페이지 이미지

probably have founded that Seat, if it had not been known in the World before. The Philofophers had no Authority to promife Rewards, or to threaten Punishments upon the Obfervation or Neglect of their Precepts, and therefore every Man was at his Liberty to choose or to reject what they taught; and divers of them were fenfible of this unavoidable Defect in all humane Doctrines, and therefore pretended to Revelation.


There is no Inconvenience therefore in fuppofing, that many of the Precepts contain'd in the Proverbs, and other Books of Scripture, might be known without a Revelation: for there is notwithstanding, very good Reason, why they should be inferted into the Scripture: Because the Scriptures have the Authority of a Divine Law, and are to be look'd upon, not as a Syftem of Ethicks, or a Collection of Moral Precepts, but as a Body of Laws given out upon divers occafions, and as Rules of Inftruction, which at the fame time both fhew us our Duty, and command our Obedience. It is not expected that Kings in their Laws fhould argue more profoundly than other Men do, but they fhould command more effectually than others can teach; they do not difpute, but pronounce and dictate, what their Subjects muft take notice of at their peril. It is no Diminution to a Prince's Authority to command the moft known and obvious things, though it may be a Fault in the Subject to need fuch Commands. And God in his Word did not defign to furnish us with a Treatife of Philofophy, to gratify our Curiofity with strange and new Notions, and make us profound Scholars; but to speak to the Neceffities of Men, and put them in mind of known Duties, to appeal to their own Confciences, and to enforce those Notions of Good and Evil, which natura: Reason perhaps might fuggeft to them, by the Authority of a Reveal'd Religion, and a Divine Law, cftablih'd upon Rewards and Punishments.

3. Though


3. Though the Philofophers were able to difcern fomething more than other Men, yet they durft not openly declare what they knew, but were over-born with the Errors and Vices of the Times and Countries in which they liv'd, even to the Commiffion of Idolatry, and the worft of Vices; and therefore their Doctrines, whatever they were, could do but little Good towards the Reformation of the World. I fhall not enquire into the Reports concerning Socrates and Plato, Seneca and Cato himself, but only obfervé, that Socrates, who was the only Martyr among the Philofophers for the Truth, yet when he comes to die, fpeaks with no Affurance of a future State, and order'd a Cock to be facrific'd to Efculapius, which can hardly be reconciled to that Doctrine, for which he is fuppofed to die. And after his Death, how did his Friends and Difciples behave themselves? Did they openly and courageoufly vindicate his Innocence, and teach the Doctrine for which he fuffer'd? Did they not use all means to conceal and diffemble it? 1 Did not Xenophon dedicate a Temple to Diana Ephefia? Did not he and Plato envy and oppofe each other? But Mankind flood in need of a perfect Example of Virtue, and of fuch Inftructors, as fhould both oth teach and practife the Doctrines of it at their utmoft peril, and of a Succeffion of fuch Men, as fhould bear Teftimony to their Doctrine, both by the Miracles wrought during their Lives, and by the Conftancy of their Deaths.


[ocr errors]

4. As the Heathen Philofophy wanted the Authority of a Law, and the Example of thofe who taught it; fo it wanted the principal Motives to recommend the Fractice of it to the Lives of Men. The Philofophers teach nothing of the exceeding Love of God towards us; of his Defire of our Happiness, and his

1 Paufan. Eliac. 1.

m Athenæ. Deipn. 1. xx. c. 15.
Cc 2


Readiness to affift and conduct us in the ways of Virtue. They own'd no fuch thing as Divine Grace and Affiftance towards the Attainment of Vertue, and the Perfeverance in it." Virtutem autem nemo unquam acceptam Deo retulit, nimirum rectè propter virtutem enim jure laudamur, & in virtute rectè gloriamur,quod non contingeret, fi id donum à Deo, non à nobis haberemus nam quis, quòd bonus vir effet, gratias Diis egit unquam -Fovemque optimum maximum ob eas res appellant, non quod nos juftos, temperatos, fapientes efficiat, fed quòd falvos, incolumes, opulentos, copiofos. This occafion'd thofe infolent Boafts of the Stoicks, equalling themfelves to the Gods, and fometimes even preferring themselves before them, because they had Difficulties to encounter, which made their Conquefts of Vice, and their Improvements in Virtue, more glorious, than they fuppofed the like Excellencies to be in their Gods, who were good by the Neceffity of their own Nature. Yet thefe P very Stoicks could at other times borrow from the Scriptures, this Doctrine of Divine Grace and Affiftance, as well as other Doctrines, the better to recommend their Philofophy, after the Propagation of the Gofpel, tho' 9 in plain Contradiction to themfelves.

