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First, I shall endeavour toshew wherein the true Force of this Argument from Miracles consists, or what it is that they prove.
Miracles are not intended to prove thesi Being of God, nor the Doctrines of Mo- l rality: 'F or Natural Religion is supported by I . Natural Reason, and has for its Evidence the Works of Nature. . Thus St. Paul argues in his first Chapter to the Romans, declaring that what was to be known of God was manifest to Men, God having shewed it unto them: For the in'vssble Things of him from the Creation of the H/orld are clearly seen, being understood by the Things that are. made, e-ven his eternal Power and Godhead. And in the most corrupt and degenerate Times God did not leave himself without Witness, continuing to do Good, to give Rain from Heaven and fruitful Seasons, filling the Hearts of Men with Joy and Gladnefs. These are the standing Proofs of the Being and Goodness of God: And Men need but open their Eyes, and look round them, to see the won-derful' and stupendous Works of Nature, which lead directly to the Knowledge of God. And what greater Evidence can Man have than this ? For if the making one World will not prove the Being of a God, the making of ten thousand will not. And
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therefþre this is a Principle of Religion not learnt from ReVelation, but which is always supposed as the Foundation of Revelation: Bor- no Revelation can. bring greater Works to prove it? Authoritn than the works by which the clear and unexceptionable, Dictates of Natural Religion are proved: For the Distinctipn between Miracles and Works of Nature is no more than this, That Works of Naxuze are Works of great Power produced constantly and in a regular Course, Which Course we call Nature ; That Miracles are Works of. great Power also, wrought in an unusual Way: But they are both considered in the same Light, and with equal Advantage, as leading to the Knowledge of a great, though invisible, Power. Thus we must acknowledge great Power to be shewn in the Sun's constant Rifing and Setting; and as great in his Standing still, should we see himstopped in his Course for the Space of a whole Day. That we have all Eyes to see, and Ears to hear, is an Effect of as great Power, as giving Sight to one born blind, or Hearing to one born deaf. Upon this Account 'tis impoffible that any true Revelation should contradict or evacuate any clear Dictate of Natural Religion, which stands at least upon as gOod a Bottom as any
Revelation ReVelation 'can do. And therefore the Principles of Natural Religion must be supposed for the Foundation of ReVealed: Which is intimated by the Writer to the Hehre-ws : He that comes to God, helieve that he is, and that he is a Rewarder of them that diligently si'eh him; that is, he must bring this Belief with him : For a Revelation is not to prove the Being of a God, or that he loves Virtue, and hates Vice. God never Wrought Miracles for this Purpose, having sufficiently' evidenced himself from the Beginning of the World by the Visible Things of the Creation : Andhad any one' asked our Saviour to shew' a Proof' that there was a God, I am apt to imagine he would have turned him over to the
_ Works of Nature, as hesidid the rich Man's Brethren to Most-s and the Prophets for aProof of a future State. '
But to ascertain the Use of Miracles, it? will' be' proper to consider when' and for what Purpose they were introduced. In-early' ' Times we met_with none: Nor Was there any Oecasi-on for them so long as Men preserved a right Notion of'GOd as (Maken- and: ahsolute Lord of ' the Universe, and wereacquainted with him, (I had almost said, personally acquainted with him) and knew his Voice when he spoke to them; for so
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