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AND indeed, the Fathers have fo turn'd, and twifted the Scripture, with a pious Intention to make it speak nothing but what they thought agreeable to Reafon; that they have render'd it like Ariftotle's Materia prima; nec quid, nec quale, nec qantum, nec aliquid eorum de quibus ens denominatur: For by making the Scripture, in fo many Places, fay one Thing, and mean another, they have deftroy'd its Certainty; fince as Le Clerc obferves, "If, according to this Life of Clem, Method, the facred Writers had faid quite another Thing 54 55 Eng!. «than what they said, Or, if you will the quite contrary, Bibi. Univer. yet One might find as good Sence in them; as thofe To. 10. p. "that will try it will prefently obferve. Therefore the

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Chriftians, and the Jews wou'd have done much better to

keep close to the Letter, than to use so uncertain a Me

thod, to defend the holy Scripture against the Pagans.

B. ALL the Fathers do not allegorise like Origen; Juftin

Alexand. p.

Traufl. &

236,- 237.

Abr. Patriar.

Martyr, for Inftance, afferts, that the Threatning, that In Dialo. cum the Day thou caleft thereof thou shalt furely dye, was lite-Typh. p. 89 rally fulfill'd, in that Adam did not live out a thousand Years; which, with God, is but one Day: But to go no further than the Story of Abraham's proftituting his Wife; St. Ambrofe, to justify Abraham's Conduct, roundly afferts, Lib. 1. de Adultery to be no Crime before the giving of the Law c 4. See Daille by Mofes. And St. Auffin makes Adultery ftill lawful, if Husband and Wife confent. St. Jerom, indeed, runs into). 16. c 25. the other Extream, and approves the Conduct of thofe, Com, cu Jon.. who kill'd themselves, to preferve their Chaftity. But the pmost eloquent St. Chryfoftom enlarges very much in Com-Hom. 52, in mendation of Abraham and Sarab, and fays, "Tho' no- Gen.

thing gives a Husband more Uneafinefs, than to imagine his Wife has to do with another; yet this juft Man "did what he cou'd, even to accomplish the A&t of Adul

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De ufu Patr.

p. 271, 272. De civit. Dei,

To. 6 p. 150.

See Supplem.

b initio.

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tery. And adds, that Sarah too, (whom he fets as a Pattern for all Marry'd Women) accepted the Proposal "very couragiously; and then crys out, Who can enough ad"mire this Readiness to obey her Husband? Who can suf

ficiently celebrate the Praises of Sarah, who, after fo "long Continence, and at her great Age, readily confented to "this Act of Adultery, and to let the Barbarian have the "Ufe of her Body, to fave her Husband?

A. MIGHT not thofe Fathers as well have allegoris'd, as talk'd thus abfurdly? Tis chiefly owing to the Papifts taking fome Words in a literal Senfe, relating to the eating the Flesh, and drinking the Blood of the Son of Man, that makes them to be of a different Religion from the Proteftants; and tho' two Parties may agree, in taking the fame Words in an allegorical Senfe; yet by allegorifing them differently, they may be of different Religions: By allegorifing fome Texts, the Jeres have made the Meffiah a Temporal Prince; the Chriftians a Spiritual One. Mr. Whiston must think there are no Words fo plain, but to his Elay, are capable of being allegoris'd; fince, he fuppofes the Catholick Church has all along allegorifed plain LoveSongs, between Solomon and one of his Mistresses, into fpiritual Hymns between Chrift and his Spouse, the Church. And what Dr. South muft have thought of the Revelations, I leave you to judge, when he does not fcruple to South's Serm. call it a myfterious, extraordinary Book; which, perhaps, the more 'tis ftudy'd, the lefs 'tis understood; as generally finding a Man crack'd, or making him fo. And had not the Mahometan Divines had the Knack of allegorifing Nontence, Fools, and frantick Perfons wou'd not have been cant's pref. had in fuch Honour and Reverence among the Muffelmen, State of the only because their Revelations and Enthufiafas transported

Vol. 2. p. 467.

Ortom. Emp.


them out of the ordinary Temper of Humanity. Therefore, upon the whole, I muft needs fay, Happy is the Man, who is fo far, at least, directed by the Law of Reason, and the Religion of Nature, as to fuffer no Mysteries, or unintelligible Propofitions, no Allegories, no Hyperboles, no Metaphors, Types, Parables, or Phrafes of an uncertain Signification, to confound his Understanding. And certainly, the common Parent of Mankind is too good and gracious, to put the Happiness of All his Children on any other Doctrines, than fuch as plainly fhew themfelves to be the Will of God, even to the ignorant and illiterate if they have but Courage and Honefty to make use of their Reason : Otherwife the Scripture wou'd not be plain in all neceffary Things; even to Babes and Sucklings.


B. You fuppofe then, that the Bulk of Mankind are: taught by God himself, to know what Religion comes from him; even tho' they want Letters, to make 'em capable of understanding those external Proofs, on which all traditional Religions do, and must depend.


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The Bulk of Mankind, by their Reafon, must be able to diftinguish between Religion and Superflition; otherofe they can never extricate themfelves from that Superftition they chance to be

cducated in.




ELIGION either does not concern the Majority, as being incapable of forming a Judgment about it; or it must carry fuch internal Marks of its Truth, as Men of mean Capacity are able to discover or elfe notwithstanding the infinite Variety of Religions, All who do not understand the Original Languages their traditional Religions are written in, which is all Mankind, a very few excepted, are alike bound in all Places to pin their Faith on their Priefts, and believe in Men, who have an Intereft to deceive them; and who have feldom fail'd to do fo, when Occafion ferves.

CAN People, if incapable by their Reafon to diftinguifh Truth from Falfhood, have any Thing more to plead for the Truth of their Religion, than that they believe it to be


the True Religion; because their Priests, who are hir'd to maintain it, tell them it was a long While ago reveal'd to certain Perfons, who, as they, on their Priefly Words, affure them, were too wife to be impos'd on themselves; and too honeft to impofe on others: And that no Change cou'd have been made in their Religion in After-times; the Care Men have of their own Souls, as well as their natural Affections for Posterity, obliging them from Generation to Generation, to hand down their Religion just as they receiv'd it: And that it was morally impoffible, Innovations fhou'd creep in, fince it wou'd be the highest Folly in any to attempt to introduce new Doctrines, as a Tradition receiv'd from their Ancestors; when all must know they had receiv'd no fuch Tradition. As This is all, the Bulk of Mankind, if they are not capable of judging from the Doctrines themselves of their Truth, can fay for their Religion; so they, in all Places, make use of this Argument; and with equal Confidence aver, That, tho' all other traditionary Religions are full of grofs Falfhoods, and most abfurd Notions, which their Priefts impudently impose on them as divine Truths; yet our own Priests are fuch faithful Representers of Things, that One may as well question the Truth of all Hiftory, as the Truth of Things believ'd on their Authority. Priests of other Religions, we know will lie for Intereft, and confcious that their traditional Religion will not bear Examination, guard it with penal Laws; but we can never suspect, that our own Priests, tho' they take the fame Methods, act on the fame Motives.

THIS boafted Argument, in which Men of all Religions fo much triumph, if it proves any Thing, wou'd prove there never was, nor cou'd be any falfe Religion,



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