Wherefore, tho' the Rules of Philofophy had been never fo perfect, yet they muft needs be ineffectual, being fo difficult to find out, and fo unactive and dead, when they were difcover'd, without that Au

n Tull. de Nat. Deor. 1. iii.



Plut. adv. Stoicos. Chryfipp. apud Plut, de Stoic. Repug. P Bonus vir fine Deo nemo eft. An poteft aliquis fupra fortunam nifi ab illo adjutus exurgere? ille dat confilia magnifica e erecta, Sen. Epift. 41.

a Eft aliquid, quo fapiens antecedat Deum: illa Natura beneficio, non fuo fapiens eft, Id. Epift. 53. Quid votis opus eft? fac te ipfe felicem, Epift. 31. par Deo furges, ib. Deus non vincit fapientem felicitate, etiamfi vincit atate, Epift. 73. Sed fi cui virtus animufque in corpore prafens, hic Deos aquat. Epift. 92.


thority, and Life, and Energy, that may be had from Divine Revelation, for which there was a Neceffity, not only to fupply the Imperfections, and correct the Errors of Philofophy, but to enforce the Doctrines of it, tho' they had been never fo true and perfect.

[ocr errors]


The Novelty and Defect in the Promulgation of the Mahometan Religion.



HE Novelty of the Mahometan Religion, in refpe& both of the Old and New Teftament, is paft all Difpute. And this Religion, notwithstanding all its fenfual Allurement, owes its Propagation folely to the Power of the Sword. For though the Alcoran has been tranflated into most of the Languages in ufe amongft Chriftians, yet it has never been known to make any Profelytes, but by force of Arms, and the Succefs of thofe Victories, which have tempted profligate and defperate Men to feek for Shelter under them. At first, this Religion had many Circumftances for its Advantage, which might, in humane probability, gain its Succefs in the World. It was begun in Rebellion, and in a final Revolt from the Emperor Heraclius, and befides this popular and feducing Temptation of Licence and Violence, Mabomet added the Enticements of Luft and Senfuality; he forbad Men indeed fome things, but fuch as he could ea fily fee they would part with in thofe Climates for the free and unbounded Enjoyment of others: he pretended likewife to found his Doctrine on the Autho rity of Mofes and of Chrift, faying, that Chrift had promised to fend him; all which, made his Religion find the more eafie entertainment amongst both Jews CC 3


and Chriftians. The corrupt Lives, and the many Schifms and Herefies of the Chriftians of that Age, in those Parts of the World, gave great opportunity to the Rife and Progrefs of it. 'Twas but like the Herefy of the Gnofticks at the first, and not altogether fo grofs; and this must needs encline all of feditious and lewd Principles to come in to him, being glad of fuch a colour for their Wickedness; and it had the advantage of Power and Force to make it more lasting than other fuch Blafphemies have been.

Chrift, on the contrary, forbad Refiftance of the fupreme Power, upon any terms whatfoever; he afferted the Authority of Mofes, but fo, as to abolish the ceremonial part of the Law, which was what the Jews were moft fond of fo that this very thing made the Jews the moft implacable Enemies of Chriftianity, and brought Chriftians into contempt among the Heathen; for nothing could make the Gofpel of lefs account in their efteem, than to deduce its Authority from the Books of the Jews, who, foon after the crucifixion of Chrift, became vile and contemptible in the eyes of all the World. It can be no great wonder, to fee Men drawn into thofe Vices, under the pretence of Religion, from which no Laws nor Punifhments can reftrain them; but for a Religion that forbids all Vice, under the feverest Penalties, to prevail in a vicious World, is truly miraculous. Befides, it is Death, by the Law of Mahomet, to contradict the Alcoran Men are forbid all Difputation and Difcourte about Religion, they are charged to believe none but Mahometans, and to look upon all others as unworthy of all manner of Converfation. So that the


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Sword in the hands of furious and ignorant Zealots, is the only way by which that Religion was defigned to be propagated. which that R

But notwithstanding all thefe compliances with the Lufts and Paffions of Men, if we take in all Ages fince the Incarnation of Chrift, the Chriftian Religion (not


« 이전계속 »