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have been able to discover in it, and that is, that it is too good and vertuous for them; for when they have faid all they can, this is their great Quarrel against it; and (as it has been truly obferv'd) no Charity lefs than that of the Religion which they defpife, would have much Care or Confideration for them. :
Thus have fome Men difhonour'd Religion by their Lives; fome by an Affectation of Novelty; fome by invalidating the Authority of Books relating true Miracles and Prophecies, and others by forging falfe ones: fome again, by their too eager and imprudent Difputes and Contentions about Religion, whilft from hence others have taken the Liberty to ridicule it, and to dispute against it, but fo as to expose themfelves, whilft they would expofe Religion. And thus has the clearest and most neceffary Truth been obfcured and defpifed, whilft it has been betray'd by the Vanity and Quarrels of its Friends, to the Scorn and Weakness of its Enemies.
However, in all their Oppofition and Contradiction to Reveal'd Religion, I find it afferted by these Men, that Atheism is fo abfurd a thing, that they queftion whether there ever were, or can be an Atheist in the World. I have therefore here proved, from the Attributes of God, and the Grounds of Natural Religion, that the Chriftian Religion must be of Divine Revelation; and that this Religion is as certainly true, as it is, that God Himself exifts which is the plainest Truth, and the most univerfally
verfally acknowledg'd of any thing whatsoever. And because there is nothing fo true or certain, but fomething may be alledg'd against it, I fhall befides difcourfe upon fuch Heads as have been most excepted againft: In which I fhall endeavour to prove the Truth, in fuch a manner, as to vindicate it againft all Cavils; though I fhall not take notice of particular Objections, which is both a needlefs and indeed an endless Labour, for there is no end of Cavils: but if the Truth be well and fully explain'd, any Objection may receive a fufficient Answer, from the Confideration of the Doctrine against which it is urged, by applying it to particular Difficulties; as one Right Line is enough to demonftrate all the Variations from it to be Crooked.
It is very eafy to cavil and find fault with any thing; and to ftart Objections, and ask Queftions, is even to a Proverb efteem'd the worst Sign that can be of a great Wit, or a found Judgment. Men are unwilling to believe any thing to be true, which contradicts their Vices; and the weakest Arguments, with ftrong Inclinations to a Cause, will prove or difprove what ever they have a mind it fhould. But let Men first practise the Vertues, the Moral Vertues which our Religion enjoins, and then let them difprove it, if they can: nay, let them difprove it now, if they can, for it ftands in no need of their favour; but, for their own fakes, let them have a care of miftaking Vices for Arguments, and every profane Jeft for a Demonftration. Í wish they would confider, whether the Concern
they have, to fet up Natural against Reveal'd Religion, proceed not from hence, that, by Natural Religion, they mean no more than juft what they please themselves, or what they judge convenient in every cafe and occafion: whereas Reveal'd Religion is a fix'd and determin'd thing, and prescribes certain Rules and Laws for the Government of our Lives. The plain Truth of the matter is, that they are for a Religion of their own Contrivance, which they may alter as they fee fit; but not for one of Divine Revelation, which will admit of no Change, but muft always continue the fame, whatever they can do. Unlefs that were the cafe, there would be little occafion to trouble them with Books of this kind; for the Arguments brought against the Chriftian Religion, are indeed fo weak and infignificant, that they rather make for it; and it might well be faid, as M. Pafchat relates, by one of this fort of Men, to his Companions, If you continue to difpute at this rate, you will certainly make me a "Chriftian. I fhall venture, at least, to fay of this Treatife, in the like manner as he does of his, That if these Men would be pleas'd to fpend but a little of that time, which is fo often worfe employ'd, in the perufal of what is here offer'd, I hope that fomething they may meet withal, which may fatisfie their Doubts, and convince them of their Errors.
But though they should defpife whatever can be faid to them, yet there are others, befides the profefs'd Adverfaries of Reveal'd Religion,
to whom a Treatife of this nature may be ferviceable. The Truth is, notwithstanding the great Plainnefs of the Chriftian Religion, I cannot but think, that Ignorance is one chief caufe why it is fo little valu'd and efteem'd, and its Doctrines fo little obey'd: A great part of Chriftians content themselves with a very flight and imperfect Knowledge of the Religion they profefs; and are able to give but very little Reafon for that, which is the most Reasonable thing in the World; but they profefs it rather as the Religion of their Countrey, than of their own Choice; and because they find it contradicts their fenfual Defires, they are willing to believe as little of it as may be; and when they hear others cavil and trifle with it, partly out of Ignorance, and partly from Inclination, they take every idle Objection, if it be but bold enough, for an unanswerable Argument. Whereas, if Christians were but throughly acquainted with the Grounds of their Religion, and fincerely dif pofed to believe and practise according to them, they would be no more moved with thefe Cavils, than they would be perfuaded to think the worse of the Sun, if fome Men should take a Fancy to make that the Subject of their Raillery. To have the more doubtful and wavering Thoughts of Religion, because it is expos'd to the Scorn and Contempt of ill Men, is as if we fhould defpife the Sun for being under a Cloud, or fuffering an Eclipfe; not knowing that he retains his Light, and Religion its Excellency ftill, though we be in Darkness; the Light may bę
hid from us, but can lofe nothing of its own Brightness, though we fuffer for want of it, and lie under the shadow of death.
The Confideration of the Grounds and Reafons of our Religion is useful to all forts of Men: for if ever we would be seriously and truly Religious, we muft lay the Foundation of it in our Understandings, that, by the rational Conviction of our Minds, we may (through the Grace of God affifting us) bring our Wills to a Submiffion, and our Affections to the Obedience of the Gospel of Chrift; and the more we think of, and confider these things, the more we shall be convinced of them, and they will have the greater Power and influence in the Course of our Lives. For though the Truth of the Christian Religion cannot, without great Sin and Ignorance, be doubted of by Chriftians; yet it is a Confirmation to our Faith, and adds a new Life and Vigour to our Devotions, when we recollect upon what good Reafons we are Chriftians; and are not fuch by Cuftom and Education only, but upon Principles which we have throughly confider'd, and must abide by, unless we will renounce our Reafon with our Religion.
And what Subject can be more useful, or more worthy ofa rational and confidering Man's Thoughts? These things, which are now made matter of Cavil and Difpute, will be the Subject of our Contemplation, and of our Joy and Happinefs to all Eternity in the other World. We Thall then have clear and diftin&t Apprehenfions of the Means and Methods ofour Salvation, and