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particular, so they invalidate it in no other. Which is the Answer that the Christians anciently return'd to the Enemies of Religion, when they made this Objetion against it.

Let us follow the plain, the known, and confess'd Duties of Religion ; Humility, Temperance, Righteousness, and Charity, and when once we have no Temptations to wish Religion untrue, upon the account of the plain Precepts and Directions of it, we shall never suspect it to be fo, by reason of any Controversies in it. For if Men will impartially consider things; that Religion which has now for so many Ages stood out all the Assaults and Attempts, which Enemies from without, and Parties within, could make against it, has approv'd it self much better and more gloriously, than it could have done, if there never had been either Heresies or Schisms. Let us therefore hold fast the Profession of our Faith without Wavering, being assured, that the Gates of Hell, that is, all the Power and Stratagems of Satan, shall never be able to prevail against the Church of Christ, but shall only serve to add to its Victories, and adorn its Triumphs. The Malice, O Lord, and Fierceness of Man shall turn to thy Praise : And the Fierceness of them shalt thou reo frain, Pfal. lxxvi. 10.

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CH A P. XXXV. Though all Objections could not be answerd, yet

this would be no just Cause to reject the Authoa rity of the Scriptures.

A

LL Obje&tions, which can with any Colour or

Pretence be alledg'd, have been consider'd, and answer'd, by divers Men of great Learning and Judgment; and several Objections, which have made most. noise in the World, as that about the Capacity of the Ark, and others, have been demonstrated to be groundless and frivolous. But though all Difficulties could not be accounted for, yet this would be no just or fufficient Cause, why we should reject the Scriptures; because Objections for the most part are impertinent to the purpose for which they were design'd, and do not at all affeat the Evidence which is brought in proof of the Scriptures ; and if they were pertipent, yet unless they could confute that Evidence, they ought not to determine us against them.

He that with an honest and sincere Desire to find out the Truth or Falshood of a Revelation , enquires into it, should first consider impartially what can be alledg’d for it, and afterwards consider the Objections rais'd against it, that so he may compare the Arguments in proof of it, and the Objections together, and determine himself on that fide, which appears to have most Reason for it. But to insist upon particular Objections, collected out of difficult Places of Scripture, (though they would likewise obferve the Answers that have been given, which few of our Objectors have patience to do, but run away with the Objection without staying for an Answer) I say, to alledge particular Objections, without attending to the main Grounds and Motives, which induce a Belief of the t

Truth

Truth of the Scriptures, is a very deceitful way of Arguing: Because it is not in the least improbable, that there may be a true Revelation, which may have great Difficulties in it. But if sufficient Evidence be produced to convince us, that the Scriptures are indeed God's Word, and there be no proof on the contrary to invalidate that Evidence; then all the Obje&tions besides, that can be raised, are but Objections, and no more. For if those Arguments, by which our Religion appears to be True, remain still in their full Force, notwithstanding the Objections, and no positive and direct Proof be brought, that they are insufficient, we ought not to reject those Arguments, and the Conclusions deduced from them upon the Account of the Objections, but to reject the Objections for the fake of those Arguments ; because if those cannot be disproved, all the Objections, which can be thought of, must proceed from some Mistake. For when I am once assured of the Truth of a thing, by direct and positive Proof, I have the same assurance, that all Obje&tions against it must be vain and false, which I have, that that thing is true ; because every thing must be falfe, which is opposite to Truth, and nothing but that which takes off the Arguments, by which any thing is proved to be True, can ever prove it falfe : But all Objections must be false themselves, or insignificant to the Purpose ; for which they are alledged, if the Evidence for the Truth of that, against which they are brought, cannot be disproved, that is, if the Thing, against which they are brought, be True.

To shew this in Particulars. If a Man muster up never so many Inconsistencies, as he thinks, in the Scriptures, yet unless he be as well assured, at least, that these which he calls Inconsistencies, cannot be in any Book of Divine Revelation ; as he may be, that the Scriptures are of Divine Revelation, he cannot in Reafon reject their Authority. And to be assured of this, it must be considered, what is inconsistent with the Evidence whereby the Authority of the Scriptures is proved to us : For whatever is not inconsistent with this Evidence, cannot be inconsistent with their Authority. In like manner, as if a Màn should frame never so many Objections against the Opinion commonly received, that Casar himself wrote the Commentaries which go under his Name, and not Julius Celsus, or any other Author; unless he can overthrow the Evidence by which Cafar appears to be the Author of them, all his Objections will never amount to a Proof, that he was not the Author. If Archimedes or Euclide had used improper Language or Solecisms, would their Demonstrations have had the less Weight with those, by whom they had been understood ? Or, if they had subjoined an Historical Account of the Discovery and Progress of the Mathematicks, and had made Mistakes in the Historical Part, would the Demonstrative Part have been the less Demonstration ? And does not that Man make himself ridiculous, who, with Epicurus and Hobbs, preténds by Reason to overthrow Mathematical Axioms and Theorems, which he cannot understand ? Upon the same grounds ; if the Substance of what the Apostles deliver be true, it will be never the less Truth, tho' the Expression were not always proper, and the Circumstances of Time and Place in things less material had been mistaken, and many things should be written which are hard to be understood.

It is very possible for God to reveal things, which we may not be able to comprehend ; and to enact Laws, especially concerning the Rites and Ceremonies enjoined a People so many Ages past, the Reasons whereof we may not be able fully to understand ; and it is very possible likewise, that there may be great Difficulties in Chronology, and that the Text may in divers places have a different Reading: And tho’ all these things have been cleared, to the satisfaction

of

of reasonable Men, by several Expositors, yet let us suppose at present, to gratifie these Objectors, (and this will gratifie them, if any thing can do it,) that the Laws are utterly unaccountable, that the Difficulties in Chronology are no way to be adjusted, that the divers Readings are by no means to be reconciled; yet what doth all this prove? That Moses wrought no Miracles? That the Children of Israel and the Ægyptians were not Witnesses to them? That what the Prophets foretold did not come to pass? That our Saviour never rose from the Dead, and that the Holy Ghost did not descend upon the Apostles ? Or, that any thing is contained in the Scriptures repugnant to the Divine Attributes, or to the natural Notions of - Good and Evil ? Doth it prove any thing of all this?

or, can it be pretended to prove it ? If it cannot, (and nothing is more, plain than that it cannot,) then all the Evidence produced in proof of the Authority of the Scriptures stands firm, notwithstanding all this mighty noise of the Obscurity, and the Inconsistency, and the Uncertainty of the Text of the Scriptures. And the next enquiry naturally will be, not how the Scriptores can be from God, if these things be to be found in them, (for it is already proved that they are from God, and therefore this must from henceforth be taken for granted, till it can be disproved, but the only Enquiry will be, how these Passages are to be explained, or reconciled with other Places,

For let us consider this way of Reasoning, which is made use of to disprove the Truth and Authority of the Scriptures in other things, and try whether we are wont to reason thus in any case, but that of Religion, and whether we should not be ashamed of this way of arguing in any other case. How little is it that we throughly understand in natural Things, and yet how seldom do we doubt of the Truth and Reality of them, because we may puzzle and perplex our selves in the Explication of thein? For instance, we

difcern

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