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understand, or determine itself by it's own will, allS ERM. the motions of matter that we know of, or can imagine, being neceffary: and partly from the juftice and goodness of GOD. The confideration of GoD's goodnefs would perfuade a man, that as he made all things very good, fo he made them of the longeft duration they were capable of: and the juftice of GoD would Heasily induce a man to believe, feeing the providence of GOD doth generally in this life deal promifcuously with good and bad men, that there fhall be a day which will make a difference, and every man fhall receive according to his works,

But I do not intend to infift upon thefe arguments; all that I defign is, to fhew what kind of arguments do work a faith or perfuafion in the mind concerning thefe principles of natural religion and they are reafons drawn from the thing.

And it is not always neceffary to the working of this faith or perfuafion, that thefe reafons fhould neceffarily, yea, or truly conclude the principle to be believed if they do it probably, and it appear fo to me, it is enough to beget a perfuafion in me of fuch a thing. There are many men entertain the greatest truths, and are firmly perfuaded of them, upon an incompetent argument, and fuch as might perfuade them of any thing elfe as well; and fuch perfons, if they have capacity and understanding, they are rather happy than wife in their religion. It falls out well that they happen to be in the right; for they might have been in the wrong upon the fame terms. But if the perfons who believe the principles of religion on infufficient arguments, and their belief have a real effect upon them, as it will, if it be true and permanent; if they be ignorant, and fuch as want the ordinary advantages of improving their knowledge,

they

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SERM. they are wife enough; that is, they are as wife as GOD's providence hath made them, and the circumftances of their education, and the condition of their life will let them be.

The III. thing to be enquired is, whether this faith or perfuafion of the principles of natural religion admit degrees, or not; and what differences are observable in them. That it does admit degrees, that is, that a man may be more or lefs perfuaded of the truth of these principles, is evident from the heathens; some of whom did yield a more firm and unfhaken affent to them; others entertained them with a more faint perfuafion of them, especially of the immortality of the foul, and a future ftate, about which most of them had many qualms and doubts. Of all the heathens, Socrates feems to have had the trueft and firmest persuasion of these things; which he did not only testify in words, but by the conftancy, and calmnefs, and fedate courage which he manifested at his death. Indeed in his difcourfe before his death, he fays, "he did not know whether his foul fhall re"main after his body, and whether there be a hap"piness reserved for good men in another world: "but he thought fo, and had fuch hopes of it, that " he was very willing to venture his life upon these "hopes." Which words, though they seem to be spoke doubtingly, as the manner of the academy was, yet confidering his manner of fpeaking, which was modeft, and not peremptory and dogmatical, they fignify as great a confidence as he had of any thing, and they are high expreffions of affurance. For we may believe that the man who dies for any thing, how modestly soever he may express himself, is very affured of the truth of it. So that this faith and perfuafion admits of degrees, the difference whereof is to

well

be

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be refolved partly into the capacity of the perfons who S ERM. believe; and partly into the ftrength, or at least appearance of strength in the arguments whereby it is wrought.

The IV. thing to be enquired is, what are the proper and genuine effects of this faith or perfuafion. Now that, in a word, is natural religion, which confifts in apprehenfions of GOD fuitable to his nature, and affections towards him fuitable to these apprehenfions, and actions fuitable to both. He that believes there is fuch a being in the world as GOD, that is, one infinitely good, and wife, and powerful, and juft, and holy, and (in a word) clothed with all excellency, will have a great esteem and reverence for him, and love to him, which he will testify in those outward expreffions of refpect which we call worship. He that believes that this being is the original of all good, that he made the world, and all the creatures in it, and preferves and governs them, he will depend upon him, and feek to him for every good thing, and acknowledge him for the author of them; which brings in prayer and thanksgiving. He that believes that he owes his being to GOD, and all the bleffings of his life, will think it reasonable that he fhould be at his disposal, will be willing to be governed by his laws, and ready to fubmit to his pleafure; which brings in obedience and fubmiffion to the will of GOD. He that believes there is another life after this, wherein men fhall be rewarded or punished, according as they have demeaned themselves well or ill in this world, he will be encouraged to piety and virtue, and afraid to do any thing which his own reafon tells him is difpleafing to the Deity, as he cannot but believe every thing is, that is contrary to the nature of God, or the perfection of his own nature, or the good order

and

SER M. and happinefs of the world; which brings in tempeCCXX. rance, and juftice, and all other real virtues. And

that the belief of these principles had this effect upon feveral of the heathens, to make them in a good degree religious and virtuous, I doubt not; the moral and honest lives of many of them give real teftimony of this; which natural religion and morality of theirs, how far it may avail them for their good, we are not concerned to determine. This we are fure of, that it will make their condition more tolerable in another world, and if they fall under condemnation, it will mitigate and allay their mifery.

V. In what fenfe this faith or perfuafion of the principles of natural religion may be faid to be divine. In these two refpects.

1. In respect of the object of it, or matters to be believed, which are divine, and do immediately concern religion, in oppofition to that which I call a civil and human faith, which is of fuch things as do not immediately concern GoD and religion.

2. In refpect of the divine effects of it, which are to make men religious and like GOD. And a faith may as properly be faid to be divine in refpect of the object of it, as in refpect of the argument whereby it is wrought: fo that a faith of the principles of natural religion is as truly divine, though it be not wrought in us by the arguments of divine teftimony and authority, as a faith of the matters of divine revelation contained in the holy fcriptures: for why a faith may not as well be faid to be divine for it's relation to GoD as the object of it, as for it's relation to the teftimony of GoD as the cause of it, I cannot understand.

Secondly, the fecond fort of faith, which I call divine or religious, is a perfuafion of things fupernaturally revealed, of things which are not known by na

tural

And JESUS

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tural light, but by fome more immediate manifefta- SER M. tion and difcovery from GoD. Thus we find our SAVIOUR, Matt. xvi. 15, 16, 17. oppofeth divine revelation to the difcovery of natural reafon and light. He afks his difciples whom they believed him to be; "whom fay ye that I am? and Simon Peter an"fwered and faid, thou art the CHRIST (that is, the Meffias) the Son of the living GOD. "anfwered and faid unto him, bleffed art thou, Si"mon Barjona; for flesh and blood hath not re"vealed it unto thee: but my Father which is in "heaven" where a revelation or discovery from flesh and blood is opposed to a revelation from God, "flesh and blood" being a Hebrew phrafe or manner of speaking, fignifying a mere man, or fomething merely human. So we find the phrase used, Eph. vi. 12. "we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but againft principalities, and powers, and spiritual wickednefs;" that is, the enemies we are to contend with, are not only men but devils; and, which is nearer to our purpofe, Gal. i. 16. where the apoftle would exprefs to us, that he received not his commiffion from men, but immediately from the LORD JESUS CHRIST; he tells us, that "when it pleaseth "GOD, who feparated him from his mother's womb, "and called him by his grace, to reveal his Son in "him, that he might preach him among the heathen, "immediately he conferred not with flesh and "blood" the word is @pooaredéμny, "I did not

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apply myself to flesh and blood;" that is, I did not go to men to receive my commiffion from them: for fo he explains it in the next words, "neither went "I up to Jerufalem, to them that were apoftles be"fore me;" that is, I did not apply myself to the apoftles, to derive any authority from them to preach

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