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them to their own choice, whether they will be Righteous and Happy, or Wicked and Miferable; and then that he should not take the firft opportunity to punifh them, nor lay hold of any advantage against them, but give them time for fecond Thoughts, and fpace for Confideration and Repentance: but if they abufe fo much Patience and Loving-kindness, that he fhould at laft come upon them, when they leaft think of him, with a mighty and terrible Judgment, and with a fudden and unexpected Fury. But to ftand by and look on unconcern'd, and then to take Men upon fuch a furprife, without giving them any notice of it before-hand, is a thing impoffible to be accounted for, and can never be reconciled with the Divine Attributes. St. Athanafius infifts at large upon this Argument, and carries it fo far as to prove the Neceffity of the Incarnation of the Son of God from it: He urges, That it would have been unworthy of the Goodness of God to fuffer all Mankind to be deftroyed by the Fraud and Malice of the Devil, or by their own Fault and Negligence; and that it had been more confiftent with his Wisdom and Goodness, never to have created Men, than to have fuffered them thus to perifh!" An "Earthly King (fays he) when he has planted a Co"lony, will not carelefly fuffer his Subjects to become
Slaves to a Stranger, or to revolt from him; but he will, by his Proclamations, admonifh them of their "Duty and often-times will fend Meffages to them by "his Friends; and if there be a neceffity for it, will "to them himself, to awe them by his Prefence, and "recall them to their Obedience. And (as he there adds) "fhall not God much rather be fo mindful of his Creatures, as to use some Means to reclaim them "from their evil Ways, and regain them to his Ser"vice; efpecially when they must be utterly undone " for ever, unless he take care of them?
S. Athan. de Incarnatione Verbi Dei.
f St. Cyril
f St. Cyril of Alexandria fpeaks to the fame purpose. "It was neceffary, (fays he) it was neceffary,
that the good God fhould fave thofe, who were loft, " and defeat the Malice of the Devil. And afterwards, "What then should the Creator of the Uni"verfe do? Should he leave all Men under the Power "of impure Dæmons? and fuffer the Devil's Malice "to disappoint his own Defigns? Should he not "ftretch forth his faving Hand to those who were << down? Should he not reclaim thofe who were en"fnared in the groffeft Wickedness? Should he not
enlighten the Minds of thofe who were in Dark"nefs? Should he not call back thofe who were gone aftray? How then could he be Good, if "when without the leaft trouble, he could effectually do all this, he had yet had no regard for us? "Why did he at first bring Men into Being and Life, "if he would extend no Mercy towards them in this "miferable State?
It is plain then, that tho' we had never heard of fuch a thing as a Miracle, or a Prophecy, or of Revealed Religion; yet from the confideration of the State of the World, and the great Ignorance and Cor ruption of Human Nature, it would be reasonable to expect that God fhould fome way make known his Will to Mankind; and we cannot reconcile it to his Attributes, nor conceive how it fhould be confiftent with them, for him to be an unconcerned Spectator of fo much Folly and Wickedness, without taking any care to remedy it. God cannot be obliged to force Men to obey his Commandments, and comply with his Will, but rather to leave it at their own choice, whether they will be Happy or Miferable: but it was neceffary to propofe the Terms of Salvation to them,
Contra Julian. 1. 8. c. p. 278, 279. Edit. Lipf. In eandem etiam fententiam Theodotus Ancyræ Epifc. Homil. in Conc, Ephef. habit. C. T. 3. col. 1026.
to offer them their free Choice, to fet before them Life and Death, Bleffings and Curfings, and fo to leave the Obftinate without all Excufe.
