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periment, how far the Wisdom of Socrates, attended with all the Advantages beforementioned, could go in reforming the World. And what was the Effect of all this? Can you name the Place where Religion was reformed? Can you name the Man who was so far reformed, as to renounce the Superstition of his Country? No; none such are to be found; and how should there? since* the greater the Credit and Reputation of Socrates were, the more strongly did they draw Men to imitate his Example, and to worship as their Country worshipped.

Consider, on the other side, what was the Consequence of preaching the Gospel. St. Paul entertained the Athenians with no fine Speculations; but he laid before them, in the plainest Dress, the great and momentous Truths of Religion; he openly rebuked their Idolatry, and condemned their Superstition. The Gospel was published in the fame Manner every-where. The first Preachers of it were enabled to support it by Miracles; and most of them shed their Blood in Defence of its Truth. By these Means they came likewise to have Credit and Authority in the World. But in these two Cases there was this great Difference: The corrupt Example of Socrates was a dead Weight upon the

Purity Purity of his Doctrine, and tended to perpetuate Superstition in the World: The Authority and Example of the Apostles went hand in hand, and united their Force to root out Idolatry. There was this farther Difference too: The Doctrines of Socrates could go only among the Learned: The Doctrines of the Gospel were artless and plain, and suited to every Man's Capacity.

For near four hundred Years the Disciples

of Socrates had the World to themselves, to

reform it if they could; in all which Time

there is no Evidence remaining that the

Religion of the World was the better for

their Wisdom. But in much less Time the

Gospel prevailed in most Parts of the known

World: Wherever it came, Superstition and

Idolatry fled before it: And in little more

than three Centuries the Empire became

Christian; which completed the Victory over

the Heathen Deities. And, if we may judge

by this Comparison between the wisest of

the Heathens and ah Apostle of Christ, the

Doctrine of the Text will be fully verified;

That the World by Wisdom knew not God, and

that God by the Foolishness of Preaching has

provided Salvation for them who believe.

I have gone through the principal Points which the Text led consider, and shall


add but few Words by way of Refle&tion on the whole. If then it appears from History, and the Experience of the World before us, that Men for Ages together lived in Ignorance of the true God, and of true Religion, and that Reason was not able to contend against inveterate Errors and Superstitions; let us not be so vain as to imagine that we could have done more in the same Circumstances, than all or any who lived in the many Ages of Idolatry. If we consider to what Height Arts and Sciences were carried in those Days, and the Politeness of Greece and Rome in all Parts of Learning, we shall have little Reason to imagine that Men have grown wiser as the World has grown older. If we have more Reason in Matters of Religion, and undoubtedly we have more, it should lead us to confider to whom we are indebted for the happy Change, and to give Praise to Him who set the Reason of Mankind free from the Chains under which it had been fast bound for Ages together by Superstition and Idolatry. - When we confider the Means made use of by God for restoring true Religion in the World, and pretend to judge of the Fitness of them to attain the End proposed, we should

should be aware of being misled by the Conceits of some who think themselves wise enough to give Directions in a Matter of so great Moment. Some may imagine it might be better, if the Gospel had reasoned more philosophically on the Nature of the Deity, or more fully explained the Nature of the human Soul; and others may wish that other abstruse Points of Reason and Divinity had been cleared to their Satisfaction. But this was not the Errand Christ came on : He came to teach true Religion, and to teach it to all Men; and therefore what was not fit for all was no Part of his Bufiness. The Greeks sought after Wisdom, and the jews required a Sign : But the Preachers of the Gospel had no Commission to satisfy the Curiosity of one or of the other ; but to teach the Doctrines of God in such a Manner, and to prove them by such Means, as might influence and affect as well the lowest as the highest. If then the Means made use of to introduce the Gospel into the World were such as were proper and necessary to subdue antient Errors and Prejudices; if the Truths taught by Christ are a proper Foundation for all the Duties of Religion in which Man can have any Concern ; if they are left to be supported in the World, and

- propagated

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propagated from Age to Age, by Methods which by Experience have been found effectual, and which, human Nature considered, must be effectual to preserve the Profession of Religion amongst Men: If, I say, we discover these Marks in the Gospel, we see enough to convince us that the Gospel is the Power of God and the Wisdom of God unto Salvation; which is seeing all that we are concerned to look after, or have any Pretence to expect from Him who came to save and

to redeem us. Lastly, Since we have the Experience of many Ages before us to shew us how unable human Reason is to struggle against the Errors and Follies of Superstition, when once they have got Possession; since from our own Experience we know how much Reason is indebted to the Light of the Gospel; we should be careful to preserve this Light, for fear of falling back again into the wretched State from which we have been delivered, or into a worse. Reason was once, what the Light of the Gospel is now, a sufficient Guide in Religion: But, when Men grew corrupt and vain in their Imaginations, Superstition and Error prevailed over the World, and false Religion led Reason in Triumph for Ages together. As

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