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and so do other philosophers; and sometime expressly they signify their opinion to be, that there is hut one. Cic. i. <ie There are many popular gods, but one natural, AntistheN-D- nes said in Tully: tic Se »v iBoXvwwpi; ey-i, faith the author Mundo, De Mundo. Being one in reality, he hath many names, cap. 7. according to the several affections he discovers, arid the Sen.deBe-operations he exerts: whom Seneca thus consents to; Vid La7 Quoties Males tibi licet altter hunc auclorem rerum nojlraunt. rum compellare: tot appellationes ejus effe poffunt, quot

dis diaum wunera > hunc et liberum Pattern, et Heradem ac ASercuapud Grot, rium nojlri putant; Jic hanc naturam voca, fatum, forlu~ 149. i,T^tnam > omnia ejusdem Dei nominajunt varie utentissua po«*»»»''«'««, tejlate.

&c. Notab. But divine revelation doth most fully declare this truth: Marfil. Fie. I need not mention places; the whole Scripture dotli Leg. Sed ne chiefly teach and inculcate it; That there is but one turbet quæ- maker and one governor of the world; to whom all venenumenis, ration and obedience is due: and to whom be all honour,

turbw"u" and glorand wormip for ever ascribed and paid, &c. merusan- Amen.

NihiiTenim '* was anciently objected by Celsus, and other adverplus apud faries of our religion, tliat Christianity did exact of men a tot possum blind, groundless belief*; that it condemned human wisa'ud'nos11 °-om, banislied understanding, and prohibited all inquiry; totangeli, commanding men to swallow its dictates without any wi?UC C previous examination or debate concerning the truth of • vixin ««i them; imposing mume uvamfaixTovc, laws uncapable of Orig. i. proof, and inculcating this rule, fuj ffrrage, aXXa /xovovw*rtoe: Do not examine, but only believe.

The ground of this accusation seems to be a great mistake, proceeding from the not distinguishing that belief, whereby we embrace Christianity itself in general and in gross; and the belief, whereby we assent to the particular doctrines thereof, (especially such as concern matters supernatural, and above the reach of our understanding to find out or comprehend.)

As for the first, ihat faith, whereby we embrace Christianity in the gross, I fay, that Christianity doth not propound itself as immediately evident, nor requires a precipitate assent to it; but offers blind reason for itself, and invites men to inquire, consider, and judge about its truth t never any religion was so little liable to this censure? none ever so freely exposed itself to a fair trial at the bar of reason: it desires of men an e6yva>p.uiv ej-fsVao-ij, a candid and discreet examination for its fake and their own: other religions have for their justification insisted upon the example of ancestors, and custom of times; their large extent and prevalence among many people; their establishment by civil laws, and the countenance of secular power; (arguments extrinsic to the matter, and very weak in themselves,) declining all other test or trial of reason: and it is remarkable, how Celsus and those (who made the foresaid objection) did therein contradict themselves, when they orig. v. p. affirm men ought, without scruple, to conform to the re- a48' *c" ligion prescribed by the laws of their country, be they what they will, never so absurd or dishonest: this is indeed an exacting of irrational belief; a stifling of our understandings and muzzling our judgment; a requiring of men to yield their consent to innumerable most palpable falsehoods and inconsistencies. The teachers and defenders of Christianity proceeded otherwise: confiding in the truth and reasonableness of their cause, they excited men to lay aside all unreasonable prejudices; to use their best understandings; to apply themselves to an industrious and impartial search of the truth: hear Lactantius speaking for Lib. ii. c. 7. the rest; Oportet in ea re maxime, in qua vitœ ratio versatur,Jibi quemque confidere, suoque judicio ac propriis senfilus niti ad inve/ligandam, et perpendendam veritatem, quam credentem alienis erroribus dectpi lanquam ipj'um rationis expertem: dedit omnibus Deus pro vhili portione sapientiam, ut et inaudita invejligare pojsent, et audita perpendere: that is; We ought especially, every one of us, in that matter, which chiefly concerns our life, to confide in ourselves; and rather with our own judgment and our proper fenses strive to find out and weigh the truth, than, believing other men's errors, to be deceived as men void of reason: God hath given all men their share of wisdom, that they might both inquire into what they hear,

and weigh it. So he disputing against the heathen credulity.

Thus doth Christianity call upon men to inquire into r itself; yea it obliges them thereto : it propounds faith as a virtue highly commendable, (supposing it therefore voluntary and managed with reason;) for all virtue is 'i^t; irpoatpertxrj psT akij^S; Koyouf it is Ixsvioj <ruyxara3e<nc, a voluntary assent, promising ample rewards thereto; and infidelity it propounds as a vice very blameable, (and consequently very irrational,) threatening very severe punishments thereto: it doth not inveigle men by sleight, nor compel them by force; but fairly persuades them to embrace it: it doth not therefore avoid examination, nor disclaim the use of good reason; but seeks and procures the one, cheerfully and confidently appeals to the other.

