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III.

SERM and that, for this plain Reason; because the Natural and Visible Causes, which concurr'd to the production of this great Effect, were not any ways Equal to the Effect produc'd; and, therefore, fome Supernatural and Invifible Cause must needs have given birth to it.

The Appearing Caufes and Inftruments of this Wondrous Revolution were, chiefly, Twelve Men, of obfcure Birth and Parentage, of the meaneft Education, of the plainest and simplest Understandings, unpolish'd by Learning and Eloquence, unimprov❜d by Experience and Converse; Men of no Subtlety, no Art, no Addrefs; who had no manner of Authority, Intereft, or Repute in the World. These Men undertake to convince the World, that One Jefus, a Man, who had just before expir'd publickly on a Crofs, was the true God, bleffed for ever; and, in confequence of this, to preach up a Doctrine, the most unwelcome to Flesh and Blood that could be, the most repugnant to Mens natural Defires and Inclinations, to their fettled Habits, and inveterate Prejudices; contrary to the Establish'd

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Rites and Religions of all Countries, and SER M in all Ages of the World. They fet out from Jerufalem, with this Design; they disperse themselves thro' all the quarters of the Earth, they fucceed every where: and, in a very short time, prevail with great Multitudes, in every Nation, and Kingdom, to submit to the Laws, and to own the Religion of Jefus.

Now, I fay, here was no manner of Proportion between the Cause, and its Effect; between the Work which was wrought, and the Inftruments which wrought it: and therefore we may, and muft from hence conclude, that a Divine Invisible Power went along with them in every Step, and miraculously blefs'd their Endeavours Which Truth that it may appear to you in its full Strength and Evidence, I fhall confider more particularly, Which (naturally fpeaking) are the best Advantages for a New Opinion to fet up with, and under what Circumstances it is most likely to prevail; and I fhall fhew, that the Chriftian Religion was utterly deftitute of Every One of these Advantages, and yet, nevertheless, did prevail.

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Now there are Four Things, that chiefly conduce towards the spreading of any New Doctrine, and most remarkably make way for its reception in the World.

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As, ft, If the Principles of it be suit

ed to the Lufts, the Interefts, and Wishes

of Thofe, among whom it is to be pro

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2dly, If it be supported and countènan» ced by Perfons in Power and Authority, of great Name and Note; if it be either forcibly sobtruded upon Men by Sanguinary Laws and Edicts, or more indirectly advanc'd by Art, and Management, and the Methods of worldly Prudence.

3dly, If it be first brought into the World in dark and barbarous Ages, when Men are either too Rude and Illiterate, to be Able to weigh, and difpute the Truth of it, or too much funk in Sloth and Vice, to be Willing to do it. Or,

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4thly, If it be not proposed to Men, all 0 at once, but be infinuated into them by Degrees; Secretly, and Infenfibly.

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1. As to the First of thefe, it is certain,
that nothing recommends a new Doctrine
fo much, or goes fo far towards promo-
ting an Universal Reception of it, as its
falling in with the corrupt Defires and
Inclinations, the Paffions and Prejudices
of Men. For Men are, without diffi-
culty, brought to believe an Opinion
true, which they wish true beforehand.
And This was the Way in which that
cunning Impoftor, Mahomet, fet up for
a new Prophet. He made his Doctrine
as relishing and palatable as he could;
contriv'd it, on purpofe, fo as that it
might gratify Mens Lufts and Appe-
tites; and, especially, that it might com-
ply with the loose and wanton Manners
of the Eaft, where he erected his Stan-
darded on
WI
And thus alfo, ever fince, hath Liber-
tinifm of all kinds promoted its Intereft,
and increas'd its Party. Falfe and foolish
Opinions have gotten footing, and thriven,
in prejudice to true Religion, and found
Morality; because there was fomething
in them, which flatter'd either our Va-

nity,

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SERM
III.

2

of the GOSPEL.

96

SERM. nity, our Luft, or our Pride, and fell in III. with a darling Inclination. And to this fingle Art Mr. Hobbs ow'd all his Repu→ tation, and his Followers: it was not his Philosophy, and his boafted Reason, that drew men in; but the skill he had in fitting his Principles to men's Conftitutions, and Tempers: He knew what would take, and be lik’'d; and he knew how to express it after a taking manner; and no wonder then, if it were greedily entertain'd. To talk against receiv'd Opinions, and in behalf of fome belov'd Vices, and Frailties; to dress up his Difcourfe in all the natural Beauties of Language, and to give it befide the Air (and he gave it nothing but the Air) of Demonstration; This, he faw, would be a fure way of engaging the Men of Wit and Pleasure on his fide; and This, therefore, he follow'd, with application and fuccefs; like Luke xvi. one of the Children of This World, who are, in their Generation, wiser than the Children of Light.

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But Christianity, when it fet out, took none of these methods of recommending it felf, and enlarging its Inte terefts:

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