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IN Discoursing of the Reasoncbleness and
Certainty of the Christian Religion, I shall use this Method: I. I shall fhew, That from the Notion of a God, it necessarily
follows, that there must be some Divine Revelation. II. I shall enquire into the Way and Manner by which this Revelation may be suppos’d to be delivered and preferved in the World. III. I fhall shew, That from the Notion of a God, and the Nature and Design of a Divine Revelation, it follows, That the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are that Divine Revelation. IV. That no other Books or Doctrines whatsoever can be of Divine Re.velation. y. I shall from hence give a Resolution of our Faith, by thewing, That we have the same Evidence for the Truth and Divine Authority of the Scriptures, that we have for the Being of God himfelf; because it follows, from the Notion of a God, both that there must of necessity be some Divine Re
velation; velation, and that the Scriptures are that Divine Revelation. VI. Having done this, I shall, in the last place, endeavour to clear such Points as are commonly thought most liable to exception in the Christian Religion ! and shall propose some Considerations, which may serve to remove such Objections, and obviate such Cavils as are usually rais'd against the Holy Scriptures.
C H A P. I. That from the Notion of a God, it necessarily follows that there must be fome Divine Revelation.
N the First place, I shall shew how Reasonable and
necessary it is to suppose, that God should Reveal himself to Mankind: And I shall insist the rather upon this, because it is not usually so much consider'd in this Controversy, as it ought to be; for if it were, it certainly would go very far towards the proving the Divine Authority of the Scriptures; fince if it be once made appear that there must be some Divine Revelation, it will be no hard Matter to prove that the Scriptures are that Revelation : For if it be proved that there must be fome Revealed Religion, there is no other which can bear any competition with that contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. My first Business therefore shall be to fhew, from the Consideration of the Attributes of God, and of the Nature and State of Mankind, that in all reafon we cannot but believe that there is some Revealed Religion in the World.
There is nothing more evident to Natural Reason, than that there must be some Beginning, some First Principle of Being, from whence all other Beings proceed." And nothing can be more absurd, than to ima
gine that That wonderful variety of Beings in the Heavens, and Earth, and Seas, which all the Wisdom of Man is not able in any measure to understand, or. thoroughly to search into, should yet be produced and continued for so many Thousand Years together, without any Wisdom or Contrivance ; that an unaccountable Concourse of Atoms, which could never build the least House or Cottage, should yet build and sustain the wonderful Fabrick of the whole World; that when the very Lines in a Globe or Sphere cannot be made without Art, the World it self, which that is but an imperfect Imitation of, should be made without it; and that less Skill should be required to the forming of a Man, than is neceflary to the making of his Pictnre; that Chance fhould be the cause of all the Order, and Fortune of all the Constancy and Regularity in the Nature of Things; and that the very Faculties of Reafon and Understanding in all Mankind, should have their Original from that, which had no Sense or Knowledge, but was meer Ignorance and Stupidity. This is so far from being Reason and Philosophy, that it is down-right Folly and Contradi&ion.
From a Being therefore of Infinite Perfection must proceed all things that are besides, with all their Perfections and Excellencies, and among others, the Virtues and Excellencies of Wisdom, Justice, Mercy and Truth, must be derived from him, as the Author of all the Perfections of which the Creatures are capable. And it is absurd to imagine that the Creator and Governor of the World, who is infinitely more Juft, more Wise, and Good, and Holy than any Creature can be, will not at last reward the Good, and punish the Wicked. For, Shall not the Judge of all the Earth do right? Is it to be supposed, that the Wise and Good God would create Men only to abuse themselves and one another ? to live a-while in Sin and Folly here, and some of them in the most extravagant and brutal Wickedness, and then go down to the Grave, and so
there should be an end of them for ever? What is there worthy of the infinite Wisdom of God, in so poor a Design as this ! Doth not the Voice of Nature it self teach us, and has it not been the general Belief and Expectation of all Ages and Nations, that the prosperous Sinner, who is subtle and powerful to do mischief, must suffer in another World, for what he has done amiss here? and, that all is not to pass away with us in Sport and Extravagance, in Laughter and Noise, in Riot, or in Violence and Cruelty, as fome Men are willing to believe ; as if the World were made for the Wicked, and they to abuse it?
It appears likewise from the common Belief and Experience of Mankind, that as there is a God of infinite Goodness and Holiness; so there are wicked and malicious Spirits, which are ever contriving the Mischief and Ruin of Men. For besides the Evidence of this from Scripture, which we must be allowed here to alledge in the nature at least of an History, it is folly to imagine that all the Oracles and Prodigies of che Heathens could be mere Forgeries, and that there was no ground nor foundation for such a Belief, as universally
obtained in all Nations and Ages of the World, and for the Customs and Practices which followed upon this Belief, that there are Demons, or Spirits, of an evil and malicious Disposition and Power. I fhall instance only in the unnatural Cruelties which the Heathen World, even the Greeks and Romans themselves, were cont'nually put upon, by the Instigation of these malicious and wicked Spirits. For the Heathen Nations offered up multitudes of innocent Men and Women, and even their own Children, in Sacrifice to their False Gods; which is as sure an Evidence that there are such Beings, which required these Cruelties from them, as it is, that there are Tyrants and Persecutors, when they cause innocent Men to be murthered, and Children to be torn from the Arms of their Parents, and Nain in their light. And tho’ the Dominion of Satan be now restrained by the overruling Power of the Gospel, we have as great Evidence from all History that there are such Beings as Devils, as we have for any other Matter of Fact wharfoever. There have been indeed many false Stories concerning Spirits, as well as in other Matters of History: But doth this prove that there are none true ? or could the Historians of all Times and Places be
perpetually imposed upon, or conspire to impose upon others? If we may credit Authors of as high esteem as any human History can afford; Men of good Learning and true Courage, and of little inclination to believe things of this nature, have been Witnesses of Apparitions. I instance in a Dion, Brutus, b Curtius Rufus, and Athenodorus the Philosopher. When Dion and Brutus, Men famous for Philosophy, not prone to Fear, but of great Constancy of Mind, became so concerned, that they acquainted others with what they had seen; this, as c Plutarch-remarks, is a mighty Argument for the Truth' of this Doctrine. There is no ancient History but gives fome Instance or other of these things; and all the modern Histories of Heathen Nations are full of such Relations as confirm this Truth to us; and even among Christians, those who have by unlawful Arts put themselves under the Power of wicked Spirits, have been convinced that there are such Beings; which is proved, not only by the publick Confessions of Witches in all Nations, but by the private d Acknowledgments of divers learned Men, both Physicians and others, who have made attempts to discover the Truth of this Matter, in different Places, and were Persons neither timorous nor superstitious. But the Apparition of Spirits is Preternatural ; and therefore, that Good Spirits, who live in perfect Obe
a Plut. in Dion. & Brut. b Plin. Epift. l. 7. ad Suram.
c In Dion. initio. d See Mr. Boyle's Excellency of Theology, &c. $1. und Dr. Casaubon's Preface to Dee of Spirits.