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see his Physician run into Excess? or, that Poifon will not kill, tho'the Man who tells him so, and advises him against it, be so desperate as to take it himself?
But as absurd as this Objection is in it felf, it is most of all absurd, when it is urged against the Christian Religion ; of which we are assured, that one of the Twelve who first preach'd it, was an Apoftate, and a Traitor : and our Saviour declares, that many who had preach'd and wrought Miracles in his Name, should be at lait rejected by him, Matt. vii. 21. And therefore, for any to make this Cavil against Christianity, is only to shew, that they do not consider it, or will not remember the plainest and most remarkable Points of it.
3. The Causes of Unbelief amongst Christians, notwithstanding the clearest Evidence for their Religion, are too many to be here recounted : But I shall mention some of the chief of them.
1. Vicious Men are very unwilling to believe that Religion to be True, which is so directly contrary to their whole Course of Life, and to all their Inclinations and Defires, but they are very ready to catch at any Cavis and Pretences against it. The Lives of too many Christians have brought a Scandal, though a very unjust one, upon the Religion which they profess: and Men who find themselves more inclined to do as they fee them do, than as they hear them acknowledge they ought to do, make no sufficient Enquiry into the Principles of Religion.
2. Divers Men have had a strange Ambition to say something new upon every Subject they treat of; and in order to that, have set themselves, with all their skill and Power, to contradict and overthrow what has been said by others, that they might make way for their own Opinions; or so to refine upon the Norions of others, that they might appear New, and of their own Invention : which has made inconsiderate Men conclude, that we are always to seek in our Doctrine, and have no fix'd Principles: whereas Men of Learning and Judgment know, that commonly what is with lo much Oftentation proposed and recommended to us for New, has been consider'd and rejected of old, though not, perhaps, in the very terms, yet in the Sense and Substance of it; or else it is some True Doctrine under a different Form and Manner of Expression.
The Improvements which have been made in Philosophy, this last Age, afford a real and great Advantage towards the Proof and Establishment of Religion in Mens Minds; and yet there are few things which have been more abused to the Dishonour of it. For when Men find it convenient to give some Vent to the Philosophical Humour, they bethink themselves of a fit Subject for it to discharge it self upon; and this must be something Great, and fomething that is very New.and Surprising: and there is nothing which answers all these Qualities so well as a New Account of the Origine of the Universe, and then the History of the Creation in
Genesis, as well as the World it self, must undergo all the Alterations which they are pleafed to impose upon it, that it may perfectly fubmit and comply with their New Hypothesis. If this Fancy should hold, New Systems of the World will be as common as New Romances : They must pardon me the Expression; for Des Cartes himself, among his Friends, gave no better Name to his System; which was the first ground and occasion to all the rest. And nothing is more easie with a Philosophical Wit, than to build or destroy a World: but it is to be hoped, when they have wearied themselves with New Contrivances, they will let us have our Old World again. In the mean time, these Men, who have too much Philosophy to have no Religion, put dangerous Weapons into the Hands of those, who have neither the one nor the other, and know not how to use them but to do mischief. And there is nothing so plain, but it may be rendred difficult and obscure to many Men, by long and fubtile Dil
great Numbers of Men should write concerning the Sun's Heat and Light and Motion for many Years, and every one should still contradi& all that went before him, and strive to fay something New and Strange upon the Subject; the last, for ought I know, might pretend to prove, that perhaps there may be no Sun at all: Which, indeed, is no more than what the Scepticks have said. And this Infidelity and Scepticism concerning God, and his Providence, and Revelation, mult end in the Scepticism of
our very Senses, if these Principles be pursued in their direct and unavoidable Consequences.
Others have been too bold with the Mysteries of Religion, and have pretended to explain them so far, as if they would endeavour to present us with a Religion without all Mystery, by which at the same time they have exposed Themselves to Reproach, and Religion to the Scorn of such as are glad to take all occasions to Shew their Good-will to it. The evident and declared Design of the Sacinians, is, to retain no Mysteries, but by forced Interpretations of Scripture to expound them all to their own, that is, to a new and absurd Sense; and it is but too plain, that there is a combined Design carried on between Them and the Deifts, who are contented to pass for Christians, with a Distinction, and without a Mystery: Anti-Trinitarian is a milder Word than Anti-Christian, and Unitarian is but a different Name for Deift.
Another fort have been very laborious in finding out Myfteries, where there are none; and under a pretence of reducing the plainest Doctrines to clear Principles, have only amufed and confounded Men in the true and obvious Notions of them. Thus the Duties of Love to God, and to our Neighbour, are plain in themselves, and are as plainly set down in the Scriptures: And to raise abftracted and meta physical Speculations upon fo plain Texts, is only to tell us what we know before, in other and less intelligible Terms, or elfe to fall into the nice and rafh -Disputes of the School-men, or into the Enthusiastick Heats of the Mystical Divines; which can have no Tendency to the Peace or Edification of the Church, but gives an occasion to the Adversary to blaspheme.
3: A Third Cause of Infidelity, has been the Rashness of some Criticks. For if any thing relating to Religion has been once callid in question, by Men who have got themselves a Name, by writing more boldly than wiser Men have done, the Authority of such Men shall be thought a sufficient Answer to all the Arguments that can be taken from any thing which they are pleas'd to dislike. Criticism, when it falls to the Share of a prudent Man, is, without doubt, a necessary and most valuable part of Learning: But it must be confess’d, that there is hardly any thing more impertinent, than an impertinent Critick. It is a great thing, if it be well consider'd, to set the Bounds, and fix the Territories of Learning, to adjudge to every Author his own Works, and say, that this Book, or perhaps some small part of a Book shall be his, and the rest he shall have nothing to do withal. This is no trivial matter, nor of small Consequence, and ought not to be at the pleasure of any one who has a mind to be taken notice of, for contradicting the receiv'd 0pinion, and being more confident than others. And the less occasion there is for these Criticks, the more Danger there is from them; for if there be no Work for them, they will be apt to make themselves Work: And what Author will be able to stand before Men, whose Business and