Indeed after it hath convinced men of its truth in general, having evidenced the truth and certainty of its fundamental principles, it then requires a full and cordial consent (without exception) to all its particular doctrines grounded upon them: when, I fay, it hath propounded . sufficient reason to satisfy men's minds, that is grounded upon most solid principles, it then requires men to surcease farther doubt or scruple concerning what it teaches: which is a most reasonable proceeding, and conformable to the method used in the strictest sciences: for the principles of any science being either demonstrated out of some higher science, or evidenced by fit examples and experiments to common fense, and being thence admitted, it is afterward unlawful and absurd to refuse the conclusions deduced from them: so it having been proved that our principles are true; (viz. that God is perfectly veracious; and that Christian religion did proceed from him, and is built upon his attestation;) it is a part of absurd levity and self-contradiction then to question any particular proposition evidently contained therein: and in this fense it is true, (and thus I take those Christians to be understood • Vid. Orig. * who commend immediate faith, and exclude reason from pag. 9. being too busy in matters of religion, and discountenance curious inquiry;) thus, I fay, it is true, that Christianity

engages us to believe, without reason or dispute. It will allow (yea it invites and exhorts) an infidel to consider and judge of its truth; but it will not allow a Christian to be so vain and inconstant, as to question any particular of its doctrine: by doing so he renounces his faith, at least ceases to be a steady Christian *

Now the first principle of Christianity (common thereto and all other religions) is, that there is one God: the next, (which also no religion doth not acknowledge,) that God is perfectly veracious; or, that whatever appears to be asserted or attested to by God is certainly true: which two principles we have already proved by reasons proper and sufficient, we conceive, to satisfy any well-disposed mind- A third principle is, that God is the author of the Christian doctrine in general; that it hath been revealed and imposed upon mankind by divine authority. And a fourth is, that those authorities and traditions upon which we ground, and by which we prove, (mediately or immediately,) the particular doctrines of Christianity to be truly such, (that is, admitting the former principle to have come from God,) are proper and sufficient to that purpose. These two latter principles involving matter of fact, and consequently being not evident in themselves, do (for a full conviction of a man's mind, and producing therein a solid persuasion) require a rational probation; and that it may appear we believe like reasonable men, not upon wilful resolution, or by mere chance, (as Pagans and Mahometans, and other ignorant opinionists do,) as also to confirm the grounds upon which the subsequent articles or doctrines of faith are built, I fliall endeavour briefly to {hew the reasonableness of them; beginning with the first, and advancing my discourse by several steps or degrees. And I observe, that,

1. It is reasonable to suppose, that God should sometime reveal unto men the truth concerning himself, and concerning them, as they stand related toward him; (his nature and will; our state and duty;) his prime attributes persuade thus much. It is most evident to common experience, that mankind, being left to itself, (in matters of

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tl»i;i nnlure especially,) is very insufficient to direct itself; it is apt to lie under a woful ignorance; to be possessed with vain conceit; to wander in doubt, and fall into errort it is subject to all kind of delusion, which either the malice of wicked spirits, or the subtilty of naughty men, or the wildness of its own unruly passions and desires, can bring it under; and consequently it is liable to incur all those fins, (diihonourable, hurtful, and destructive to its nature,) and all those miseries, which from ignorance, error, and sin, do naturally spring; (an estrangement especially from God, and his grievous displeasure:) we see that not only the generality of mankind did sometime lie in this fad condition, but that even the most elevated and refined wits, those among men, who by all possible improvement of their reason did endeavour to raise and rescue themselves from the common ignorance, mistakes, superstitions, and follies of the world, could by no means, in any good measure, attain their end: what did their diligent studies and inquiries produce, but dissatisfaction and perplexity of mindr wherein did their eager disputations conclude, but in irreconcileable differences of opinion, and greater uncertainty, than at first? most were plunged into a desperate scepticism; (a doubt and diffidence of all things;) none arrived higher, than some faint conjectures, or some unsteady opinions, concerning those matters of highest

Rom. i. 01.consequence: ijtfcxradsiSijo-av ev Toi; 8»aXoyio7«,o7s: they were, 'as St. Paul observed, made vain (were frustrated and befooled) in their reasonings:-, and their foolish heart was

1 Cor. i.si.darkened, &c. The world by wisdom did not know God: could not attain to a requisite measure of knowledge in divine things. This being the natural state of men, destitute of divine help and direction, doth it not, I pray, greatly need another light to guide it in this darkness, a helpful hand to relieve it from these inconveniences? Can then that infinite goodness hear mankind groan under so lamentable oppressions, and not pity, it? Can he behold his own dear offspring, the flower of his creation, lying in so comfortless, so remediless a distress, without affording some relief? Can such a spectacle deb'ght that gracious

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