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1. THEN the Divine Authority of the
Holy Scriptures is pointed out to us in these Words ; All Scripture is given by Inspiration of God.
THAT there is a God, and that God is to be worshipped, are Principles which in clearing up this Article must be taken for granted ; and then it is a most necessary Inference, That He must be worship'd in such a Way as is most agreeable to his Nature and Will. Now it is very notorious, that Man is of himself unable to form any regular System of Divine Worship; for if we would certainly know the Power of Human Faculties in this respect, we must form our Judgment of them from the Discoveries which were made in Religious Matters during the Times of Paganism. There were among the Heathen, Men of equal Abilities, Application and Integrity to any that have ever appear’d in Life ; who labour’d, by searching to find out God, but cou'd not find him out to any tolerable degree of Perfection.
True indeed it is, we can now by many conclusive Chains of Reasoning carry up Things to the first Cause ; and represent the Almighty under Characters more worthy so glorious a Being ; but then the Light vouchsafed by the Holy Scriptures it is, that hath enlarged our Views and directed them aright ; hath given our Thoughts a free Scope ; hath presented many new and bright Objects to our Understanding ; and in all respects hath encreased our Knowledge and Capacity of Improvement in Religious Truths. It is therefore very unfair, to magnify the present Strength of Human Reason, in prejudice to Divine Revelation, because from Revelation, such its Strength was derived unto it ; and in this respect likewise it is that the Light of the Gospel jbineth in darkness,although the darkness comprehendeth it not. Now if we have receiv'd, as the Apostle argues upon another occasion, Wherefore do we boast, as though we had not received ? And to employ what we have receiv'd against that from which we did receive it, is the same profane piece of In
B 4 gratitude, gratitude, as the robbing the Temple by the Light which the Altar affords us.
If unaslisted Nature cou'd have struck out any significant Discoveries in Religiont, the Heathen World wou'd certainly have produced them : But it is pitiable to observe, that after their laboured Searches and Researches, they were never able to come to any thing certain and conclusive about it ; and that the Whole of their Divine Knowledge was full of Error, Darkness and Perplexity : This was the Case even of those who were endued with the most enlighten’d Minds, and the most exalted Apprehensions of Things : But if we consider the Divinity which commonly prevail'd among them ; the many impious Fooleries, with which they debased the Nature ; the many carnal Absurdities, wherewith they profaned the Worship of the Deity, give us a mean and locking Prospect of mere Natural Rcafon, and necessarily bring us to this Conclusion, That Man does absolutely want some express Revelation of God's Will, in order 10 worfhip him in an acceptablc Manner.
It may be observ'd here that God did never indeed leave himself entirely without Witness : The Works of the Creation, and the Goodness of Providence are so far sufficient to declare his Glories, that they will render, obstinate Offenders without excuse ; but they are not able to make us wife unto Salvation; because many Truths which are necessary to Salvation, could never be discover'd this way; and what. ever Truths are thus discover'd, are, at the best, discover'd but very imperfectly.
FARTHER yet; The fame Reason which Shews the Necessity of an express Revelation in general, holds equally strong for a written one ; because the same Corruptions of our Nature, which prevent the Light of Reason shining forth in its full Strength and Clearness, wou'd likewise soon extinguish the Light of Revelation, unless it was made, by some means or other, permanent and perpetual; and that can be done only, as we know of, three Ways ; by continual fresh Communications with the Almighty; by Tradition ; or by Writing. Now such immediate Communications with the Almighty, if
they were held by every particular Person, wou'd require a continual unnecessary working of Miracles ; because all those Communications are miraculous : If they were intended to over-rule our Wills, they wou'd destroy the Freedom of them ; if they were intended only to enlighten our Understandings, that might sufficiently be done in another and more simple manner ; if such Communications were held only with some particular Persons, they wou'd lay Mankind open to wonderful Delusions; many false Prophets wou'd be continually arising, who wou'd deceive many ; Enthusiasm wou'd swallow up every thing of solid Virtue ; every sanguine Innovator would set up for an inspired Preacher of Righteousness, and confound the World with their Instructions so much, as to leave the Way to Happiness even more uncer. tain than if there was no Revelation at all. Again, Tradition is of all other the most impure and uncertain Conveyance of Truth ; in the Affairs of common Life, Matters of Fact, by being carried only through a few hands, will be so diversified, that they would not be known again to