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Still lower, when they had lost all Knowlege of the true God, and the fecond Causes or Agents here, the false Gods; some, who saw that all this Trumpery clear'd nothing, began to frame, as they call’d, it, the Law of Nature, out of their own Heads ; began to guess, as they callid it, Reason, what God must be, what must be God; what must be Religion, and what, Religion must be ; they had not heard of Aleim; or knew not what it meant; they found no Evidence fit to direct them; therefore they determin'd Religion must be natural Morality, and Morality must be natural Religion, and consist in the reciprocal Duties from one to another in a Commonwealth. These Men were even then justly treated as Atheists ; yet this is the Foundation of our Naturalists, and which they (I wish I could stop there) sec up in Opposition to the Revelations made to the Jews, &c. and which our Divines continually cite.
When that would not take, they attempted to become great by the Art of Oration, by learning to dress up Imaginations and Falthoods under the specious Appearances of Truth, to gain the Populace, to destroy a Rival, to carry a Cause, &c. Though imposing upon Mens
Vol. IV. I Judgments
Judgments by false Reasoning, especially upon Bodies of Men, Judges, &c. be one of the greatest Crimes, was part of Satan's Means in his first Attempt, his giving false Evidence, is infinitely worse than Coining, and uttering false Money, or making and vending any other false Commodity; there has been the fewest Laws made against it, the fewest Examples lately to deter Men from it, nay, the Artifts at it have met with greater Encouragements and Rewards, than those of any Vice whatever. This we have learn'd from Rhetoric and Logic in the Classics.
When this Art was arrived to such Perfection, and there were such Numbers of Artists, that in any Contest neither Side wanted Advocates who would make any Thing appear to be true, for Meney; they were of little Benefit to one great Man against another, served only to catch smaller Prey : So at last, to get to be great, they were forced to use the other part of the Means which Satan had used at first, Promises and Bribes; so that which began the false Confeflion, ended it. Some of the Heathen Books are left among us, as some. of the Canaanites were left among the Ifraelites, to prove them ; and so are these Dreamers suffer'd, who start old Objecti
ons every Day. A Man who understands the Original, may safely study and attempt the explaining of these. Farces, and see the Vanity of these Notions; but he who does not, meddles with them at the Risque of himself.
As 'tis said to the Jews, Deut. iv. 6, This is your Wisdom and your Understanding, &c. so they, bydeparting from it, and losing their Language, were reduced to nearly the fame Degree of Ignorance in the two chief Points; as is declared and predicted, Tfa. xxix, 10. For the Lord bath poured out upon you the Spirit of deep Sleep, and hath closed your Eyes : The Prophets and your Rulers, the Seers, hath be covered, and the Vipon of all is become unto you as the Words of i Book which is seeied, which Men deliver to one which is learned, Janing, Read this, I pray thee; and he jaith, I cannot, for it is sealed : And the Brok is delivered to himn which is not learned, fave ing, Read this, I pray thee ; and he faith; I am not learned. And their Fear towards me is taught by the Precepts of Men, &c. Ifa. xliii. 27, Thy firjt Father hath jinned, and thy Teachers (Interpreters) have transgrefs'd against me; therefore I have prophaned the Princes of thy San&uary.. Jer. Lo! they have rejected the Worit of
the Lord, and what Wisdom (the Wisdom of what Thing) is in them ? Amos viii. 11. I will send a Famine in the Land, not a Famine of Bread, nor a Thirst for Water, tut of bearing the Words of the Lord, &c. as 'tis said to Babylon and Chaldea, while their Language and revealed Knowledge of these Things were perfect. Ifa. xlvii. 10, Thy Wisdom and thy Knowledge it bath perverted thee (caused thee to turn away.) The Jews must know what the Chaldeans knew, when they returned : And it appears by the Apocryphal Books and Targums, that the Jews had then lost their Knowledge of those Agents, guess'd poorly at the Objects, and supposed the Gentilés worshipped Images : So when those were
i Cor. i. 20, Where is the Disputer of this World ? I may answer, Jer. x. 14, and li. 17, Every Man is brutish, by bis Knowledge ; (more brutish than to know) so far from discovering the great Author, that after the Knowledge of him, of the Agents here, & c. were revealed to them, they first lost the Knowledge of the First; after that, of the Second ; and, without Revelation, could not so much as discover the immediate Hand that delivered the present Benefits to them.
As the Soul, or Mind of Man, cannot fubfist without Supplies or Support, any more than his Body; as nothing can supply the Mind of Man, except he sees, or lupposes he sees, a Power in some other Being fufficient to afford such Supplies as the Soul requires, and supposes himself so far in the Favour of that Being, chat he will afford his Soul those Supplies, expressed in that beautiful Parable Luke xv. of the Gentiles, the younger Son, who, together with the elder, the Jewish Line, while he was in his Father's House, the true Church, wanted nothing; there was Plenty of Food for the Soul, as appears by the Speech of the younger Son to himself, and of the Father to his elder Şon. After the younger Brother, poffeffed of his Share of Knowledge, went into a strange Country, from God, and spent his Substance, the Evidence and knowledge of God, and fell into spiritual Fornication with these Agents, while he preserved the Knowledge of the Operation of these Agents, which was sufficient to employ his Mind ; and supposed, from the great Performances that he faw, that there were some further Powers in them which he might depend upon, which were those, his elder, Brother, Mofes, the Prophets,