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ceased afterwards. They were necessary till Truth had Possession of the World; but Truth, throughly established, was left to be propagated by the natural Means of Instruction and Education.
Every body sees what Mischief and. Wickedness are often produced by false and corrupt Opinions and Principles; which owe not their Strength to Reason, for with Reason they have no Alliance, but to the Possession they have of the Mind. Good Principles, with the same Advantage of Possession, will be as powerful to good Purposes, though the Mind discerns not the Reason from whence they flow. There are but few Workmen, perhaps, who know the Reason, and can demonstrate the mechanic Powers of the Instruments, they use; but, being perfect in the Use and Application of these Powers, they are able Workmen and Master-builders; which is all that is required of them. In like manner, if true Religion is so introduced into the Mind, as to work in the Heart of Man, and make him upright and honest, the End and Purpose of Religion is answered.
To answer this End of Religion were the
Preachers of the Gospel sent into the World:
The Errand was worthy of Him who sent
them; whose Goodness and Mercy inclined him to teach Men the Way to Happiness, but not to flatter their Vanity and Pride of Knowledge. The Doctrines of the Gospel are not the worse for being Foolijhness to the Greeks, and a Stumbling-block to the Jewi', since they are, and on Experience appear to be, the Power of God to Salvation to all who believe.
jW^&eWN treating on this Subject, I fySstMX have already observed to you, M I Sa that there are two Propositions Cs^QAotvS or Assertions contained in the Words of the Text:
First, That the World by Wisdom knew not God.
Secondly, That it pleased God by the Foolishness of Preaching to save Believers.
It being allowed in general, that the World was grosly ignorant and superstitious, and unacquainted with the true Notion of God, and the Religion that was to be paid him; yet it will still be said, that there were some, some few at least, who had extricated themselves from these popular Errors; who
saw and acknowledged one supre the Cause of all Things; who ;ar
and distinct Notions of Morality, a foe Duties owing from Man to Ma lie Writings of some of these great i are still extant; and, if we consult onl} atoy Arijlotle, and the Roman Philosophe illy, we may see how far Reason and Phil phy could and did carry these Men in 3V itera os Religion and Morality.
From these and such-Iike Instances v ;are apt to form a general Notion of the Po ,vers of human Reason; and the Argument appears undeniable: Thus far human Reason did go without the Help of the Gospel, thus far therefore it certainly can go.
It may be worth our while to consider' this Casse, not with an Intent to depreciate the Worth of these, the best and greatest Men of Antiquity, but to state it clearly and fairly, as far-as it does, or may be supposed to affect the Argument for the Necessity of Revelation.
Supposing then, in the first Place, all that is said of these wise Men to be true, and that they did arrive at a clear and distinct Knowledge of God, and of the Religion that was due to him.; yet it will weigh but little in the present Consideration, for thfc
plain Reason j because Religion, if it is of any use at all, is equally of use to all Men: For, since all Men live under the Impression of natural Conscience? and the Sense of being accountable for their Actions, they all equally want Direction; and, as the Experience of the World shews, all Men will have some Religion, either good or bad. To say therefore that Reason was sufficient for the Purposes of Religion before the Publication of the Gospel, and to prove it by shewing that it served this Purpose in four or five Instances in an Age, whilst Millions and Millions had no Help from it, is quite mistaking the Point: We want something to be of use to all Men, and which all Men stand in need of to their Well-being: You have found something that will serve perhaps one in a Million, and think that-you have discovered an adequate Supply for the general Want. But what must become of the many Thousands who are incapable of being the better for your Method? If the whole Nation were infected with the Plague, it would be worth while to send even to the Indies for a Man who could cure them; but, if his Remedy could cure only two or three in the Kingdom, it would be of no great Consequence whether he came, or staid away.