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IN Difcourfing of the Reasonableness and Certainty of the Chriftian Religion, I fhall ufe this Method: I. I fhall fhew, That from the Notion of a God, it neceffarily follows, that there must be fome Divine Revelation. II. I fhall enquire into the Way and Manner by which this Revelation may be fuppos'd to be delivered and preferved in the World. III. I fhall fhew, That from the Notion of a God, and the Nature and Defign of a Divine Revelation, it follows, That the Scriptures of the Old and New Teftament are that Divine Revelation. IV. That no other Books or Doctrines what foever can be of Divine Revelation. V. I fhall from hence give a Refolution of our Faith, by fhewing, That we have the fame Evidence for the Truth and Divine Authority of the Scriptures, that we have for the Being of God himfelf; because it follows, from the Notion of a God, both that there must of neceffity be fome Divine Revelation,
velation, and that the Scriptures are that Divine Revelation. VI. Having done this, I fhall, in the last place, endeavour to clear fuch Points as are commonly thought moft liable to exception in the Christian Religion! and fhall propofe fome Confiderations, which may ferve to remove fuch Objections, and obviate fuch Cavils as are ufually rais'd against the Holy Scriptures.
VAUNUNUNUNUNUNUA UNUNUNUNUNUN OGKIRSNISO
CHA P. I.
That from the Notion of a God, it neceffarily follows that there must be fome Divine Revelation.
'N the First place, I fhall fhew how Reasonable and neceffary it is to fuppofe, that God fhould Reveal himself to Mankind: And I fhall infift the rather upon this, because it is not ufually fo much confider'd in this Controverfy, as it ought to be; for if it were, it certainly would go very far towards the proving the Divine Authority of the Scriptures; fince if it be once made appear that there muft be fome Divine Revelation, it will be no hard Matter to prove that the Scriptures are that Revelation: For if it be proved that there must be fome Revealed Religion, there is no other which can bear any competition with that contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Teftament. My first Business therefore fhall be to fhew, from the Confideration of the Attributes of God, and of the Nature and State of Mankind, that in all reafon we cannot but believe that there is some Revealed Religion in the World.
There is nothing more evident to Natural Reafon, than that there must be fome Beginning, fome First Principle of Being, from whence all other Beings proceed. And nothing can be more abfurd, than to ima
gine that That wonderful variety of Beings in the Heavens, and Earth, and Seas, which all the Wifdom of Man is not able in any meafure to understand, or thoroughly to fearch into, fhould yet be produced and continued for fo many Thousand Years together, without any Wisdom or Contrivance; that an unaccountable Concourfe of Atoms, which could never build the least House or Cottage, fhould yet build and fuftain the wonderful Fabrick of the whole World; that when the very Lines in a Globe or Sphere cannot be made without Art, the World it felf, which that is but an imperfect Imitation of, fhould be made without it; and that lefs Skill fhould be required to the forming of a Man, than is neceffary to the making of his Picture; that Chance fhould be the cause of all the Order, and Fortune of all the Conftancy and Regularity in the Nature of Things; and that the very Faculties of Reafon and Understanding in all Mankind, fhould have their Original from that, which had no Sense or Knowledge, but was meer Ignorance and Stupidity. This is fo far from being Reafon and Philofophy, that it is down-right Folly and Contradiction.
From a Being therefore of Infinite Perfection must proceed all things that are befides, with all their Perfections and Excellencies, and among others, the Virtues and Excellencies of Wisdom, Juftice, Mercy and Truth, muft be derived from him, as the Author of all the Perfections of which the Creatures are capable. And it is abfurd to imagine that the Creator and Governor of the World, who is infinitely more Just, more Wife, and Good, and Holy than any Creature can be, will not at laft reward the Good, and punifh the Wicked. For, Shall not the Judge of all the Earth do right? Is it to be fuppofed, that the Wife and Good God would create Men only to abuse themselves and one another? to live a-while in Sin and Folly here, and some of them in the moft extravagant and brutal Wickedness, and then go down to the Grave, and fo
there should be an end of them for ever? What is there worthy of the infinite Wifdom of God, in fo poor a Defign as this! Doth not the Voice of Nature it felf teach us, and has it not been the general Belief and Expectation of all Ages and Nations, that the profperous Sinner, who is fubtle and powerful to do mischief, muft fuffer in another World, for what he has done amifs here? and, that all is not to pafs away with us in Sport and Extravagance, in Laughter and Noise, in Riot, or in Violence and Cruelty, as fome Men are willing to believe; as if the World were made for the Wicked, and they to abuse it?
It appears likewife from the common Belief and Experience of Mankind, that as there is a God of infinite Goodness and Holiness; fo there are wicked and malicious Spirits, which are ever contriving the Mischief and Ruin of Men. For befides the Evidence of this from Scripture, which we must be allowed here to alledge in the nature at least of an Hiftory, it is folly to imagine that all the Oracles and Prodigies of the Heathens could be mere Forgeries, and that there was no ground nor foundation for fuch a Belief, as univerfally obtained in all Nations and Ages of the World, and for the Cuftoms and Practices which followed upon this Belief, that there are Demons, or Spirits, of an evil and malicious Difpofition and Power. I fhall inftance only in the unnatural Cruelties which the Heathen World, even the Greeks and Romans themfelves, were continually put upon, by the Inftigation of thefe malicious and wicked Spirits. For the Heathen Nations offered up multitudes of innocent Men and Women, and even their own Children, in Sacrifice to their False Gods; which is as fure an Evidence that there are fuch Beings, which required these Cruelties from them, as it is, that there are Tyrants and Perfecutors, when they cause innocent Men to be murthered, and Children to be torn from the Arms of their Parents, and flain in their fight. And tho' the
Dominion of Satan be now reftrained by the overruling Power of the Gospel, we have as great Evidence from all Hiftory that there are fuch Beings as Devils, as we have for any other Matter of Fact whatfoever. There have been indeed many falfe Stories concerning Spirits, as well as in other Matters of Hiftory: But doth this prove that there are none true? or could the Hiftorians of all Times and Places be perpetually impofed upon, or confpire to impofe upon others? If we may credit Authors of as high efteem as any human Hiftory can afford; Men of good Learning and true Courage, and of little inclination to believe things of this nature, have been Witneffes of Apparitions. I inftance in a Dion, Brutus, Curtius Rufus, and Athenodorus the Philofopher. When Dion and Brutus, Men famous for Philofophy, not prone to Fear, but of great Conftancy of Mind, became fo concerned, that they acquainted others with what they had feen; this, as Plutarch remarks, is a mighty Argument for the Truth of this Doctrine. There is no ancient History but gives fome Inftance or other of these things; and all the modern Hiftories of Heathen Nations are full of fuch Relations as confirm this Truth to us; and even among Chriftians, those who have by unlawful Arts put themselves under the Power of wicked Spirits, have been convinced that there are fuch Beings; which is proved, not only by the publick Confeffions of Witches in all Nations, but by the private Acknowledgments of divers learned Men, both Phyficians and others, who have made attempts to discover the Truth of this Matter, in different Places, and were Perfons neither timorous nor fuperftitious. But the Apparition of Spirits is Preternatural; and therefore, that Good Spirits, who live in perfect Obe
a Plut. in Dion. & Brut. b Plin. Epift. 1. 7. ad Suram. c In Dion. initio. d See Mr. Boyle's Excellency of Theology, &c. § 1. and Dr. Cafaubon's Preface to Dee of Spirits.