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Loyalty of a Servant; he would not always CHAP. give his Orders in such a plain Manner. VI. It may be proper to add, that the Will of God, respecting Morality and Religion, may be considered, either as absolute, or as only conditional. If it be absolute, it can only be thus, that we should act virtuously in such given Circumstances; not that we Mould be brought to act so, by his changing of our Circumstances. And if God's Will be thus absolute, then it is in our Power, in the highest and strictest Sense, to Do or to contradict his Will; which is a most weighty Consideration. Or His Will may be considered only as conditional, that if we act so and so, we shall be rewarded ; if otherwise, punished: of which conditional Will of the Author of Nature, the whole Constitution of it affords most certain Instances,
Upon the whole: that we are in a State of Religion necessarily implies, that we are in a State of Probation : and the Credibility of our being at all in such a State being admitted, there seems no peculiar Difficulty in supposing Our Probation to be, just as it is, in those Respects which are above objected against. There seems no Pretence, from the Reason of the thing, to say, that the
PART Trial cannot equitably be any thing, but
II. whether Persons will act suitably to certain m Information, or such as admits no Room
for Doubt ; so as that there can be no Danger of Miscarriage, but either from their not attending to what they certainly know, or from overbearing Patsion hurrying them on to act contrary to it. For, since Ignorance and Doubt afford Scope for Probation in all Senses, as really as intuitive Conviction or Certainty; and since the two former are to be put to the same Account, as Difficulties in Practice; Men's moral Probation may also be, whether they will take due Care to inform themselves by impartial Consideration, and afterwards whether they will act as the Case requires, upon the Evidence which they have, however doubtful. And this we find by Experience, is frequently our Probation, in our temporal Capacity. For, the Information which we want with Regard to our worldly Interests, is by no means always given us of Course, without any Care of our own. And we are greatly liable to Self-deceit from inward secret Prejudices, and .also to the Deceits of others. So that to be able to judge what is the prudent Part, often requires much and difficult Consideration,
. p. 56. 331, 334, 335,
Then Then after we have judged the very
best weCHAP. can, the Evidence upon which we must VI. act, if we will live and act at all, is perpetu-wo ally doubtful to a very high Degree. And the Conftitution and Course of the World in Fact is fuch, as that Want of impartial Confideration what we have to do, and venturing upon extravagant Courses because it is doubtful what will be the Consequence, are often naturally, i e. providentially, altogether as fatal, as Misconduct occasioned by heedless Inattention to what we certainly know, or disregarding it from overbearing Passion.
Several of the Observations here made, may well seem strange, perhaps unintelligible, to many good Men, but if the Persons for whose Sake they are made, think so; Persons who object as above, and throw off all Regard to Religion under Pretence of Want of Evidence; 1 desire Them to consider again, whether their thinking so, be owing to any thing unintelligible in these Observations, or to their own not having such a Sense of Religion and serious Sollicitude about it, as even their State of Scepticism does in all Reason require? It ought to be forced upon the Reflection of these Persons, that our Nature and Condition necessarily require us, in the daily Course of Life, to act upon
Part dence much lower than what is commonly cal
II. led probable; to guard, not only against what muwe fully believe will, but also agathist what
we think it supposeable may, happen ; and to engage in Pursuits when the Probability is greatly against Success, if it be credible, that possibly we may succeed in them.
C H A P.
Of the particular Evidence for
HE Presumptions against Revelation, CHAP.
and Objections against the general VII. Scheme of Christianity, and particular things in relating to it, being removed, there remains to be considered, What positive Evidence we have for the Truth of it: chiefly in Order to see, What the Analogy of Nature fuggests with regard to That Evidence, and the Objections against it: Or to see what is, and is allowed to be, the plain natural Rule of Judgment and of Action, in our temporal Concerns, in Cases where we have the same Kind of Evidence, and the same Kind of Objections against it, that we have in the Case before us.
Now in the Evidence of Christianity, there seem to be several things of great Weight, not reducible to the Head, either of Miracles, or the Completion of Prophecy, in the common Acceptation of the Words. But these two are its direct and fundamental Proofs : And those other things, however considerable