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and please God by, that is, it must be the best Religion.
From hence then, I say, it is incumbent on every Man of Sense and Reason, upon every one who judges for himself in the Choice of his Religion, first to inquire whether there be a Revelation, or no: Nor can the Precepts of Natural Religion fingly be drawn into question, till 'tis first certain, that i there is no Revelation to direct us : And therefore there can be no Comparison stated generally between Natural and Revealed Religion, in order to determine our Choice between them; because the Revelation must be first rejected, before Natural Religion can pretend to the sole Direction.
And yet this is the beaten Path that Unbelievers tread: They consider in general, that Revelation is subject to many Uncertainties ; it may be a Cheat at first, or it may be corrupted afterwards, and not faithfully handed down to them ; but in Natural Religion there can be no Cheat, because in that every Man judges for himself, and is bound to nothing but what is agreeable to the Dictates of Reason and his own Mind : And upon
these general Views they reject all Revelations whatever, and adhere to Natural Religion as the safer Guide. But attend
to the Consequence of this Reasoning, which is this; That, because there may be a false Revolation, therefore there cannot be a true one: For, unless this Consequence be just, they are inexcusable in rejecting all Revelations, because of the Uncertainties which may attend them.
But now to apply what has been said to the Christian Revelation : It has such Pretences, at least, as may make it worthy of a particular Confideration: It pretends to come from Heaven; to have been delivered by the Son of God; to have been confirmed by undeniable Miracles and Prophecies; to have been ratified by the Blood of Christ and his Apostles, who died in asserting its Truth: It can thew likewise an innumerable Company of Martyrs and Confessors: Its Doctrines are pure and holy, its Precepts juft and righteous ; its Worship is a reasonable Service, refined from the Errors of Idolatry and Superstition, and fpiritual like the God who is the Object of it: It offers the Aid and Afliftance of Heaven to the Weakness of Nature ; which makes the Religion of the Gospel to be as practicable, as it is reasonable : It promises infinite Rewards to Obedience, and threatens eternal Punishment to obstinate Offenders; which makes
it of the utmoft Consequence to us foberly to consider it, since every one who rejects it stakes his own Soul against the Truth of it.
Are these fuch Pretences, as are to be turned off with general and loose Objections? Because Miracles may be pretended, shall not the Miracles of Christ be considered, which were not so much as questioned by the Adversaries of the Gospel in the first Ages ? Because there may be Impostors, shall Christ be rejected, whose Life was Innocence, and free from any Suspicion of private Design, and who died to seal the Truths he had delivered ? Because there have been Cheats introduced by worldly Men, endeavouring to make a Gain of Godliness, shall the Gospel be suspected, that in every Page declares against the World, against the Pleasures, the Riches, the Glories of it; that labours no one Thing more than to draw off the Affections from Things below, and to raise them to the Enjoyment of heavenly and spiritual Delights?
But, whether you will consider it, or no; yet there is such a Call to you to consider it, as must render your Neglect inexcusable. You cannot say, you want Inducement to consider it, when you see it entertained by Men of all Degrees. The Gospel does not
make so mean a Figure in the World, as to justify your Contempt of it : The Light shines forth in the World, whether
will receive it, or no; if you receive it not, the Consequence is upon your own Soul, and you must answer it.
Were Men sincere in their Profeffions of Religion, or even in their Desires of Salvation and Immortality, the Controversies in Religion would soon take a new Turn: The only Question would be, whether the Gofpel were true, or no: We should have no Reasoning against Revelation in general; for 'tis impossible that a sincerely religious Man should not wish for a Revelation of God's Will, if there be not one already: We should then see another kind of Industry used in searching the Truths of God, which are now overlooked, because Men have lost their Regard for the Things which make for their Salvation. Were the Gospel but a Title to an Estate, there is not an Infidel of them all, who would sit down contented with his own general Reasonings against it: It would then be thought worth looking into ; its Proofs would be considered, and a just Weight allowed them: And yet the Gospel is our Title, our only Title, to a much nobler Inheritance than this World knows;
'tis the Patent by which we claim Life and Immortality, and all the Joys and Blessings of the heavenly Canaan. Had any Man but à Pedigree as antient as the Gospel, what a Noise fhould we have about it? And yet the Gospel is despised, which sets forth to us a nobler Pedigree than the Kings of the Earth can boast; a Descent from Chrift, who is Head over the whole Family; by which we claim as Heirs of God, and Coheirs with Christ : And, did we not despise our Relation with Christ, and secretly abhor and dread the Thoughts of Immortality, we could not be so cold in our Regard to the Gospel of God.
I wish every Man, who argues against the Christian Religion, would take this one serious Thought along with him; That he must one Day, if he believes that God will judge the World, argue the Case once more at the Judgment-Seat of God: And let him try his Reasons accordingly. Do you reject the Gospel, because you will admit nothing that pretends to be a Revelation ? Consider well; is it a Reason that
will justify to the Face of God? Will you tell him, that you had resolved to receive no positive Commands from him, nor to admit any of his