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SER M. their Pleasures as consistent as they could;
and who therefore were oblig'd, in point of Interest, to disbelieve every thing that made against them.
This is the short and true Account of the Matter ; and will appear to be so, if we cast our Eyes backward on the Story of the World, and consider, who they have been, that have rejected the true Religion, all along from the Creation down to this Time.
In the Old World, Noah, who was the only Man that preserved the Worship of the true God in his Family, seems to
have been an honest plain-hearted Man ; Gen.vi. 9. just and perfe&t in bis generation, (as he
is describ'd in Scripture ) and walking with God. The rest of the World are faid to have eaten and drunken, to have married and been given in Marriage, i. es they were Men, who liv'd in all the Enjoyments of Sense, who revelld, and took their fill of all the good things of this World ; and, to be sure, were very merry, and very bitter upon those that did
fot. How did they deride that Ġrave SERM Preacher of Righteousness, and his Precise Family, when He and his Sons talk'd to them of Righteousness, Temperance and Judgment ! especially, when he told them that there was such a Flood coming, and that he was building That Ark to preserve himself and his Houfhold, what a Jeft was he to the Men of Parts and Pleasure ! How many Scornful and Gay things were said upon this Occasion, while the Work went forward; by Those, who thought themselves very Wise, and Him very Foolish! But the Fountains of the great Deep were broken up, and the Windows of Heaven open'd; and Then they began to change their Opinions, when (alas ) it was too late to learn.
In the next great Periód after the Flood, the true Religion was confin'd to the single Nation of the fetös: and one may think it strange at first fight, that, if it were the True Religion, it should be fo confiad ; that the wise and knowing part of Mankind should not discern the Itrength of the Evidence that was brought Vol. I.
SER M. for the Divine Original of the Law of
Moses, nor receive the God of Israel for Their God. But, if we consider a little farther, we shall be satisfied, that the true reason of Mens Infidelity, throughout this long Period of time, was, a Mean and Contemptuous Notion they had entertaind of the Jewish People, and of their Rites and Ceremonies. The Wise Men of the East, in the Earliest Ages, and the Philosophers of the West, in Later Times, had too high an Opinion of themselves, and too low an one of that Little, Narrow-Could Superstitious Nation, to submit themselves to be taught by them. The Jews were a Proverb and a By-word to the rest of the World, the perpetual Subject of their Scorn and Reproach : And who can think ( may we suppose one of those Wise Heathens to have said) that Truth should lie hid among such an odd sort of People, in such a little Spot of the World ?
And thus, again, when Christianity first appear’d, it made no great Progress among the Difputers of this World, a
SERM mong the Men of Wit and Subtlety, fór this
very Reason ; because they were Scorhers. The Gospel was to the Jerus (to the most Learned and Proud Sect among the Jews the Pharisees) a stumbling-block ; 1 Cor. i: and to those of higher Repute among the Greeks, foolishness. The great Pretenders to Knowledge every where unanimously contemn’d and derided it; as a poor and low System of Principles; and could never once think of humbling their Minds, tơ entertain the Simplicity of the Gospel:
How should the Great Lords of thie Earth; who swarm in all the Delights of Senise, and thought themselves born to enjoy them, submit to be talk'd out of their Pleasures and their Privileges by å few ignorant Fishermen , anid Tentmakers ? The Story of the Propagation of the Gospel in Jewry, might perhaps make a part of the Conversation in the Court of Tiberiüs ; it was, probablý, such ä Subject of Discourse to Themi, as the Quietists in It alý were to Us, at their first appearing The Novelty of the thing
SER M.might occasion some Reflections, and
Enquiries: but it was not to be expected, that Men of Pleasure and Parts should give themselves the Trouble of Examining nicely into the Pretensions with which this New Religion set up, or of considering, in good Earnest, whether they ought to become Proselytes to it.
We are not to wonder, therefore, if, in some Ages after Christianity, we find not much said to the Advantage of it, in the Writings of those Eminent Greeks and Romans, who are allow'd to have been the best Masters of Polite Thought and Expression. Alas! Porphyry must have been contented to confess the Vanity of Philosophy, and Lucian must in great measure have foregone his Skill in Satyr; The Witty Libertines of those Times must have parted with much of the Esteem they had, and with most of their Pleasures, if they had once admitted the Truth of Christianity: and, therefore, they agreed in running down the Reputation of That, left they should lose their Own.