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CHAP. phy, and consequently unconcern'd as to ProXIX, vidence ; the Objection therefore from the Be
ginning is plainly a wrested Occasion for asperling Christianity; because all the Lines being strait and simply drawn from that true Center of Divinity, God in Christ reconciling the World to bimself, make the most comprehensive establish'd Circumference of Reason and Probity, true Religion and Divine Worship, godly, sober, and righteous Living. I shall return them a PROPER Answer, by and by, after I have first begg'd leave of the Reader to premise some general Considerations upon this Subject. The Objection in its full Strength, is as follows.
“ If we suppose any arbitrary Commands in “ the Gospel, we place Christians in a worse “ Condition than those under no Law but that “ of Nature, which requires nothing but what “ is moral ; and consequently the greatest Part “ of Mankind, who are to be judg'd by the “ Law they know, and not by the Law they do
other, forming his Taste like a Gentleman and Scholar, by the Rule of the best Critick,
Verum ubi plura nitent
ego paucis Offendar maculis, qkas aut incuriu
fudit, Aut Humana parum cavet Natura.
The Publick is the more engaged to his ingenuous ACknowledgments, because he seems to place all the real Charms and Beauty of good Writing in Divinity, in the Difplay of Truth, in a plain Dress; the enduring Solidity of it in the Appearance of the Nature of Things in concert with Revelation, without any Art, or Pious Fraud; and the Use of it in the Importance of the Subject : And, that being what is, or can be, the only true Religion, is the very greatest Concern in this World.
“ not know, are, on this Supposition, in a bet- CHAP. ter Condition as to the next World than
XIX. “ Christians ; because they do not bazard the “ Favour of God by any Mistakes, or omissions 66 in such matters.
To suppose some Men, who “ tho’ they exactly obey the Law of Nature,
may yet be punish'd, even eternally, for not “ obeying another Law besides ; would be to “ make God deal infinitely less mercifully with “ them, than with those who have no other “ Law : And yet in this miserable Cafe are all “ Christians involv'd, if the Gospel requires such
Things as the Law of Nature does not ; and “ that too under the severest Penalties>They “ who think Original and Traditional Religion “ don't differ, are free (no small Happiness) “ from all panick Fears'; while they, who be“ lieve there are things merely positive in Reli“ gion, of which Reason affords no Light how “ they are to be performd, or even what they are,
must lie under endless Doubts and Fears," * “ Muft it not be suppos’d, that either God, « in creating Mankind, did not design their fu“ ture Happiness ; or else that tho' he design'd “ it, he prescrib'd them such Means, or gave " them such Rules, as either were not sufficient
at first, or in Process of Time because in« sufficient for that End? but that after Men “ had been for many Ages in this miserable “ Condition, God thought fit to mend the eter“ nal universal Law of Nature, by adding cer« cain Observances to it, not founded in the Rea.
son of Things ; and that those, out of his par: “ cial Goodness, he communicated only to fome, “ leaving the greatest Part in their former dark
• Cbrifian, as old, p. 109, 110,
CH A P.". and deplorable State, How is it consistent
« with the Notion of God's being universally " benevolent, not to have reveal'd it to all his “ Children, when all had equal need of it? Was
ic not as easy for him to have communicated it to all Nations, as to any one Nation, or
Person ?*". God requir'd Impoffibilities s from them, viz. either to preserve themfelves ' from thus falling, or if fallen to recover schemselves. But if they had not Power to 65. do this, and it was not cheir Fault, that they
at first were in, and after remain'd in a State " of universal Degeneracy and Corruption, this "mult then be the State God design'd they
should be in: And it would seem not only to be in vain, but a Crime in them to endeavour
to change that State in which God, of his infinite Wisdom and Goodness, thought fit to
place them." To It God always acts for the Good of his Creatures, what Řeason can
be assign'd, why he should not, from the Bea ginning, have discover'd such things as-make
for their Good; but defer the doing of it till
the Time of Tiberius? Since the fooner this I was done, the greater would his Goodness ap" pear to be. If God acts upon rational Moatives, must not the same Motives which
ablig'd him to discover any thing for the Good of Mankind, have oblig'd him to dif
cover every thing that is for and not grudg! ingly bere, a Bit: and there a Bit - and ar "last, tho? he discover'd some things more
plainly, yet iç was to a small Part of Man"kind, the Bulk of them to this Day remaining in deplorable Ignorance."#
" Would not
* Page 173
+ Page 3 40.
66 the Necessities of Mankind and the Goodness CHAP. “ of God oblige him to have prefcribed an im
XIX “ mediale Remedy to the Disease, and not de« ferr'd it for four thousand Years together?” * “ Is not this Notion repugnant to the natural “ Idea we have of the Divine Goodnefs? As
likewise those express Texts of Scripture; « which declare God is no Respecter of Persons ; " that every one, of what Nation foever, mall.be “ rewarded according to his Works, and that Men
are accepted according to what they have, and “ not according to what they have not." t If God “ never intended Mankind should at any time be “ without Religion, or have false Religions, and " there be but one true Religion, which all have « been ever bound to believe and profess, the “ Means to effect this End of infinite Wisdom, " must be as universal and extensive as the End “ itself.”
This is the objection in its full Length, and with its utmost Force : It supposes several things in Contradiction to Truth, and Matter of Fact. As
1. It supposes “arbitrary Commands in the Christian Religion, which I have confuted at large before ; and chat the Receivers of its peculiar Institutions run greater bazard of the Favour of God, than the Rejecters of them ; that these last are free from panick Fear, whilft the other lie under endlefs Doubts and Fears.
2. That God did not prescribe sufficient Means for Mens Happiness at first, from the
+ Page 371.
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CHAP. Beginning, or an immediate Remedy to the XIX. Disease ; but deferr'd it for 4000 Years till the
Time of Tiberius, and then communicated it only to a small Part of Mankind; and that it would be a Crime in those, to whom the Means and Remedy of Happiness was not explicitly reveal'd, to endeavour to help themselves in their dark and deplorable State: It fupposes further, that the Means and Remedy is not founded in the Reason of Things ; the contrary of which last Position I have made appear throughout the preceding Treatise.
3. That this partial Proceeding of Provi. dence is contrary to the Notion and Idea we have of the Divine Goodness; and to that Character, of being no respecter of Persons. And that, as there is but one true Religion, the Means ought to be as general as the End, and as explicitly known to one Nation as to another.
BEFORE I reply particularly, I would observe in general. 1. Supposing this World made (no uncommon Opinion) to supply the Place of fallen Angels, one World arising out of the Ruins of another; God may chufe so many Elect out of our World (and when a Person is elected it seems to be to some Vacancy) in what part he pleases. Supposing further, what seems highly probable, that those Angels were graduated and differenc'd by different Endowments, some having one Talent, more two, but most of them five committed to them ; the Scripture actually diftinguishes them into Principalities, Powers, Kulers of the Darkness of this World, and [piritual Wickedness in high Places, all fighting in their Courses, and contending against Meň, espe