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such as might be expected among men of the more incult wits, and barbarous education; there is nothing delivered methodically or rationally, with any evidence of solid understanding; there is nothing but the most nauseous repetition, an hundred times over, of many simple, incoherent speeches, in the dialect of a drunken man; sometimes against idolaters, and sometimes against Christians, for calling Christ God; which, all set together, seem not to contain, in the whole Koran, so much solid, useful sense and reason, as one leaf of some of those philosophers whom he opposeth, however his time had delivered' him from their idolatry, and caused him more to approach the christian faith.
2. And who can think it any probable sign, that he is the prophet of truth, whose kingdom is of this world, erected by the sword; who barbarously suppresseth all rational inquiry into his doctrine, and all disputes against it, all true learning and rational helps, to advance and improve the intellect of man; and who teacheth men to fight and kill for their religion: certainly, the kingdom of darkness is not the kingdom of God, but of the devil; and the friend of ignorance is no friend to truth, to God, or to mankind; and it is a sign of a bad cause, that it cannot endure the light. If it be of God, why dare they not soberly prove it to us, and hear what we have to object against it, that truth, by the search, may have the victory: if beasts had a religion, it would be such as this.
3. Moreover, they have doctrines of polygamy, and of a sensual kind of heaven, and of murdering men, to increase their kingdoms, and many the like; which being contrary to the light of nature, and unto certain, common truths, do prove that the prophet and his doctrine are not of God.
4. And his full attestation to Moses and Christ, as the true prophets of God, doth prove himself a false prophet who so much contradicteth them, and rageth against Christians as a blood-thirsty enemy, when he hath given so full a testimony to Christ; the particulars of which I shall show anon.
Of the Christian Religion: and first, What it is.
SECT. 1. IV. The last sort of religion to be inquired into, is Christianity; in which, by the providence of God, I was edu
cated, and at first received it by a human faith, upon the word and reverence of my parents and teachers, being unable in my childhood, rationally, to try its grounds and evidences."
I shall declare to the reader just in what order I have received the christian religion, that the inquisition being the more clear and particular, the satisfaction may be the greater; and it being primarily for my own use that I draw up these papers, I find it convenient to remember what is past, and to insert the transcript of my own experiences, that I may fully try whether I have gone rationally and faithfully to work or not. I confess, that I took my religion at first upon my parents' word; and who could expect that in my childhood I should be able to prove its grounds? But whether God owned that method of reception by any of his inward light and operations, and whether the efficacy of the smallest beams be any proof of the truth of the christian faith, I leave to the reader, and shall myself only declare the naked history in truth.
Sect. 2. In this religion (received defectively both as to matter and grounds) I found a power even in my childhood, to awe my soul, and check my sin and folly, and make me careful of my salvation, and to make me love and honour true wisdom and holiness of life.
Sect. 3. But when I grew up to fuller use of reason, and more distinctly understood what I had generally and darkly received, the power of it did more surprise my mind, and bring me to deeper consideration of spiritual and everlasting things; it humbled me in the sense of my sin and its deserts, and made me think more sensibly of a Saviour; it resolved me for more exact obedience to God, and increased my love to God; and increased my love to persons and things, sermons, writings, prayers, conference, which relished of plain, resolved godliness.
Sect. 4. In all this time I never doubted of the truth of this religion; partly retaining my first, human belief, and partly awed and convinced by the intrinsic evidence of its proper subject, end, and manner; and being taken up about the humbling and reforming study of myself.
Sect. 5. At last, having for many years laboured to compose
"What the christian religion is, judge not by the intruded opinions of any sect, but by the ancient creeds and summaries, which elsewhere I have recited out of Tertullian and other ancients; and which you may find recited or referred to in Usher and Vossius, 'De Symb.' See the description of the christian faith in Proclus ad Armenios, 'De fide in Bib. Pat. Græcolat. to. 1. p. 311.' Also the Catechism of Junilius Africanus, De Part. Div. Legis.' Et Hermenopol. De Fide Orthod.'
my mind and life to the principles of this religion, I grew up to see more difficulties in it than I saw before; and partly by temptations, and partly by an inquisitive mind, which was wounded with uncertainties, and could not contemptuously or carelessly cast off the doubts which I was not able to resolve, I resumed afresh the whole inquiry, and resolved to make as faithful a search into the nature and grounds of this religion as if I had never been baptised into it.
The first thing I studied was the matter of Christianity, What it is? And the next was the evidence and certainty of it; of which I shall speak distinctly.
Sect. 6. The christian religion is to be considered, 1. In itself, as delivered by God; 2. In its reception and practice, by men professing it. In itself it is perfect, but not so easily discernible by a stranger; in the practisers it is imperfect here in this life, but more discernible by men that cannot so quickly understand the principles; and more forcibly constraineth them to perceive its holiness and worth, where it is indeed sincerely practised; and is most dishonoured and misunderstood through the wickedness of hypocrites who profess it.
