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STUDY TOSHEW THYSELF APPROVED UNTO GOD, A WORK-
MAN THAT NEEDETH NOT TO BE ASHAMED,RIGHTLY
THE THIRD EDITION.
IN TWO VOLUMES.
VOLUME THE SECOND
BRINTED FOR T. SCOLLICK, IN THE CITY-ROAD 3
AND, T, WILSON AND R. SPENCE, YORK.
HILOSOPHERS love to contrast the reli
gion of nature with that of revelation, and some of them ascribe superiority to the former. Christian ministers have much better reasons for ascribing it to the latter; and there are two, which deserve particular attention.
If we consider each as a body of science, and allow, revelation contains all the articles of information included in natural religion, and many more than the religion of nature ever knew, all necessary to the perfection of a system of theology, and all important to the felicity of man, it will follow, superior excellence belongs to revealed religion.
If we advert to the mode of communication peculiar to each, and grant, it is not enough in an univerfal religion to have a body of science, there must VOL. II.
be also an easy method of imparting it, it will follow, superiority is due to revelation. Nature is a speechless beauty, silently waiting till depraved man shall find leisure and inclination to be instructed by dumb signs, by signs, which even cul. tivated capacities find hard to understand, are not sure at any time they have understood at all, and never know when they have comprehended in the whole. Revelation is really and literally a voice, clear and expressive, speaking at sundry times, and in divers manners.
Shall I call it the mouth of nature? The wifest say, it is the voice of God! It was first delivered in audible sounds by the Creator himself to our first parents, it has been since uttered in his name by prophets, then by his Son, and after him by inspired apostles, and it has been repeated, explained, and enforced by a succession of publick preachers. By it, in all ages and coun. tries, the ignorant have been informed, the indolent aroused, the profane placed before a tribunal of justice, and brought to genuine repentance, the penitent led to a throne of mercy, where pardon was proclaimed, the doubtful directed, the wa. vering confirmed, the timid emboldened, the distressed comforted. What school of philosophy has wrought effeEts so beneficial to mankind as these? As, therefore, we prefer revelation on every other account, fo chiefly on this, its mode of tuition is all-sufficient, and at the same time the fimplest and easiest in the world. The things, that you have heard among many witnesses, the same commit to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also
. The argument for revelation, that arises from publick preaching, is defensible in every point of view, and as it regards the bulk of mankind it has
peculiar energy. Were we to allow, that natural religion was a science of God as perfect as that which revelation possesses, yet all the benefits of understanding it would be attainable by oply such as should have capacity and leisure, accuracy of observation, and justness of refetion. The poor and illiterate, the busy, the dissipated, and the dejected, the sick and the aged, thoughtless till sickness and age overtake them, the vigorous youth, in his career of fancied pleasure, the wretched malefactor, whom a dungeon brings to feel the want of religion; ah these, that is to say, the bulk of mankind, are deeply interested in a simple fort of system, which may be understood in a short time, and which, while it provides for the payment of all due honours to natural religion, makes provision also for plucking a criminal from the horrid jaws of yawning destruction. Such a system revelation is. In natural religion, it is the creator giving laws, the judge trying causes, and condemning criminals, and how cold is the consolation, that arises from these conjectures, It is posible he may pardon the guilty, and it is possible I may be the man! In revelation, it is the good shepherd, traversing the wilderness in anxious pursuit of a loft sheep, that hears and knows the shepherd's voice. It is the tender father, all melting with compassion, and flowing with tears, calling to the prodigal beggar, his son, to return from penury to felicity, from the company of brutes to the bosom of God. Best of beings! what delight to hear thy voice, even wrapped in the gloom of the darkest chicket, and wilfully buried in the blackness of impenetrable shade!