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for though a divine character is annexed to it, yet it is not divine to me, 'till it's
promulgers have offered it to my confideration, and proved it to me to be so. I have already observed, that divine revelation is above or out of the ordinary course of nature, and, as such, we can have no previous ground to prefume or expect that there is or will be
any such thing; nor can we poffibly be under any previous obligation with regard to it; and therefore, we cannot be obliged to feek after it. To this I may add, that it seems a little preposterous for a man to bunt after a guide to his judgment and behaviour, when the author of his being has placed onę in his own breaft; especially if it be considered, that the guide he has muft be proper and sufficient to answer the purpofe aforesaid ; because, otherwise, the au. thor of nature, who is the most perfect intelligence and of the most boundless power, must have been greatly wanting to his own design ; to admit which is to cast great contempt upon the founder of this world; and if man bas such a guide, then, he cannot, furely, be obliged to hunt or seek after ano. ther. Besides, the Mahometan revelation is quite out of the reach of my enquiry, as
it was first promulged in a far distant country; and as it's votaries or advocates, who mast be fuppofed to be in the poffeffion of those arguments and evidences upon which it's divine character is grounded, and by which it is supported, these advocates are quite out of distance with regard to me; and thereby the fubje&t is out of the reach of my enquiry. And though there is, amongst us, a book, exposed to public view, called the Coran, which book is represented to be the Mahometan revelation ; yet, as I have no way to discover whether this book is a true copy of the revelation wrote and promulged by Mahomet, or whether it is allowed to be so by the disciples of that prophet; and as the arguments and evidences which the divine character of that revelation may be suppofed to be grounded upon are wanting ; therefore, the knowledge and perufal of that book (which I am a stranger to) can give but little satisfaction, with regard to the divine original of the Mahometan revelation. And were all these things within the compass of my power, then, at present, I cannot see any advantage I could reap from the enquiry, whether in the issue I was convinced of the divinity of the Mahometan, revelation,
or was convinced of the contrary. If, up: on enquiry, it should appear to me, that the aforesaid revelation is not divine, and that it must have been the produce of delufion or imposture ; the consequence is clear, that then all
labour would be loft ; fo that, in this view of the case, the enquiry would not turn to any good account to me. And, on the other side, suppose, upon enquiry, it should appear to me that the Mahometan revelation is divine ; then, the question is, what benefit can I reap from such conviction? If the revelation referred to could furnish me with such useful knowledge, or with a better rule of life, or with more powerful excitements to the practice of virtue and true religion, than at present I am in the poffeffion of, and thereby I should be made a wiser and a better man; then, I acknowledge that fuch conviction would be beneficial to me, in proportion to such improvement: but then, that this will be, or is any way likely to be the case, I cannot see the least probability of. If the issue of such conviction should be my conversion to Mahometanilim, and, in consequence thereof, I should quit one religious party, and be joined to another ; I should lay aside one form of ex
ternal religion, and make use of another ; this, I think, would be of very little more real benefit to me, than such a conviction and conversion as would lead me to change the colour of my clothes, by putting off a * and putting on a blue one in it's
* We read, in Aets ii. 24. Then they that received his word were baptized, and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. These three thousand people are usually considered as converts, and the question is, what that conversion consisted in? or what they were converted from, and to? If it consisted in a renovation of mind and life, in a change from vicious bad men to vertuous good men; then it was of the greatest consequence to them, as to the favour of God and their future safety ; because, without such conversion, as they were bad men, they would have fallen short of both; but, if that conversion consisted only in furnishing their minds with some speculative propositions, in changing their religious sentiments, in laying aside one form of external religion, and using another, or in quitting one religious party, and affociating with another, (which seems to have been the case of good Cornelius, Aets x. 2.) then, I think, such converfion mult have been of little consequence to them, as to God's favour and their future safety ; because, if they were virtuous good men, then these were secure to them without such conversion ; and if they were vicious bad men, then these were not in the least secured by it. He who feareth God and worketh righteouíness is accepted with him, (as Cornelius was before his conversion) whether he passes through any such conversion or not. When Papists, or Protestants, or any fećt of religionists, gain over a man from another religious party to their own, this is usually called conversion, as a man is converted to, or from Popery; which is considered as a matter of moVOL. II.
stead; of so little consequence, generally, are particular parties and particular forms of external religion to virtue and real piety, unless, perhaps, it be that one is lefs mischievous and hurtful than another.
When a general depravity takes place, then, indeed, it seems to be not at all below and unworthy of the supreme Deity, that he should kindly interpose, by a particular and special application of his power and providence, to reform what is amifs, and rightly to direct the understandings, the affections and the actions of men ; because in fo doing the great and ultimate end of the creation is promoted and carried on: but then, to interpose, as aforefaid, for the introduction or support of pompous ceremonies, particular religious parties, and the like ; this does not seem alike fuit. able to, and worthy of the fupreme God; because pompous ceremonies, religious factions, &c. are generally rather subversive of, than subfervient to virtue and true religion.
WHAT ment, though the man continues the same as before, as to the morality of his affections and actions : perhaps he is a good man, perhaps a bad man, and accordingly is approved or disapproved of by his maker ; his conversion making no alteration in the case, except it makes an alteration for the better in him; by making him a better man; and therefore, such conversion is not be boasted of, nor gloried in.