As the impress on the wax doth make the image more discernible than the sculpture on the seal; but the sculpture is true and perfect, when many accidents may render the impressed image imperfect and faulty: so is it in this case. To a diligent inquirer, Christianity is best known in its principles delivered by Christ the Author of it; and, indeed, is no otherwise perfectly known, because it is nowhere else perfectly to be seen: but yet it is much more visible and taking with unskilful, superficial observers, in the professors' lives; for they can discern the good or evil of an action, who perceive not the nature of the rule and precepts. The vital form in the rose-tree is the most excellent part; but the beauty and sweetness of the rose is more easily discerned. Effects are most sensible, but causes are most excellent; and yet in some respects the practice of religion is more excellent than the precepts, inasmuch as the precepts are means to practice; for the end is more excellent than the means as such. A poor man can more easily perceive the worth of charity in the person that clotheth, and feedeth, and relieveth him, than the worth of a treatise or sermon of charity. Subjects easily perceive the worth of a wise, and holy,
• Leg Julian. Toletan, cont. Judæos. Et Rabbi Samuel. Marochiani de adventu Messiæ.
and just, and merciful king or magistrate, in his actual government, who are not much taken with the precepts which require yet more perfection: and among all descriptions, historical narratives, like Xenophon's 'Cyrus,' do take most with them. Doubtless, if ever the professors of Christianity should live according to their own profession, they would thereby overcome the opposition of the world, and propagate their religion with the greatest success through all the earth.
Because no man can well judge of the truth of a doctrine till he first know what it is, I think it here necessary to open the true nature of the christian religion, and tell men truly what it is partly, because I perceive that abundance that profess it hypocritically, by the mere power of education, laws and customs of their country, do not understand it, and then are the more easily tempted to neglect or contemn it, or forsake it, if strongly tempted to it; even to forsake that which, indeed, they never truly received. And because it is possible some aliens to Christianity may peruse these lines. Otherwise, were I to speak only to those that already understand it, I might spare this description.
Sect. 7. The christian religion containeth two parts: 1. All theological verities which are of natural revelation: 2. Much more which is supernaturally revealed. The supernatural revelation is said in it to be partly written by God, partly delivered by angels, partly by inspired prophets and apostles, and partly by Jesus Christ himself in person.
Sect. 8. The supernatural revelation reciteth most of the natural, because the searching of the great book of nature is a long and difficult work for the now corrupted, dark, and slothful mind of the common sort of men.
Sect. 9. These supernatural revelations are all contained, 1. Most copiously in a book called, "The Holy Bible; or Canonical Scriptures.' 2. More summarily and contractedly, in three forms, called, "The Belief,' "The Lord's Prayer,' and 'The Ten Commandments.' 3. And most briefly and summarily, in a 'Sacramental Covenant:' this last containeth all the essential parts most briefly; and the second somewhat more fully explaineth them; and the first, the holy Scriptures, containeth also all the integral parts, or the whole frame.
Sect. 10. Some of the present professors of the christian religion do differ about the authority of some few writings, called 'Apocrypha,' whether they are to be numbered with the ca
nonical books of God, or not; but those few containing in them no considerable points of doctrine different from the rest, the controversy doth not very much concern the substance or doctrinal matter of their religion.
Sect. 11. The sacred Scriptures are written very much historically, the doctrines being interspersed with the history.
Sect. 12. This sacred volume containeth two parts: the first called, 'The Old Testament,' containing the history of the creation, and of the deluge, and of the Jewish nation till after their captivity; as also their law, and prophets. The second, called "The New Testament,' containing the history of the birth, and life, and death, and resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ; the sending of his apostles; the giving of the Holy Ghost; the course of their ministry and miracles; with the sum of the doctrine preached first by Christ, and then by them, and certain epistles of theirs to divers churches and persons, more fully opening all that doctrine.
Sect. 13. The sum of the history of the Old Testament is this: That in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, with all things in them : P viz., That having first made the intellectual, superior part of the world, and the matter of the elementary world in an unformed mass, he did, the first day, distinguish or form the active element of fire, and caused it to give light the second day, he separated the rarified, passive element, called air, expanding it from the earth upwards, to be a separation and medium of action between the superior and inferior parts. The third day he separated the rest of the passive element, earth and water, into their proper place, and set their bounds; and made individual plants, with their specific forms and virtue of generation. The fourth day he made the sun, moon, and stars, for luminaries to the earth; either then forming them, or then appointing them to that office, but not revealing their other uses, which are nothing to us. The fifth day he made fishes and birds, with the power of generation. The sixth day he made the terrestrial animals, and man, with the like generative power. And the seventh day he appointed to be a Sabbath of rest, on which he would be solemnly worshipped by mankind as our Creator. Having made one man and one woman, in his own image, that is, with intellects, freewill, and executive power, in wisdom, holiness, and aptitude to obey him, and with dominion over the sensitive and vegetative,
P Gen. i.