Bates - HP BX5200 B3 1700

Cbriftian Religionproved by Reafon. ~ knowledg'd and reverenc'd, lov'd and prais'd by intelligent Creatures. This is a NatuChap· '1 . ral Dmy, to which Mankind with an unforc'd confentagrees. F?r, as Honour in thegc- ~ neral is the homage paid to confpicuous Excellencies, and fpwally to beneficent Vcrtues ; fo R.elig1on, that is rhe highefr Honour, is jufily due to God the mofi Sovereign Being in all P<rfections, and our Sovereign Benefallor. And 'tis equally clear that the Happinefs of Man depends on Rel igion. for if God regards the Allions of Men, not te i>ave a naked fp,culative knowledge of them, but with hn Eye of Provrdence and Judgment; if He will accept and reward ourlfervices not ~s profirabletoHrm, bm as the jnO: expreflions of our love, thankf~1lnefs hnd obedience t0 Him, 'rjs reqnifite our prime 'ca re !hould be to ferve Him. In th is the greatefl Duty and fupream Intuefl of Men are inviolably tmited: For what obligation can poflibly be equal to that of p!eafing our Maker and Preferver ? And what IS comparable to the Jnrerefl of Eternity? From hence there is a general inclination in Men to Wortbip the Deity, imprefl:from the Amhor of Nature ; bm the ways are diverfe. Religion changes its fhape in itveral Countries, and the Riw that are obferved by fome Nations as Sacred, are rejelled by others as Impious, or Vam. Now, in this .va~iery of Religions, and every one contrary to the other, 'tis nccelfary to confider whrch JS that fpecial Way of ferving God that is only p!eafing to Him. If a Traveller be diflralled between feveral Ways, he will enquire which le:-s ds to h1s ]ourneys end, and not go on wnh uncerrainty. And is n not infiniteJy rea[onable to do that in the mofi imponant Affai r, which any Perfon will do in the moft ordinary ? To be indifferent in a matter fo deeply concerning us, is.prodigiousabove all wonder. For if ~he means we ufe to obtain the Favom of God, provoke his Anger our Mifery is r~n?eclllefs. But alas! no rafhnefs is fo common, as that of Mens pre~ ferring one Rel1g10n b~f~re another. . . How many f:1 lfe RehgJOnS arc defended by whole Nations Wtth that Zeal as if they were the mofl alfured Perfons? When the foundations of tbeir Belief and Adherence are fo weak, that did rhey call Reafon to Counfel, they mufl be convinc'd of their Errors. They arc led by vain _refpeCts to their Progenitors from whom their Religion is deriv'd ; and what they recetve at firfl without difcerning, they ne,•er diflrull; As if the firf\Inftrullions were always true. They refign up their Judgments to their Princes : And if humane Authority were a fufficienr motive in this cafe, then every Religion will be faving in the Country where 'tis eflablifh'd by Law. Nay the Chriflian Religion, tho' !hining wirh an extraordinary Juflre, which jullifies it to every one that will but open his Eyes to confider it, yet is as injudicioully and carelelly received, as the vainefl Religion in the World. Innumerable are Chriflians in Title, wirhout any folid conviilion in their Miods, er divine change in their Hearts, the effells of its Truth and Goodnefs. They are Difciples of Chrifl, as the T•rA.! are of Mah01mt, by the foie impreffion of Example. In the difcuffing tl-is matter I !hall proceed upon fuch Princrples as are evident to the humane Underflanding. T is a common Principle acknowledged by all Men, That God alone if to prefcribc that ffay and Order t1f Service wherein He 1vill be Honoured. For this Rea{(m thofe who in any Nation introduc'd a Form of Religion, always pretended to liave Divine Direction fo r it. Now that God has fignified his Will to Men in this mofl impdrrant Matter, 'tis mofl reafonable to believe. The 11 Philofopher obferves that U A,;fl. ,w,"l· fuch is the l'rovidence of Nature, that the mofl nece!f."y Arts for the fnpport of Life ate eafi ly learnt of all. In the rudefl Ages Men were ski lful to cultivate the Earth, to govern th<ir Flocks, to drefs their Provifions for Food. But thofe Arts that were only for delight, not abfo!utely ufeful ; as Mufick, )Jainting, Perfuming, Emboirdery, C.. c. required more S.udy and Skill, and therefore were more Modern. And if the Divine Providence has fuch a tender Care ofMan, as to make the knowledge of fuch things ea fie os are requifite for the Temporal Life, 'tis reafon to believe he has not left him deflit ute of rhofemeans that are necelfary for the obtaining Eternal Life. Now that the Chri11ian Re~ igion alone is true, wjll fully appear, ~ · 1. By comparing itwirh other Religions, thatupontria!are convinc'dof open falfity, or that they are infinitely excelled by the Chriflian in thofe things wherein they have ·any refemb! ance or degrees of Truth andGoodnefs. o. By confidering it direllly, as to itsintrinfick Excellencies, and thofc External Supernatural Operations, that are rhe exprefs Charallers of God's Hand, which afford an infallible teflimony of his approving it. . Before the coming of Chrifl into the World there were two forts of Religions, Gentilifm, and Judaifm. The fir{\ is utterly excluded upon the account of its grofs and palpable contra riety tO the Principles offound Reafon. 1. By a fundamental error in theObjell of WorOrip. Idolatry then fpread through all the Regions under both the Hemifpheres. Now 'tis evident by 1\.eafon there is but one true