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dience to the Divine Will, and in Conformity to the Order of their Nature, fhould appear, is now no more to be expected than any other Miracle: but there are frequent Apparitions of Bad Spirits in Coun→ tries where the Chriftian Religion is not received; and where it is received, they appear to fuch as are willing to come under their Power, but very rarely to others. And if the Devil, after fo much Human Blood as he has caused to be fpilt in his Sacrifices, and after fo many Oracles and Impostures, can yet perfuade fome Men that there is no fuch Being; this is one of his fubtileft Stratagems of all, and proves how great Power, tho' in a different kind and manner, he ftill retains over the Minds of Men.
Since therefore it is moft certain that there is a Being of Infinite Power, and Wifdom, and Justice, and Goodness; and that there is likewife a malicious cruel Spirit, ever watchful and induftrious to abuse and destroy Mankind: it is highly reasonable to believe, that a Being of fuch Infinite Perfections, after he had created Man, would communicate himself to him, would fet him a Rule by which he ought to live, and prescribe him Laws whereby he might answer the Ends of his Creation, and attain to that Happiness which he was made capable of, and defigned for by his Maker. We cannot fuppofe that the God of all Goodnefs and Wisdom would create Man, and then leave him to himself, to follow his own Inventions, and to live at random, without any Law or Direction to frame his Actions by, and to be expofed to all the Affaults of an implacable fubtle Enemy, without any Caution and Inftruction given him, or any Help and Affiftance afforded for his Defence. Man, in his Innocence, was not thus to be left to himself. And we have all the reason in the World to believe, tho' we had not the exprefs Word of Scripture for it, that the God of Infinite Goodness would not difregard this corrupt State of Mankind, but would ufe fome
Means to reclaim them from the Error of their Ways, to bring them to a knowledge of them felves, and of the Divine Majefty, to inform them of their Duty, and direct them to Happiness.
How Man became fo prone to all Evil, we can know only by Revelation; and therefore fince the Notion of the Pre-existence of Souls is groundless, (as I fhall hereafter prove) those who reject all Revelation, muft fuppofe that Man was firft created in this state of Sin and Mifery; which is a very heinous Imputation upon the Goodnefs and Juftice of God: but to fuppofe him placed in this condition, .without all Help or Remedy, is to charge God ftill more foolishly. But how Men became fo, is not here the matter of Enquiry it is evident, that Man is of himself in a miferable and helpless condition; and confidering the great Ignorance and Wickednefs which have been from the Fall of our First Parents visible continually in the World, and ftill reign in it; confidering, I fay, the notorious Wickedness and grofs Ignorance of Men, which, from the earliest Records of Antiquity, have continued down to our own Times, nothing is more reasonable than to think, that a Being of Infinite Perfection would take fome Care to rectify the Mistakes, and reform the Manners of Men. Can we believe it confiftent with Infinite Truth, never to manifeft it self in the World, but to fuffer all forts of Men, of all Nations, to be expofed to all the Designs and Delufions of Impoftors, and of feducing and apoftate Spirits, without any fufficient means afforded them to undeceive and refcue themselves? Can we fuppofe, that God, of Infinite Majefty and Power, and who is a Jealous God, and will not give his Honour to another, fhould fuffer the World to be guilty of Idolatry, to make themfelves Gods of Wood and Stone? nay, to offer their Sons and their Daughters unto Devils, and to commit all manner of Wickedness in the Worfhip of their Falfe Gods; and make Murther, and Adultery, and the worft of Vices, not only their B 4 Practice,
Practice, but their Religion? Can we imagine, that the True God would behold all this, for fo many Ages, among fo many People, and yet not concern. himfef to put a stop to fo much Wickedness, and to vindicate his own Honour, and restore the Sense and Practice of Virtue upon Earth?
I fhall, in due place, prove at large, That Mankind have in all Ages had the greatest neceffity for a Revelation to direct and reform them; and, That the Phi lofophers themselves taught abominably wicked Dotrines, who yet were the beft Teachers and Inftructors of the Heathen World. And we have no true Notion of God, if we do not believe him to be a God of infinite Power, and Knowledge, and Holiness, and Mercy, and Truth; and yet we may as well believe there is no God at all, as imagine that the God of Infinite Knowledge fhould take no notice of what is done here below; that Infinite Power fhould fuffer it felf to be affronted and defpifed, without requiring any Satif faction; that Infinite Holinefs fhould behold the whole World lie in Wickednefs, and find out no way to remedy it; and that Superftition and Idolatry, and all the Tyranny of Sin and Satan, for fo long a time, fhould enflave and torment the Bodies and Souls of Men, and there fhould be no Compaffion in Infinite Mercy, nor any Care over an erroneous and deluded World, in the God of Truth.
