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SERM. the World, would make but an inconfideXV. rable Figure, juft as the Proportion of One to fo many Thousands. And then as to Religion, 'tis juft the fame there as in civil Life; the Knowledge a Man has of that, over and above what comes by Inspiration from the Spirit of God, comes the fame Way, by the Affiftance of others. For how fhould we have known any Thing of Religion at all, if it was not for a Communication of Thoughts and Reasons one with another about it? Indeed, how fhould we know fo much as that there is a God? 'Tis true, natural Reason would help us to this Discovery, and would also lead us further to this, That he muft be worshipp'd, and fo on to fome Scheme of Religion: I fay, natural Reafon will do this; but what then? This natural Reason is not the Reason of an individual Perfon, but the Reafon of Mankind, not that That would ever have made any great Progrefs in this Discovery. For as much as it wanted Perfection, fo much of course it would want to make it compleat; it could not therefore be a fufficient Foundation to rest upon, fomething farther being ftill wanted to fupply this Deficiency, which Mankind was fenfible of; fome Revelation from God, that might fill up the Vacuity of human Reafon,

XV.

fon, and be commenfurate with the Hopes, SERM. Fears and Defires of every Faculty of Man. Accordingly, they always pretended to fome Revelation, and whether their Pretenfions were juft or not, there was always a Foundation for them, as well from the Imperfection of human Reason, as from the Care and Superintendance which the Creator might be fuppos'd to have over his Creatures, and from the Benevolence of his Nature, which the Excellency of their Nature might. give them Hopes to confide in, whatever they might fear from his Juftice. 'Tis no Wonder that this fhould be the Cafe, because it is by no means an uncommon Thing among Christians to meet with Perfons, who are for refolving all the Attributes of God into that of Goodness: And not only Sinners do this, who have nothing to hope from his Justice, but even good Men themselves, who have thought, tho' not aright, that the Goodness of God had the Predominancy over the other Attributes. Indeed from his Dealings with Men, 'tis natural enough to think fo, but then there is no arguing from what happens in a small Part of Time in this Life, to what will be in Eternity, where it will be feen, that God is infinite every Way, and that Juftice will be done Rr

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SER M. to every Man, and every Action of Man, XV. however they may escape it here in this Life, through the Chance that belongs to Time. But to proceed, There was always I fay, a Foundation for a Revelation from God, to fupply the Defect of human Reafon, and People always pretended to one, and accordingly have ever appointed an Order of Men to officiate in this divine Intercourse between God and Man, and to fet afide their Time and Study to explain it to others. Now, 'tis monftrous to fuppofe, that the private Judgment of any one Man could be of fo much Signification, where this Revelation has been pretended, whether that of the Jews, or this of the Chriftians, either to himself or to others, as the united Judgment of a Body of Men, whofe whole Business it was (befides their being Men of equal Parts, for this must be fuppos'd, where we talk of Bodies of Men, and alfo the fuperior Affiftance they are justly, efpecially in the Chriftian Religion, fuppos'd to have,) to look into thefe Matters, and stand in a better Situation for it than any others can poffibly do. If private Judgment is not fufficient to carry a Man any great Lengths in civil Affairs; if it will not help him to attain any Art or Science without

without the Affiftance of thofe that have SERM. made fuch a particular Art, their Study (and XV. he can only know his Proportion as he S stands to it) much less can it do any great Matter in Religion; for we ftand in no better a Situation in this Cafe, than in the other, nor in fo good a one, because those who are appointed for Guides in thefe Affairs, befides, that this is their Belief and Employment, are fuppos'd by the Chriftian Scheme to have a double Portion of the Spirit to affift them. And indeed, whoever confiders the Importance of the Chriftian Religion, together with the Difficulties that muft of course attend the Study of it, partly from the Language in which it was written, which has for many Years become a dead one, and partly from the Nature of the Writings themselves from particular Customs and Circumftances of thofe Times, fo that a com3 petent Skill in thofe Things is requifite, in order to the better understanding them, and explaining them to others, will fee the great Reafon and Neceffity that a Set of Men fhould be employ'd about these Things, and the Neceffity likewife of their being affifted by the Spirit of God. 'Tis true, the Precepts of Christianity are plain and easy, and for the most Part level to the meanest CapaciRr 2

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SERM. ties, but then a good deal is not fo, a XV. that which is, would have been a dead Letter ftill, had they not been tranflated from the original Language for the use of ordinary People. And befides, were they, as to the whole, ever so plain and easy, yet the wisest are so subject to the Infirmities of human Nature that they want frequently to be reminded of them, or elfe they would have but little effect, which alfo fhews the Neceffity there is for an Order of Men to be fet apart for that Purpose, which I come now, 2dly to, confider.

It can be but of very little Signification, that there is this Provifion made for Mankind, if they will not, like the Person in the Text, shew a teachable Disposition. What Ufe can a Guide be of to one, who thinks he wants none, who is in his own Opinion allfufficient? To fay now-a-days, how can 1 understand except fome Man teach me? would pafs among fome for nothing but Banter and Grimace: The Language now is, I will learn of none, I have a Right to act and think for myfelf; and no one has any Bufinefs to deprive me of it by any Authority whatsoever, and to fet himself up for my Inftructor: But however this may prevail among fome few conceited Men, and

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