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or less attentive Exercise of it could.' Now CHAP.
fpeculative Difficulties are, in this Refpect, VI.
of the very fame Nature with these external
Temptations. For the Evidence of Religion
not appearing obvious, is, to fome Perfons, a
Temptation to reject it, without
deration at all; and therefore requires such an
attentive Exercise of the virtuous Principle,
ferioufly to confider That Evidence, as there
would be no Occasion for, but for such Temp-
tation. And the supposed Doubtfulness of
its Evidence, after it has been in fome Sort
confidered, affords Opportunity to an unfair
Mind of explaining away, and deceitfully
hiding from itself, That Evidence which it
might fee; and also for Men's encouraging
themselves in Vice from Hopes of Impunity,
though they do clearly see thus much at least,
that these Hopes are uncertain : In like Mana
Her as the common Temptation to many In-
Atances of Folly which end in temporal m-
famy and Ruin, is; the Ground for Hope of
not being detected, and of escaping with Im-
punity; i.e. the Doubtfulness of the Proof
beforehand, that such foolish Behaviour will
thus end in lafamy and Ruin. On the con-
trary, supposed doubtfulness in the Evidence
of Religion calls for a more careful and atten-
tive Exercise of the virtuous Principle, in
fairly yielding themselves up to the proper In-
fluence of any real Evidence, though doubt-

any Confi


PART ful; and in practicing conscientiously all VirII. tue, though under fome Uncertainty, whe

ther the Government in the Universe may not possibly be such, as that Vice may escape with

And in general, Temptation, meaning by this Word, the lesser Allurements the Wrong and Difficulties in the Discharge of our Duty, as well as the greater ones, Temptation, I say, as such and of every Kind and Degree, as it calls forth some virtuous Efforts, additional to what would otherwise have been wanting, cannot but be an additional Discipline and Improvement of Virtue, as well as Probation of it in the other Senses of that Word '. So that the very fame Account is to be given, why the Evidence of Religion should be left in such a Manner, as to require, in Some, an attentive, follicitous, perhaps painful. Exercise of their Understanding about it; as why Others should be placed in sach Circumstances, as that the Practice of its common Duties, after a full Conviction of the Truth of it, should require Attention, Sollicitude and Pains: Or, why appearing Doubtfulness should be permitted to afford Matter of Temptation to Some ; as why external Difficulties and Allurements should be permitted to afford Matter of Temptation to Others. The fame Account also is to be given, why Some should be exercised with od Part I. Ch. iv, and p. 152.


Temptations of both these kinds; as why O-CHA'po thers should be exercised with the latter in VI. such very high Degrees, as some have been, in particularly as the primitive Christians were.

ders many

Nor does there appear any Absurdity in supposing, that the speculative Difficulties in which the Evidence of Religion is involved, may make even the principal part of some Persons Trial. For, as the chief Temptations of the Generality of the World, are, the ordinary Motives to Injustice or unrestrained Pleasure; or to live in the Neglect of Religion from That Frame of Mind, which ren

Persons almost without Feeling as to any thing distant, or which is not the Object of their Senses : So there are other Perfons without this Shallowness of Temper, Persons of a deeper Sense as to what is invifible and future; who not only see, but have a general practical Feeling, that what is to come will be present, and that things are not less real for their not being the Objects of Sense; and who, from their natural Constitution of Body and of Temper, and from their external Condition, may have small Temtations to behave ill, small Difficulty in behaving well, in the common Course of Life. Now when these latter Persons have a distinct full Conviction of the Truth of Religion, without any possible Doubts or Difficulties,


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PART the Practice of it is to them unavoidable, uns II. less they will do a constant Violence to their Vown Minds; and Religion is scarce any more

a Discipline to Them, than it is to Creatures in a State of Perfection. Yet these Persons may possibly stand in Need of moral Discipline andExe rcise in a higher Degree, than they would have by such an easy Practice of Religion. Or it may be requisite, for Reasons unknown to us, that they should give some farther Manifestation what is their moral Character, to the Creation of God, than such a Practice of it would be. Thus in the great Variety of religious Situations in which Men are placed, what constitutes, what chiefly and peculiarly constitutes, the Probation, in all Senses, of some Persons, may be the Difficulties in which the Evidence of Religion is involved: and their principal and diftinguished Trial, may be, how they will be have under and with Respect to these Difficulties. Circumstances in Mens Situation in their temporal Capacity, analogous in good Measure to This respecting Religion, are to be observed. We find some Persons are placed in such a situation in the World, as that their chief Difficulty with regard to Conduct, is not the Doing what is prudent when it is known; for this, in numberless Cases, is as easy as the contrary: but to fome the princi

• p. 152

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pal Exercise is, Recollection and being upon CHAP.
their Guard against Deceits, the Deceits sup- VI.
pose of those about them ; against false Ap-m
pearances of Reason and Prudence. To Per-
Tons in some Situations, the principal Exercise
with respect to Conduct, is, Attention in or-
der to inform themselves what is proper,
what is really the reasonable and prudent Part
to act.

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But as I have hitherto gone upon Suppofition, that Mens Diffatisfaction with the Evidence of Religion is not owing to their Neglects or Prejudices; it must be added, on the other hand, in all common Reason, and as what the Truth of the Case plainly requires fhould be added, that such Diffatisfaction poffibly may be owing to those, possibly may be Mens own Fault. For,

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If there are any Persons, who never set themselves heartily and in earnest to be informed in Religion: if there are any, who secretly wish it may not prove true; and are less attentiye to Evidence than to Difficulties, and more to Objections than to what is said in answer to them: thefe Persons will scarce be thought in a likely Way of seeing the Evidence of Religion, though it were most certainly true, and capable of being ever so fully proved. If any accustom themselves to

con fider

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