Would a wife and good Father fee his Children run on in all manner of Folly and Extravagancy, and take no care to reclaim them, nor give them any Advice, but leave them wholly to themselves, to purfue their own Ruin? And if this be unworthy to fuppofe of Natural Parents, how much more unreasonable is it to imagine this of God himself, whom we cannot but reprefent to our felves, a's beholding our forlorn Eftate with all the Compaffions of the tendereft Father or Mother, without the Weakness and Infirmities that accompany them in Human Parents? How unreasonable is it to enter
tain fuch a Thought of Almighty God, Infinite in Goodness and Mercy, as to fufpect that he would fuffer Mankind to make themselves as miferable as they can, both in this World and the next, without putting any stop to fo fatal a courfe of Sin and Mifery, or interpofing any thing for their Direction, to fhew them the way to efcape Deftruction, and to obtain Happiness! The Fall of our First Parents is known to as only by Revelation, and therefore is not to be taken into confideration, when we argue upon the mere Principles of Reafon. But I confider Mankind, as we find it in Fact (fetting afide the Advantages of Revelation) Wicked, and abandoned to Wickedness, in the fnares of the devil, taken captive by him at his will, unable to work out their own falvation; loft and undone, without Power or Strength, without any Help or Remedy. And in this ftate of the World, however it came to pafs, is there no Reason to believe that Infinite Goodnefs fhould take fome courfe, and not difregard all Mankind lying in this condition?
The great Argument of the Scoffers of the laft Days, St. Peter tells us, would be this, That all things go on in their conftant course, and that God doth not meddle or concern himself with them. Where is the promife of his coming? for fince the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the creation? 2 Pet. iii. 4. And if no Promise had ever been made, they would have had fome Reafon in their Arguing. For that which render'd the Heathen without Excuse, was, That they did not make ufe of the Natural Knowledge that they had of God, to lead them to the Knowledge of his Revealed Will, which they had frequent Opportunities of becoming acquainted withal, and had many Memorials of it amongst them in every Nation: but, they did not like to retain God in their knowledge. And this is the force of St. Paul's Argument, At. xvii. and Rom. i. (unless this latter Chapter were to be understood, as Dr. Hammond interprets it, of the Gnoftick Hereticks)
That the Gentiles ought not to pervert and ftifle those Natural Notions which God had implanted in their Minds, but from the Law of Nature to proceed to find out the Written Law; and for this Reafon, the Bounds of the Habitation of other Nations were determined and appointed by God, according to the num ber of the children of Ifrael, that they might feek the Lord, and might be able to find and difcover the True Religion and Way of Worship among that People to whom he had revealed himfelf, Deut. xxxii. 8. Act. xvii. 26, 27. They might have been lefs vicious than they were, without the Knowledge of a Revelation; and therein they were inexcufable, that tho' they could not free themselves from the Power of Sin, yet they might not have given themselves fo wholly up to it, as to become excluded from the Grace and Salvation to be obtained by the Revealed Will of God. And when God has revealed himfelf, all who will not use the Means, and by a due Improvement of their Reafon endeavour from Natural Religion to arrive at Revealed, become inexcufable for their Negligence and Contempt of God, and the Abuse of thofe Talents and Endowments which God has bestowed upon them. For when God has once given Men warning, and directed them in the way of Salvation, and they will not regard it; they must be wilfully ignorant if they will not confider, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day; and it is an argument of his Patience and Long-fuffering, that he doth not bring fpeedy Vengeance upon a difobedient and rebellious World: The Lord is not flack concerning his promife (as fome men count flackness) but is longfuffering to us-ward, not willing that any fhould perish, but that all fhould come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night. Now this is very well confiftent and exceedingly agreeable with all the Divine Perfections, that he fhould give Men warning of the Evil and Danger of Sin, and afterwards leave them