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' genuine Religion from the specious Pretenccs-
ibf Counterfeits and Impostors.v In order to=si this, we must consider, that there are some Principles which in all Religions are allowed, þ and from the Consideration of which wemay poffibly come to some fixed Determination in this Matter: Such are these; That Life eternal can be had only from God, who
is the Author and Fountain of all Being: _
That from him the only Way to obtain it, is, by livingland conversing in this World agreeably to his holy Will: From whenceit evidently follows, That, since to do the Will of God is the only Way of obtaining
the Knowledge of God's Will, must needs be the Mrds of eternal Life. Thus far we can go upon mere Principles of Reason. From hence the Way lies open and plainto another Consequence of some Importance in the present (Mstionz For, since it is the Perfection of Religion, considered as a Rule or Institution, to direct us in all Things to act according to the Will of God, when we
inquire from what Principle we ought to _
derive our,Religion,_ we do in truth inquire
from what Principle we may best derive the
Knowledge of God's Will; for the Know
ledge of God's Will is universally acknowledged
ledged to be the_-true and proper Rule and 'Measure of our religiOus Obedience in all Things.
There are but two Ways by which we can poffibly' arrive at this Knowledge: One
is, by following the Dictates of Reason and; Nature ; when from that Knowledge of God
and his Attributes, which Reason and Nature furnish us with, we infer his 'Right of governing, and our Duty' of obeying; and when from the Holiness and Purity of God, and the necessary Difference between Good and Evil, we infer wherein our Obedience 'must consist, namely, in serving an holy God in holy Things, and in keeping ourselves pure and undefiled from Evil, even as he is pure. : And this is called Natural Religion. The
otherWay by which we may poffibly arrive '_ at the Knowledge of God's Will, is, by
having it declared-to us, either' immediately by God' himself, or by others sufficiently authorised and commiffioned by him to make such Declaration in his Name: And this is what we call Revelation. And, as Nature and Revelation are-thectonly Ways by which we can 'come to the understanding of God's Will z so, for that Reason, they are the only Principles from which Religion 'can derive itself. ' *
a D 3 Between
Between these two, considered purely as Principles of religious Knowledge, it is no hard Matter to judge, which is the safest and securest for us to rely on; it being a Matter that will bear no Dispute, whether our own Reason or God himself can best instruct us in the Knowledge of his Will; upon which single Point the whole ControVersy between Nature and Revelation turns, as long as they are considered only as Principles of Religion, without drawing into the ngestion the Merits of any particular Revelation, or of any partiCular scheme or System of Natural Religion: The Consequence of
which is plainly this; That, as Nature is a.
better Guide than any pretended Revelation, - so every true Revelation, as far as it goes, is a better Guide than Nature.
gwhiCh I have made this Deduction hitherto, si
is, That, when any particular Revelation is to be examined, when it lies before us' to be receiVed, or to be rejected, it is absurd, in the very nature siof the Thing, to put the Determination upon a Comparison between Natural Religion and Revelation, considered in themselves; since, if the Revelation be false, there want no Arguments to make
si ' yield