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I C O R. xV. 14.
SERM ON L
The miraculous Birth of Christ.
Matt. i. 22, 23.
T is a very usual Method with Serm.
"Unbelievers; And yet here, l
before I proceed, it may be proper and necesl'ary to premise, that by Unbelievers I Would at This Time be understood to Vol. V. B mean
Serm.mean, not, men of such a disposition as *. St Thomas was before his Conversion; ra
V*^ tional and inquisitive persons, Lovers of Truth and Virtue, men desirous to know and to obey the Will of God, and careful to keep a Conscience void of Offence both towards God and towards Men; yet, at the fame time, sensible of the Difficulties wherewith the Divine Providence has thought fit to permit even very important Truths to be sometimes attended; and careful, for That Reason, not to be imposed upon, nor to receive things without good Evidence, either of Reason, or of Revelation: These, I say, are not the Unbelievers I would at present be understood to have in View. For concerning such persons as these, our Saviour seems to speak, when he says, they are not far
Mark xii. from the Kingdom of God. But there is
»*, another fort of Unbelievers, who, having
no right fense of the Liberty of Human Actions, of the natural, and essential Difference of Good and Evil, of the Moral Government of God over the World, of a Judgment to come, and of a Future State of Rewards and Punishments; do therefore sore seek all possible opportunities, not of S E R U.
enquiring into, and impartially examining,
but of cavilling against the Authority of Christ and the Truth of his Religion, as being the great'Support and Confirmation of these Doctrines of Nature, with the Belief of which all Notions of Fatality or Necessity, and all Licentiousness either of Sceptical Opinions or of Vicious Practice, is altogether inconsistent.
Now of This sort of Unbelievers, I say, the usual Method is to attack some particular uncertain Doctrines in the Systems of disagreeing Sects of Christians, and then conclude that they have destroyed Christianity itself: Or they set themselves to expose particular Weak Writers; and then leave it to be supposed, that All Defenders of the Doctrine of Christ are Fools: Or they pick perhaps out of Better Writers some inconclusive Reasonings, and weak Arguments j trusting it will thence be inferred, that there is no Strength in the Strongest: Of they represent Christianity as relying upon some Foundation, upon which it does not rely j and then conclude that it has no Foundation at all:
Vol. V, B 2 Or