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nate, and

Fesus Christ was a messenger sent from God, to make known his will, touching the true way to God's favour and eternal life? or whether I do not only withhold my afsent to this propofition, but also believe the contrary? I say, I apprehend, this must be meant, because, otherwise, those appellations, with regard to me, are most loose and indetermi

may be applied to any subject. So that until the subject is fixed to which those terms, viz. believer and unbeliever, are applied, I am not a judge for inyfelf, whether I am one, or another of these. And tho' it would probably be a vain attempt to try to fatisfy such inquisitors, seeing, instead of satisfying, I should, perhaps, rather offend them ; yet, I will shew my readers, because posably it may be of use to them, what mny Jentiments are with respect to the points before mentioned, as also on many other subjects; together with the reasons, upon which those sentiments are grounded. And, in the doing of this, I shall (as I think I ought) strictly pursue truth, without rc{pect to perjans or things, and without

paying a partial regard to any system of religion, whethes it be considered as christian, or otherwise ; and accordingly, shall treat

every

every question with plainness and freedom, it being, in my opinion, a piece of justice which is due to all subjects, that, if we make an inquiry about them, we should do it with plainness, fairness, and impartiality ; and introduce every thing that makes against, as well as for, the question in debate, whether that question has been generally admitted, or not; this being the most likely way to come at truth, and therefore, it is not likely that truth will be a sufferer by it. And, indeed, there is the more reason for a firiet and impartial examination of such points as have met with a general acceptance; because that very thing, viz. their having been generally admitted, is too, too apt to prejudice us in their favour. Nor shall I (I trust) pay a partial regard to any opinion I nyself may have been of, at any time past, with regard to any question I may have given my judgment upon ; but shall consider it with the same freedom and impartiality, as if I had not given any such judgment. For, as I then gave my opinion according to the evidence that appeared, and as it was then

present to my mind; so I fall do the same now, how widely soever I may differ from myself thereby

BUT

But then, I do not pretend to any extraordinary illuminations, or divine impreffions, as having been made upon my mind, because I do not apprehend I have ever experienced any such thing; and therefore, I have no other way, in which I can pursue truth, but that of reasoning and argumentation only. And tho' there have been, as well in this, as in former ages, many who have pretended to have been favoured with divine impressions, and thereby with extraordinary illuminations; yet, I think, they are very unsafe guides; not only because I cannot discover any principle, any premises, from which we may conclude, with certainty, that their pretences are well grounded; but also because these pretenders have, with regard to their doctrines, greatly differed among themselves, infomuch that what some have held forth and taught as divine truth, others have exploded as pernicious error. Besides, as there is in man a discerning power, which renders him capable of distinguishing betwixt good and evil, truth and error, (tho', through inattention, and a partial knowledge of the case, he is liable to err in the use of it ;) so this power is of God; and that it is so, is as evident, and as certain, as that we

are,

are, because it plainly appears to be a part of our frame and constitution. And that this faculty was, by the Author of our beings, designed and intended to answer the purpose aforesaid, is as obvious, as that our eyes were given us to see withal ; whereas, I think, we cannot have equal certainty, that any impressions, inade upon our minds, are divine;

and therefore, the former must, from the nature of the thing, be a much. safer guide than the latter. And, as our discerning faculty is of God, and is planted in us, by him, to answer the aforesaid purpose ; lo; I doubt not, but that in an honest and careful use of it we shall render ourselves approveable to our Maker ; whereas, with regard to the impressions * that may be made upon our minds, it seems to me altogether rincertain, not only whether any

of them are divine, and consequently, whether we ought to be directed by them, but also whether we shall render ourselves approveable to God by following so uncertain a guide. However,

that * Some of those, who pretend to experience the special operations of the Deity upon their minds, do not call those operations divine impressions, but divine influence, which term is rather more unintelligible, as it's fenfe is urd. torminate in the present case; but then, whether the term influence is made use of for that reason, I am not a judge.

that I may set this matter in as clear a light as I can, I will suppose, that some ideas have been impressed upon my mind, of which I have indulged the pleasing thought, that the impression was divine ; this being supposed, the question is, what is there in the case for me fairly and rationally to ground the presumption upon, that the impression was divine? And, in order to give a satisfactory answer to this question, two things seem necessary to be enquired into, viz. First, What different circumsances may be supposed to attend impreffions, by which difference of circumstances one impression may be distinguished from another? Secondly, What are those circumstances, that are peculiar to divine impressions, by which they may be distinguished and cercainly known, from all other impressions, that may be made upon the mind? And, first, the enquiry is, what different circumstances may attend impressions, by which they may be distinguished one from another.

And here, I shall not take notice of all the trifling circumstances, that may be supposed to attend the case ; because, I think, that is needleis, and would look more like banter than

argument; but only cf such as are most material, or some of them, at least, in order to explain

the

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