Sivut kuvina

SERM.IV. the Grace of God and his own Endeavours, ftand clear of all prefumptuous Sins, and much more of all evil Habits. I own that our Paffions are innocent in themselves, though they are often wrong in their Degree, being not very feldom difproportioned to the real Value of Things; very violent and exorbitant, where they ought to be moderate; and very moderate and remifs, where there is no eminent Danger of Excefs. I grant, that, though our Nature is degenerated, yet it is not intirely inverted, fo as to have no Relish for Goodness ; that we are not only capable of Virtue, but also of great Attainments therein; we may not only be virtuous, but even excel in Virtue.

Notwithstanding, there are plain Proofs that we are fallen Creatures, from the Perverseness of our Will, and the Weakness of our Understanding.

For no Creature could come originally from God's Hand, but what was perfect in it's Kind: No rational Creature can be perfect in his Kind, in whom there is a ftrong Propenfion to Vice, that is, to what is unreasonable, and a great Irregularity of the Appetites and Affections. Had Man continued fuch as he was at first formed; the

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

the Balance certainly must have been, at SERM.IV.
leaft, even, between the fenfitive and in-
tellectual Part in our Compofition, between
our Paffions and our Reafon: But that it
is not fo, is plain from this; that it is not
the Province of Wifdom to run into the
Arms of a Temptation, and boldly to grap-
ple with it; which when we do, we fel-
dom fail of being foiled in the Conflict.
But our Victory over Temptations is to de-
cline a Combat with them; and a confi-
derable Part of the Innocency, which is in
the World, may be owing to the Want of
Opportunities to commit Vice. There is a
Stock of Corruption in us, though fome-
times unfufpected by us, which often dif-
covers itself, as foon as there are fuitable
Objects to call it forth. Hence it is, that
few or none are to be trufted with abfolute
Power; because an unlimited Extent of
Power gives thofe vicious Inclinations their
full Play, which before were cramped and
confined within narrow Bounds. We do
not diftruft ourselves; because we know
not what is in ourselves. Many, who
would have faid in a private Capacity, Is
thy Servant a Dog, that he should do these
Things? have done the very Things in a

[ocr errors]

SERM.IV. public Sphere, which they heartily condemned before. So much Reason is there for that Prayer, Lord, deliver me from mySelf. He, that thinketh be ftandeth, let bim take heed, left he fall; then most especially, when he thinketh he standeth. For Security is our Ruin: And the Minute we are off our Guard, we may be furprized into Vice by a powerful Tempter, who knows each Avenue to the Soul, or by our own Paffions, the most powerful Tempters of All. And he, who is now virtuous, is no more fecure of continuing fo, without much Circumfpection, and the Grace of God; than he, who is in perfect Health, is fafe against every Attack of Infection.

We fee the wifeft of Men, in their unguarded Hours, betrayed into unaccountable Follies; we startle at it, and cry out, Lord, what is Man! Why, a Being, who, without God's upholding Power, would the next Moment fink into Nothing; and, without the Affistances of his Spirit, would be a Sinner, that is, worse than Nothing ; then always betraying his Weakness, when he depends prefumptuously upon his own Strength; a Child ever in this Respect, that, if left to himself, without the Guidance

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

pacity: Their Speech and Idiom never be- SERM II. wraying them, to be of a different. Country, but every where adapted to that Dialect and Manner of Expreffion, which was pe culiar to the Jews. If then the Scriptures were not of that Antiquity, which they lay Claim to; then it would have been morally impoffible, for a Writer of a later Date; to hit critically the Air of Antiquity, to hit the diftinguishing Marks, and appropriate Characteristicks of the Time and Nation, in which they were pretended to be compofed, and to be confiftent, and all of a Piece, from firft to laft, throughout feveral Performances of a confiderable Length, without being ever off his Guard, without once dropping the Mafk, without once giving Way to Phrafes, that were in Vogue, when he himself lived, Phrafes, that would be ever uppermoft in his Mind, and preffing for a Vent; without any Allufions to Customs, that were not then in Being; without any Miftakes in Chronology, Geography, and the History of those Times.

It is thus, that all Forgeries have been laid open, and none of them have been able to stand the Teft of Criticism; Something there was in their Stile or Matter VOL. II. X Something

[ocr errors]

SERM. III. Something in the Nature and Texture of the Books, that betrayed them. And it is easier for a Perfon of Learning, Sagacity, and Judgment, to difcover the Age of an Author, than it is for a Connoiffeur to dif cover that of a Medal, Coin, Picture, or Statue. It remains then, that the Scriptures are as ancient, as they pretend to be.

And if fo, then they must be true; otherwise they could not have been received: For as they contain a punctual circumftantial Relation of public Facts, with the Time when, the Places where, and the Perfons before whom they were performed, the Authors of them could not have put upon the World fuch a continued Series of marvellous unparalleled Actions, faid to be done, in the Eye of the World, when they must be fresh in their Memories, without being detected,

It is certain, that St. Paul's Epistles (all except that to the Hebrews) ever were looked upon as genuine, by uncontroverted written Tradition, from the Time in which they were published in a continued Train of Vouchers, down to the present Age; the very judaizing Chriftians, who would not be determined by his Authority, as an Enemy

« EdellinenJatka »