صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني
[ocr errors]

prompt you to this Demand: and verily I fay
unto you, there fhall be no Sign given, no fuch
vifible Manifeftation of divine Glory as you
infolently require, vouchfafed to this Genera-
tion: nor is it requifite. When ye fee a Cloud
rife out of the Weft, ftraightway ye fay, there
cometh a Shower, and fo it is. And when ye fee
the South Wind blow, ye fay, there will be Heat,
and it cometh to pass. Ye Hypocrites, ye can
difcern the Face of the Sky and of the Earth:
but how is it that ye do not difcern this Time ?
That is on other Occafions you appear very
able to judge of Things by the proper
cations of them. How can you then, with
any Colour of Sincerity, pretend, that amidst
so many Prophecies fulfilled, and fo many
Miracles performed, you have not, after all,
fufficient Conviction, that this is the Seafon
when the Meffiah should appear, and that I am
He? Nay, as to the principal Part of my Doc-
trine, which is the real Caufe of your Antipathy
to the Whole; as to the great Precepts of pure
Religion and uniform Virtue, and your Need of
Repentance and Faith in God's Mercy; what
Occafion is there for any farther Demonstrations
of them, than your own Hearts, if honestly
• Luke xii. 54, 55, 56.

d Mark viii. 12.


[ocr errors]

confulted, will not fail to afford? Yea, and why even of your felves judge ye not what is right?

Now this Method of reafoning is equally applicable to Unbelievers and Cavillers in all Ages. It is in vain for them, to invent new Difficulties, or magnify old ones, concerning the Authority of our Religion; while the Reason of Things, the Truth of Facts, and the Nature of God and Man, continue to exhibit so full Proof of those fundamental Articles of it, the eternal Obligation of moral Duties, the Sinfulnefs of every one's Nature and Life, the Neceffity of Repentance, and humble Application for Pardon and Grace. And, fince the true Quarrel of fuch Perfons is against these Doctrines, and these cannot be shaken; they had much better reconcile themfelves to the Whole, than make fruitlefs Attacks upon one Part; in which if they were to fucceed, (as they never will) they would, in Point of Argument, be almoft as far from their favourite Scheme, of Liberty to do what they please, and think highly of themselves notwithstanding, as they were before. Suppose there are some Doctrines, against which they can find more Objections, than their Neighbours: there are furely others, of which they can difcern more clearly the cer

tain Grounds. If not, they have employed their imagined fuperior Faculties to very ill Purpose. Or, were they to doubt of ever fo many Points; yet, if they take Pains for it, and force themfelves to doubt, hunting every Way for Difficulties, asking for no Solutions, and turning a deaf Ear to them when offered; they have no more Excufe for any Part of their confequent wrong Behaviour, than if they had no Doubts at all. For the Whole of their Cafe is: they perplex Things on Purpofe, in order to complain that they are not clear: walk with their Eyes wilfully fhut, and then infift, that they cannot be blamed, if they ftumble; for it is quite dark, and they do not fee a Step of their Way.

But let us now proceed to thofe, who acknowledge themfelves, as many of the former would, if they had more Modefty, the less knowing Part of Mankind. Some of these profefs a fecond-hand Sort of Scepticism; built not fo much on their own Judgment, as that of their admired Leaders juft mentioned. But fince the Mafters are indefenfible, their implicit Disciples must be yet more fo. For, if the Queftion is to be decided by the Authority of Men of Letters and Abilities, the greatest Number and moft eminent, beyond


[ocr errors]

all Comparison, have confeffedly been always on the Side of Religion: even excluding the Clergy, as interested in the Case: which, however, is by no Means thought a fufficient Reafon, in other Profeffions, why Men of known Skill and Probity fhould be difregarded, in what they unanimoufly affirm, after careful Examination.

But the Generality of the unlearned confefs the Obligation of Christianity most readily; yet daily tranfgrefs its Laws: and, when they are charged with their Fault, plead Ignorance, as we have seen, amongst other Things, efpecially the lower Part of them, to excuse their Difobedience to the cleareft Revelation of God's Will, that the World ever knew; and whose . early Distinction it was, that the Poor had the Gospel preached to them. Why then may we not fay to fuch, as our Saviour faid to the Jews; Ye Hypocrites, ye can difcern the Face of the Sky and of the Earth? You can judge in all the common Affairs of Life. You can attain to a competent Skill, many Times to great Perfection, in your feveral Employments, and Trades though attended with many Difficulties, and requiring much Application and

Matth. xi. 5.


Dexterity. You can forcfee, at a Distance, what will make for your worldly Intereft, or against it: you can lay Schemes, full of Cunning and long Reach, for guarding against Dangers, retrieving Loffes, fecuring and improving Advantages. What hinders you then from arriving at the Knowledge of Religion; which confifts in Things much easier to be understood: Love and Reverence to God, Juftice and Goodness to your Fellow-creatures, reasonable and virtuous Government of yourfelves, humble Recourfe to the divine Mercy. when you have done amifs, and faithful Ufe of the divine Affiftance to amend? If you have Inftructors in the Management of Bufinefs, and the Wisdom of this World: have you not Instruction also in the Precepts of a Christian Life? One Day in seven of your Time, at leaft, you are not only allowed, but enjoined, to fpend principally in learning and thinking of your Duty. The Word of God is read to you, if you are not able to read it yourselves: it is explained to you, if it be not already plain enough: and the most important Parts are the plaineft of all. The feveral Articles of Chriftian Faith and Practice are taught you in your earliest Childhood; and imprinted on your Memory at the Time, when

« السابقةمتابعة »