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The Author's Farewel. 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 less 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 amiss, 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 a forcaid, for the introduction or support of pomvous ceremonies, particular religious parties
, nd the like ; this does not seem alike fuitble to, and worthy of the supreme God; ecause pompous ceremonies, religious facons, &c. are generally rather subversive į than subfervient to virtue and true re
The Author's Farewel.
35 WHAT purpofes the Mahometan revelation is, or is calculated to be, subfervient to, or what arguments and evidences it's votaries have to produce for the support of it's divine character, I know not: and therefore, as I have not whereon to ground this conclusion, viz. that the Mahometan revelation is divine; fo I have not whereon to conclude the contrary; nor does it appear to be a matter of concern to me, whether it be one, or the other of these.
As to the want of miracles, with respect to the Mahometan revelation, it does not appear, to me, to be a negative proof that such revelation is not divine. The Deity is at liberty, when he gives a revelation, whether miraculous power shall attend it, and be preient with it, or not; and, as we cannot be certain that God has tied himself to this rule, viz, that, whenever he gives a revelation, miraculous
power shall always attend the promulgation of it; therefore, the want of miracles cannot be a proof that a revelation is not divine; nor do I know whether the advocates for the Mahometan revelation have any miracles to appeal to, as evidences of it's divine original. . To say, that miracles are a proper fence and security against
nt, though the man continues the same as before, as the morality of his affections and actions : perhaps he good man, perhaps a bad man, and accordingly is roved or disapproved of by his maker ; his conversion king no alteration in the case, except it makes an ration for the better in him; by making him a better 2; and therefore, fuch conversion is not be beafted
nor gloried in.
delufion and imposition, is, in my opinion, groundlessly urged; because miracles, or the pretence of them, (which, perhaps, persons at a distance either of time or place cannot easily and with certainty distinguish one from the other) these answer the contrary purpose, as they become a plausible pretext to that delusion and imposition which is, or has been grounded upon them ; in which it is allowed, at least by Protestants, that the church of Rome has been abundantly fruitful. Were miracles to be admitted as proper evidences of a divine character, then, as the pretence of them is most easy, and is always at hand, when any thing favourable offers that will countenance such pretence ; fo, to prove them cheats
be exceeding difficult, in a multitude of cases. And, as the supposition, of a divine character being annexed to a revelation, carries such weight with it as to command the regard of those who go seriously into the belief of it; so, the admitting miracles to be a proper ground for such belief is most hazardous; and, indeed, is of dangerous confiquence, as it opens a wide door to religious frauds and impofitions, the grounds of which the bulk of mankind are not difpoled, nor, perhaps, well qua3.
lified carefully to examine ; fo that the pretence miracles seems to be a proper foundation for the building religious cheats upon, and which the bulk of the people are in great danger of being betrayed by. Besides, a just and proper sense of the moral character of the Deity, by which alone the divine conduct can with certainty be judged of, is a much better ground and security against delusion and imposition, at least all that is burtful; and may with much more safety be relied on, than miracles can possibly be. Nevertheless, though we, at this distance, may not have whereon to ground this conclusion, viz. that the Mabometan revelation is divine; nor, perhaps, whereon to ground the contrary; yet, the pretence of the propriety and fitness of a divine interposition, at that time, seems as plausible, perhaps, as most other pretences of that kind. The Christian sect, at that time, had, in some men's opinions, greatly corrupted natural religion ; or, at least, a great number of Christians, at that time, dissented from the rest of the world in what fome esteem to be a fundamental article of natural religion, viz. the unity of God; by paying their highest respect to a treble
Deity; that is, to a Deity compounded of three distinct individual intelligences or persons, whose complex idea is exprest by the term Trinity. For, though the doctrine of a trine or treble Deity was not maintained by all Christians ; yet, as great contests took place with regard to the number of persons that constitute the supreme God; so, I apprehend that the bulk of the people, at least the most powerful, carried it for å treble Deity. And, indeed, at that time, it was not very likely that the matter would stop here, there being rather a great deal of danger of their proceeding farther, by their adding to, and placing another person in the God. head, viz. the Virgin Mary; and thereby of multiplying a treble into a quarudple Deity. The zeal and piety of those times ran to a great length in favour of the Virgin Mary; insomuch that they gave her the stile and title of the mother of God, they pronounced her to be immaculate, they considered her as having authority over her son (who is the second person in the Trinity) by praying to her to lay her commands upon him, a multitude of prayers and other acts of devotion were directed to her; and nothing seemed wanting to compleat the exa
travagancy of their zeal, but the uniting or joining the person of the virgin to the other three, and thereby making her the jourth person in the Godhead, which would have conftituted a quadruple Deity. And as the human judgment was greatly misled at that time, or, at least, that was judged by some to be the case; so men's affections and actions became greatly vitiated thereby; insomuch that they not only with-held their hands from performing those kind offices, one to another, which the previous obligations of nature called for from them; but they also put off humanity itself, if I
fo speak, and became beafts of prey to each other; the spirit of love, as it were, ceahng to be the characteristic of a Christian, by a spirit of malice and ill-will's taking place of it. For as, at that time, disputes and controversies on the fore-mentioned subject took place; so the disputants did not bear with, and forbear one another in love, but, on the contrary, they fell foul one of another, and that not only by Nander and defamation, but also by acts of violence and cruelty. Now, whether, and how far the Mahometan revelation was a proper remedy for the aforesaid evils, if they may be so called ;