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PART consider this Subject usually in the Way of

II. Mirth and Sport: if they attend to Forms
w and Representations and inadequate Manners

of Expression, instead of the real Things in-
tended by them : ( for Signs often can be no
more then inadequately expressive of the
things fignified :) or if they substitute hu-
man Errors, in the Room of divine Truth :
Why may not all

, or any of these things,
hinder fome Men from seeing that Evidence,
which really is seen by Others; as a like Turn
of Mind, with respect to Matters of com-
mon Speculation and Practice, does, we find
by Experience, hinder them from attaining
That Knowledge and right Understanding, in
Matters of common Speculation and Practice,
which more fair and attentive Minds attain
to? And the Effect will be the same, whe,
ther their Neglect of seriously considering the
Evidence of Religion, and their indirect Be-
haviour with regard to it, proceed from meer
Carelessness, or from the grosser Vices; or
whether it be owing to this, that Forms and
figurative Manners of Expression, as well as
Errors, administer Occasions of Ridicule,
when the Things intended, and the Truth it-
self, would not. Men may indulge a ludi-
crous Turn so far as to lose all Sense of Con-
duct and Prudence in worldly Affairs, and
even, as it seems, to impair their Faculty of
Reason And in general, Levity, Careles-


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ness, Passion, and Prejudice, do hinder us CHAP.
from being rightly informed, with respect to VI.
common things: And they may, in like Mann
ner, and perhaps in some farther providential
Manner, with respect to moral and religious
Subjects: may hinder Evidence from

laid before us, and from being seen when it is.
The Scripture f does declare, that every one
hall not understand. And it makes no Dif-
ference, by what providential Conduct, this
comes to pass: Whether the Evidence of
Christianity was, originally and with Design,

and left so, as that those who are defirous of evading moral Obligations, should not see it; and that honeft-minded Persons should: Or, Whether it comes to pass by any other Means.

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Farther : The general Proof of natural Religion and of Christianity, does, I think, lie Level to common Men; even those, the

and xi. 25.

f Dan. xii. 10.
See also Il. xxix. 13, 14,

Matt. vi.

and xiii. 11, 12. Job. ii. 19. Joh. v. 44. 1 Cor. ii. 14. and 2 Cor. iv. 4. 2 Tim. ii. 13. and That affectionate, as well as authoritative Admonition, lo very many Times inculcated, He that hath Ears to hear, let him hear. Grotius faw so strongly the thing intended in these and other Passages of Scripture of the like Sense, as to say, that the Proof given us of Christianity was less than it might have been, for this very Purpose: Ui ita Sermo Evangelii tanquam lapis effet Lydius ad quem ingenia fanabilia explorarentur. De Ver. R. C. L. 2, towards the End.

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PART greatest Part of whose Time, from Child

II. hood to Old-age, is taken up with provimding, for themselves and their Families, the

common Conveniencies perhaps Necessaries
of Life: those, I mean, of this Rank, who
ever think at all of asking after Proof or at-
tending to it. Common Men, were they as
much in Earnest about Religion, as about
their temporal Affairs, are capable of being
convinced upon real Evidence, that there is a
God who governs the World: and they feel
themselves to be of a moral Nature, and ac-
countable Creatures. And as Christianity
intirely falls in with this their natural Sense
of Things; so they are capable, not only of
being persuaded, but of being made to fee,
that there is Evidence of Miracles wrought
in Attestation of it, and many appearing
Completions of Prophecy. But though this
Proof is real and conclufive, yet it is liable to
Objections, and may be run into Difficul
ties; which, however, Persons who are ca-
pable, not only of talking of, but of really
seeing, are capable also of seeing through:
i. e. not of clearing up and answering them,
so as to satisfie their Curiosity, for of such
Knowledge we are not capable with respect
to any one Thing in Nature; but capable of
seeing that the Proof is not lost in these Dif-
ficulties, or destroyed by these Objections.



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But then a thorough Examination into Reli- CHAP. gion, with regard to these Objections, which VI. cannot be the Business of every Man, is a m Matter of pretty large Compass, and, from the Nature of it, requires fome Knowledge, as well as Time and Attention; to see, how the Evidence comes out, upon balancing one thing with another, and what, upon the whole, is the Amount of it. Now if Persons who have picked up these Objections from Others, and take for granted they are of Weight, upon the Word of those from whom they received them, or, by often retailing of them, come to see or fancy they see them to be of Weight; will not prepare themselves for such an Examination, with a competent Degree of Knowledge; or will not give that Time and Attention to the Subject, which, from the Nature of it, is necessary for attaining such Information : in this Case, they must remain in Doubtfulness, Ignorance or Error; in the same way as they must, with regard to common Sciences and Matters of common Life, if they neg. lect the necessary Means of being informed in them.

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But still perhaps it will be objected, that
if a Prince or common Master were to send
Directions to a Servant, he would take Care,
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Part that they should always bear the certain

II. Marks, who they came from, and that their w Sense should be always plain: so as that

there should be no poffible Doubt, if he could help it, concerning the Authority or Meaning of them.

Now the proper Answer to all this kind of Objections is, that, wherever the Fallacy lies, it is even certain we cannot argue thus with respect to Him, who is the Governor of the World : and particularly that he does not afford us such Information, with respect to our temporal Affairs and Interest, as Experience abundantly shews. However, there is a full Answer to this Objection, from the very Nature of Religion. For the Reason why a Prince would give his Directions in this plain Manner, is, that he absolutely desires luch an external Action Thould be done, without concerning himself with the Motive or Principle upon which it is done : i.e. he regards only the external Event, or the thing's being done; and not at all, properly speaking, the Doing of it, or the Action. Whereas the whole of Morality and Religion consisting merely in Action itself, there is no Sort of Parallel between the Cases. But if the Prince be supposed to regard only the Action ; i. e. only to desire to exercise, or in any Sense prove, the Understanding or


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