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forehand; and liable, in Appearance, to CHAP. great Objections: Objections against the III. Scheme itself

, and against the Degrees and w Manners of the miraculous Interpositions, by which it was attested and carried on. Thus fuppose a Prince to govern his Dominions in the wisest Manner possible, by common known Laws; and that upon

some Exigencies he should suspend these Laws; and vern, in feveral Instances, in a different Manner: If one of his Subjects were not a competent Judge beforehand, by what.common Rules the Government fhould or would be carried on; it could not be expected, that the same Person would be a competent Judge, in what Exigencies, or in what Manner, or to what Degree, those Laws commonly observed would be suspended or deviated from. If he were not a Judge of the Wisdom of the ordinary Administration; there is no Reafon to think, he would be a Judge of the Wisdom of the extraordinary. If he thought he had Objections against the former ; doubt, less, it is highly fuppofeable, he might think also, that he had Objections against

the latter. And thus, as we fall into infinite Follies and Mistakes, whenever we :pretend, otherwise than from Experience and Analogy, to judge of the Conftitution and Course of Nature; it is evidently supposeable beforehand, that we should fall into as great, in pretending to

judge,

PAR Tjudge, in like Manner, concerning RevelaII. tion. Nor is there any more Ground to ex

pect, that this latter should appear to us clear of Objections, than that the former should.

These Observations, relating to the whole of Christianity, are applicable to Inspiration in particular. As we are in no Sort Judges beforehand, by what Laws or Rules, in what Degree, or by what Means, it were to have been expected, that God would naturally instruct us: so upon Supposition of his affording us Light and Instruction by Revelation, additional to what he has afforded us by Reason and Experience, we

are in no Sort Judges, by what Methods and in what Proportion, it were to be expected, that this fupernatural Light and Instruction would be afforded us. We know not beforehand, what Degree or Kind of natural Information, it were to be expected God would afford Men, each by his own Reason and Experience: nor how far He would enable, and effectually dispose them to communicate it, whatever it should be, to each other: nor whether the Evidence of it would be, certain, highly probable, or doubtful: nor whether it would be given with equal Clearness and Conviction to all. Nor could we guess, upon any good Ground I mean, whether natural Knowledge, or even the Faculty itself, by which we are capable

of

!

of attaining it, Reason, would be given us CHAP.
at once, or gradually. In like Manner, we III.
are wholly ignorant, what Degree of new m
Knowledge, it were to be expected, God
would give Mankind by Revelation, upon
Supposition of his affording one: or how far,
or in what Way, he would interpose miracu-
lously, to qualify them, to whom he should
originally make the Revelation, for commu-
nicating the Knowledge given by it; and to
secure their doing it to the Age in which they
fhould live; and to secure its being transmit-
ted to Posterity. We are equally ignorant,
whether the Evidence of it would be, certain,
or highly probable, or doubtfulo: or whe-
ther all who should have any Degree of In-
struction from it, and any Degree of Evidence
of its Truth, would have the same: or whe-
ther the Scheme would be revealed at once,
or unfolded gradually. Nay we are not in
any Sort able to judge, whether it were to
have been expected, that the Revelation
should have been committed to Writing; or
left to be handed down, and consequently
corrupted by verbal Tradition, and at length
sunk under it, if Mankind so pleased, and
during such Time as they are permitted,
in the Degree they evidently are,

to act
as they will.

See Ch. vi.

But

PART But it may be said, “ that a Revelation in

II. « some of the abovementioned Circumstanma ces; one, for Instance, which was not

“ committed to Writing, and thus secured a

gainst Danger of Corruption, would not “ have answered its Purpose." I ask, what Purpose? It would not have answered all the Purposes which it has now answered, and in the same Degree: but it would have answered others, or the fame in different Degrees. And which of these were the Purposes of God, and best fell in with his general Government, we could not at all have determined beforehand.

Now since it has been shewn, that we have no Principles of Reafon, upon which to judge beforehand, how it were to be expected Revelation should have been left, or what was most suitable to the divine Plan of Government, in any of the forementioned Refpects; it must be quite frivolous to object afterwards as to any of them, against its being left in one Way, rather than another: For this would be to object against Things, upon account of their being different from Expectations, which have been shewn to be without Reason. And thus we see, that the only Question concerning the Truth of Christianity, is, whether it be a real Revelation; not whether it be at

tended

tended with every Circumstance which we CÀHP. should have looked for: and concerning the IJI. Authority of Scripture, whether it be what it claims to be; not whether it be a Book of fuch Sort, and so promulged, as weak Men are apt to fancy, a Book containing a divine Revelation should. And therefore, neither Obscurity, nor seeming Inaccuracy of Stile, nor various Readings, nor early Disputes about the Authors of particular Parts; nor any other things of the like Kind, though they had been much more considerable in Degree than they are, could overthrow the Authority of the Scripture: unless the Prophets, Apostles, or our Lord, had promised, that the Book contaning the divine Revelation, should be fecure from those things. Nor indeed can any Objections overthrow fuch a Kind of Revelation as the Christian claims to be, since there are no Objections against the Morality of it, but such as can Thew, that there is no Proof of Miracles wrought originally in Attestation of it; no Appearance of any thing miraculous in its obtaining in the World; nor any of Prophecy, that is, of Events foretold, which human Sagacity could not foresee. If it can be shewn, that the Proof alledged for all these, is absolutely none at all, then is Revelation overturned. But were it allowed, that the Proof of

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