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BUT first, I must premise, That in fuppofing an External Revelation, I take it for granted, that there's fufficient Evidence of a Perfon being fent from God to publish it; nay, I further own, that this divine Perfon by living up to what he taught, has fet us a noble Example; and that as he was highly exalted for fo doing, so we, if we use our best Endeavours, may expect a fuitable Reward. This, and every Thing of the fame Nature, I freely own, which is not inconfiftent with the Law of God being the fame, whether internally, or externally reveal'd.
B. YOUR Defign, I must own, is highly commendable; but in Order to fucceed, you are to prove two Things. First, That the fupreme Governor of Mankind has given his Subjects an univerfal Law, which they, when they come to the Ufe of Reason, are capable of knowing. Secondly, That the Divine Precepts must be the fame, whether internally, or externally reveal'd. If you prove these two Points, you will entirely clear up my Doubts; but I almost despair of your doing it, fince you seem to me to advance a New Hypothefis,
A. HEAR the Evidence, and then judge; but before I produce it, left the fuppos'd Novelty of this Opinion may prejudice you, I fhall put you in Mind of what Archbi fhop Laud fays upon a like Occafion : "That when Er-Laud's Prefi.
rors are grown by Age and Continuance to Strength; again Fisher.
they who speak for the Truth, tho' far older, are or
dinarily challeng'd for bringing in new Opinions; and "there's no greater Absurdity stirring this Day in Chriften"dome." Now,
By putting me to prove that there is a Law of Nature, you, fuppofe, have a Mind to hear what I can fay on this Subject; fince none that believe there's a God, who governs Mankind, but believe he has given them a Law for the governing their Actions; and that this is imply'd in the very Notion of Governor and governed; and confequently, that the Law by which he governs Men, and his Government commenc'd together, and extends alike to Pref. to Wil- all his Subjects. "Is it not, as Bishop Tillotson obferves, Rin's of Nat. « abfurd to think, that the Obligation does folely depend Relig.
<< upon the Revelation of God's Will made known to us
་ nary Revelation; else how cou'd God judge the World ?
ence, nor Transgression.
IF, then, it be abfurd to fuppose, that Men, tho' they liv'd ever so impiously and immorally, cou'd do nothing which God has forbid them; Or if ever fo pioufly and virtuously, cou'd not do any Thing God has commanded them; muft there not always have been an univerfal Law fo fully promulgated to Mankind, that they could have no juft Plea from their Ignorance not to be try'd by it; and consequently, nothing less than its being founded on the Nature of Things, and the Relation they ftand in to God, and one another, visible at all Times to all Mankind, cou'd make it thus univerfally promulgated. But further to illuftrate this Matter, can it be imagin'd, that if God has been fo good to all other Animals, as to give them, not in one Country only, but
but in all Places whatsoever, fufficient Means to act for their own Preservation, that he has had lefs Kindness for the immortal Souls of those made after his own Image, and has not given them at one Time as well as another, and at one Place as well as another, fufficient Means to provide for their eternal Happiness? Or,
CAN it be fuppos'd, an infinitely good and gracious Being, which gives Men Notice by their Senses, what does Good or Hurt to their Bodies, has had less Regard for their immortal Parts, and has not given them at all Times by the Light of their Understanding, fufficient Means to discover what makes for the Good of their Souls; but has neceffitated them, or any of them, to continue from Age to Age in deftructive Ignorance, or Error? To prefs this Matter further, let me ask you, Whether there's not a clear and diftinct Light, that enlightens all Men; and which, the Moment they attend to it, makes them perceive those eternal Truths, which are the Foundation of all our Knowledge, And is it not God himself, who immediately illuminates them? And what better Reafon can you affign, why infinite Wisdom should act thus, except it be to give Mankind standing Rules to distinguish Truth from Falfhood; espe→ cially in Matters of the highest Consequence, to their eternal as well as temporal Happiness?
THERE has, no doubt, been a great Number of traditional Religions fucceeding one another; and as far as we know, there is no traditional Religion, which, except in Name, has continu'd the fame for any long Time; and tho' there are a great Number of Sects, who go under the fame common Denomination, yet they are almost as much divided among themselves, as if they own'd different Religions, and accordC 2
ingly charge one another with erring fundamentally; yer all These agree in acknowledging a Law of Nature, and that they are indifpenfably oblig'd to obey its Dictates: So that This Light of Nature, like That of the Sun, is univerfal; and wou'd, did not Men shut the Eyes of their Understanding, or fuffer Others to blind them, foon disperse all these Mists and Fogs, which arise from false Traditions or falfe Interpretations of the true Tradition.
CHA P. II.
That the Religion of Nature confifts in observing those Things, which our Reafon, by confidering the Nature of God and Man, and the Relation we stand in to him and one another, demonftrates to be our Duty; and that thofe Things are plain; and likewife What they are.
HAT we may the better know whether the Law, or Religion of Nature is univerfal, and the Gospel a Republication of It, and not a New Religion; I defire you will give a Definition of the Religion of Nature.
A. By Natural Religion, I understand the Belief of the Existence of a God, and the Senfe and Practice of thofe Duties, which refult from the Knowledge, we, by our Reason, have of him, and his Perfections; and of ourselves, and our own Imperfections; and of the Relation we ftand in to him, and to our Fellow-Creatures; fo that the Religion of Nature takes in every Thing that is founded on the Reafon and Nature of Things./Hence Grotius defines the Law of Nature to be Dictatum recta rationis, indicans actui alicui, ex Lib. 1. c. 1 ejus convenientia aut difconvenientia cum ipfa natura ratio-Par. 10;