And this is all which I am here concerned to prove, That it is reasonable to fuppofe that God would reveal himself to Mankind, and that it is not conceivable how it fhould be confiftent with the Divine Attributes for him not to do it. To own the Being of a God, and yet to deny a Providence, is so great an abfurdity, that none of the Philofophers, but Epicurus, were guilty of it; and this was look'd upon, in him, as amounting to the denial of the Divine Exiftence. And to grant both the Being and the Providence of God, and yet to confine the Divine Care and Providence to the Bodies only, and Outward Condition of Men, and to imagine that the Spiritual and ImmortalPart of Man is difregarded or neglected by him, is no less an abfurdity than wholly to deny his Providence or his Existence; because this is to deny the moft confiderable and ineftimable part of Providence, which concerns our Souls, and our Eternal State; and therefore it is, by confequence, to deny the Attributes of God, and to reprefent him not as he is in himself, but Unwife, Unmerciful, and Unholy. To fay that there is no fuch thing as a Divine Revelation, is no better, in effect, than Atheism: For whoever can be of this opinion, muft believe only the Being of fuch Gods as Epicurus owned, that never concerned themselves with Human Affairs; which was only, in other words, to fay that they were no Gods at all.
It has therefore been the constant Belief and Opinion of all Nations, that their Gods did in fome way or other reveal themselves to Men; and tho' fo great a part of the World have worshipped Falfe Gods, and have been mistaken as to the particular Revelations, which they received for Divine, yet it must proceed either from Antient Tradition, or from the Reafonableness of the thing it self, or from both, that all
the World fhould expect that the Divine Being fhould by fome means communicate himself to Men, and declare his Will to them.
CHA P. II.
The Way and Manner by which Divine Revelations may be fuppofed to be Delivered and Preferved in the World:
Ankind had fo corrupted themselves, that the Will and Laws of God could not be effectuallly made known to them, but by fome extraordinary way of Revelation. God had manifefted himself in the Creation of the World, and by the Prefervation of all things from the Beginning, according to their feveral Natures: For the invifible things of him, from the creation of the world, are clearly feen, being underftood by the things which are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, Rom. i. 20. But Men had corrupted themselves even in the plainest and most fundamental Points of all Religion, and acted against all the Dictates of Natural Reason, in worshipping the vileft Parts of the Creation, rather than God himfelf, and in contempt and defiance of Him, had fet up even four-footed beasts and creeping things instead of Gods. How then could the Power and Authority of God be afferted, but by fome extraordinary way of Revelation; fince the ordinary and conftant Methods of God's revealing and manifefting himself by his Providence, in the Prefervation and Government of the World, had been fo far perverted and abused, as that Men were feduced to the Worship of any thing, or of every thing, rather than of God? Mankind had neither the Will nor Ability to reform themselves, and had by their own fault brought themselves under an utter incapacity of being reformed
reformed but by fome extraordinary Revelation. Natural Reafon might have taught them to be less Wicked, but nothing could make them Righteous but a Revelation; and the grofs Errors and Crimes which the wifest Men had faln into, fhew the neceffity of an extraordinary Revelation from God, to inftruct and inform the World. And the ways of extraordinary Revelation are but these two, either an immediate Revelation of the Divine Will to particular Perfons; or a Power of working Miracles, and of prophefying and foretelling future Events beftowed upon fome, to convince others that they are inspired, or come with a Commiffion from God, to inftruct them in what he has revealed, either by himself, or by the Message of Angels.
1. But it cannot feem requifite that. God fhould immediately infpire, or make an immediate Revelation to every particular Perfon in the World: For either he must so powerfully influence their Minds and Af fections, as to take away their choice and freedom of acting, which would be to offer Violence to Humane Nature; or elfe Men would, for the most part, have gone on in their wicked courfes ftill, and would have denied God in their Lives, though their Understandings were never fo clearly and fully convinced of his Will and Commandments, as well as of his Eternal Power and God-head. For, as St. Paul teftifies, the Heathens themselves were not ignorant of the Being of God; but when they knew God, they glorified him not as God. No Man can be more certain of any Infpiration which he can receive, than he is of the Being of that God from whom he receives it; and therefore he who denies the Being of God, muft by confequence deny the Truth of any fuch Infpiration, unless it have that powerful impulfe upon his Mind, as both to convince him and force him to an Acknowledgment at once of the Being of God, and of the Operation of his Spirit upon his Soul. And it is hard to con