mathematicks in several Forms and Methods.
When many write upon the fame Subject, it is an argument of the Excellency and Usefulness of it; not that they are dissatisfied in what has been already said by others, but that they think more may be said, or that some things may be proved more clearly, in another Method, with more advantage to some Capacities, and with greater probability of removing the Scruples of some Men. It is, undoubtedly , very fit, that all necessary Doctrines, upon which the eternal Happiness or Misery of Mankind depends , should be treated of in all kinds of Ways and Methods ; and they cannot be. too often discours'd of, nor by too many Men, that no Objection may remain unanfwer'd, nor Scruple unobserved. Though a little may be sufficient, upon a plain Matter, to wise Men; yet too much cannot be laid upon a Subject, wherein all Men are concern'd: And it is the great Assurance of the Truth of Religion, and
Charity Charity to the Souls of Men, that has engag'd so many Authors in thisGause.
Besides the Primitive Fathers and Apologists, Men of the greatest Learning and Abilities, in latter Ages, have undertaken this Subject, having made it their Study and Business to consider the Grounds of our Holy Religion. And I think fe" w will pretend to more Judgment to discover Truth, or.to more Integrity to declare it , than divers Authors 5, who have had no particular Interest or Profession in reference to Religion, but were under only the common Obligations of all Christians which if they had valued as little as_some others,' they could with' as much Wit and Learning have appear'd in the Cause of Irreligion, as any that ever undertook it. Many of the most eminent in all Professions arid Callings have been the most fcealous Assertors of Religion 3 as I might (hew by particular Examples which are in every Mans Memory.' Indeed, I believe, few Men have so vain an Opinion ofUhemfelves, as to think they understand their several Studies and Professions better than many Persons who have given undoubted Evidence of their unfeigned Belief of the Christian Religion. Men of the greatest Sagacity and Judgment have not been moved with such Objections as others so much stumble at 3 but have liv'd and died the Glory of their Age, and an Honour to their Religion 5 such were the Learned Prince of Mirandula, and that Learned French Nobleman Mor
tueus $ such were Grotivs , Sir Matthew Hale, Dr. Willis 5- and many besides, both of our own and other, Nations. ,1- shall-mention but one mpre, who indeed was so eminent, that I scarce need mention him, for he must be already in every. Reader's Thoughts; I mean, the Honourable Mr. Boyle, who was as inquisitive, and as unwilling to be imposed upon, and Jciiew as much of Nature, perhaps,' as ever any Man , not inspired, did 5 and had withal as stedfast a Belief, and as aweful Apprehensions of Reveal'd - Religion 5 which he endeavour'd to establish kand propagate, not, only by; his own Writings, but by the Labours of others^' which he engaged and rewarded by his Last Will and Testament.
2. But Men do not always live anfwerably to what they profess to believe., It were heartily to be wish'd, that there had never been any occasion given for .this Objection: For though it be very inconsiderable in it self, yet it does, I believe, the most Mischief of any5 because Men naturally govern themselves more by the Example than by the Judgment of others, or even than by their own. Reason. But if we will judge aright, the, Example of one Man , who lives according to the Doctrines of Religion , ought to be of more Weight with us^ than the Example of never so many, who live contrary to their Profession. Because, when Men profess one thing, and act another, their Actions are surely as little to be regarded as
their Profession; And if we will not believe their Profession against their Actions, why should we regard their Example against their avow'd Principles and Profession? It is in all other cafes esteenVd a good Argument for the Truth of any thing, when Men confess it against themselves. And the Motives and Temptations are Risible, by which they are led aside from their 6wn declared Faith and Judgment 5 this Pleasure, or that Profit, is the Cause of it, which every Man can point to. But when he, who lives conformably to his Principles, denies himself, when he loses and suffers by it, he must needs be in great earnest 5 whereas the others are apparently brib'd, to forsake that in Practice, which, notwithstanding, they cannot but own in the Theory and Principles.
This was an old Prejudice against Philosophy , That the Philosophers did not observe their own Precepts. But it was rejected by wife Men, as no Argument against the Truth and Usefulness of Philosophy. It is a great Objection against the Men, but sure it can be no Argument against the Things themselves, that they are disregarded by those who understand their Worth, and pretend to have a due Value and Esteem for them. And whoever renounces the Faith, or takes up Principles of Irreligion, because of any ill Practices of others, too plainly declares either that in Truth and Sincerity he never had any, or that he is very willing to part with his Religion, All Men make some Pretence to
Reason 3 and those Men most of all, who are so apt to decry Religion upon this account, That many who profess to believe it, do noc always live up to its Rules and Instructions; But they do not consider, in the mean time ■; That Men generally act as much against Reason as against Religion3 and that therefore this Objection, if it can signifie any thing, must banish all Reason and good Sense out of the World. If there be no True Religion, because so few practise it as they ought 5 there can be no True Reason neither, because the Liv«s of so many Men contradict it. And some, perhaps, would be contented, that there should be no True Religion, rather than that there should be no True Reason 3 because then they must be no longer allow'd to be able to reason against Religion.
But if the Truth and Reality of things depend upon the Practice of Men, then the fame Religion may be true and false at the same time 3 it may be true in one Age, and false in another 5 or true in one Country, and false in the next 3 and must be more or less true or false, in the same proportion, as the Lives and Manners of its Professors are more or less vertuous or vicious. Indeed this is so unreasonable and unjust a Prejudice against Religion, though it be grown a very common one, that methinks every Man should be asham'd of it 3 especially Men of Reason, who scorn so much, in a|l cither cases, to depend upon the Practice