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SERM.III weigh the numerous Proofs for it, he cannot but continue a Chriftian. For Chriftianity has too many and ftrong Appearances of Truth, for any, who deliberately and unbiaffedly attends to them, to believe it an Impofture. It has been fifted as Wheat: And the Confequence is, that fome few trifling Confiderations, which had been formerly alledged in Favour of it, have been fet afide, like the Chaff, which the Wind fcattereth away from the Face of the Earth; but it's folid and substantial Arguments, like the good Seed, fall not to the Ground, but remain firm, without any debafing Mixtures.
To reject Christianity, because of the Difficulties with which it's Doctrines are attended; is to reject it as falfe for that, which seems to be an Argument of it's Truth. I will explain myself immediately. Christianity, fuppofing it's Truth, is a Revelation from God. A Revelation from God must contain fomething of the Nature, Will and Counfels of God, as far as they relate to us.-Now the Will, Counfels and Nature of an infinite Being, must be, in a great measure, unfearchable to, and incomprehenfible by, Beings of such a fcanty Pittance of Understanding, as we have,
have. That is, they must be encumbered SERM.III. with infuperable Difficulties. To object Difficulties then against Christianity, is to make that an Argument against the Truth of Christianity; which Christianity, Suppohng it's Truth, muft, in the Nature of the Thing, be attended with. The united Force of Unbelievers has never been able to invalidate the feveral Arguments that have been brought to prove the Truth of Revelation; and while these and while these prove it to be true, Difficulties cannot alter the Nature of Things; they cannot make that to be falfe, for the Truth of which we have forcible Proofs.
Liften not therefore to the Suggestions of defigning Men. Under a Pretence of banishing your Apprehenfions of a future Judgment, they will only dash your Hopes, and weaken your Expectations of a blessed Immortality; alarming those very Apprehenfions, which they promised to remove, by adding to your other Terrors, this new Fear, which will continually haunt you; a Fear, left you have finned in difmiffing your first Perfuafion for very flight and frivolous Reasons. There may be feveral, who have just Sense enough to see there F 2
SERM. III. are Difficulties in Christianity; but not Senfe enough to fee they are but Difficulties: And these may be confirmed Infidels, meer Reeds fhaken with the Wind; with every Blast of vain Doctrine. But where there are no infuperable Prejudices of Education in the Cafe; take it for granted, that Men of cool Heads, who dare think Home, who dare follow Truth with the fame Indifference, as a Traveller enquires after the best Road that leads to his Journey's End, do not think fo differently in material Points as you may imagine. They may hang out falfe Colours; but, depend upon it, the utmost Length Men are capable of going, who are thoroughly willing and able to drive each Argument to an Head, is to have fome Doubts and Scruples, which are preponderated by an exceeding Weight of Evidence on the other Side. Abfolute infallible Certainty is in Heaven, and we are upon Earth; but there is fuch a Degree of moral Certainty, as is fufficient to overbalance all Doubts. We know every Objection against Chriftianity as well as they do and there is not the leaft Shadow of a ;' Demonftration against it: But the Reasons for it are fo ftrong, that though they do
not amount to à ftrict Demonftration, they SERM.III. make near Approaches to it.
I know the Firmnefs of our Affent does not depend fo much on outward Evidences, be they never fo forcible, as on the inward Frame and Bent of the Mind. Yet I take it to be almost as impoffible for a Man, fuppofing his Faculties to be good, and duly exercised, to be deceived intirely in a Point of Moment; as it is for him, when under the Influence of fome criminal Paffion, not to deceive himself in Part. The Cafe is the fame in Relation to very material Errors, as it is in Regard to fecret Vices. The latter may escape our Obfervation, as to any particular, distinct, explicit Knowledge of them: However, we have general, confufed, indiftinct Notices, that all is not right within, as to the Article of Sins in fome measure unfufpected; and this is the Reafon, why we are averse to search out our Spirits ; lest we should find that to be too true, upon a mature Examination, which we mistrusted upon a careless, tranfient Glance of Thought. Juft fo it is in Matters of Belief. Where there is a moral Certainty, any wrong Affection may fo far blind even a Thinking Man, that he shall not have a thorough and deter
SERM.III. determined Conviction of the Truth; but he cannot shut out or fupprefs the Evidences for it fo entirely, as not to have a general Diftruft, and an implicit Sufpicion, that he is in the Wrong: Which general Distrust is the Cause, that he is fo unwilling to look into a Book, which is written with great Strength of Reafon on the other Side, left he should let in the Enemy Truth to disturb his Repose.
There may be, however, fome Exceptions to what is here laid down. Men may have something particular in their Temper: There is fometimes an unfufpected Wrongnefs of Understanding, which, because it does not difcharge itfelf in Raving, escapes the Eye of common Obfervers; but yet shall leaven a Man's whole Way of Thinking: And it generally falls in with the reigning Bent of the Times. When the Nation was in a Ferment about Religion, and for, what was called, a greater Purity in it, it ftruck in with the general Vogue of the Age, and vented itself in all the Extravagancies of Fanaticifm: But now, when Things have taken a different Turn, and Irreligion is the prevailing Mode; it has received a new Determination from thence. Hence