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6. What sort of government there is in the Ser M. universe,

XVIII. It is plain if we had no revelation, and were in a state of heathenism, these are the points concerning which we should make the Arictest enquiry, or at least ought to do fo; because they are the things of the utmost importance to us. Let us therefore consider what account christianity gives us of these things, and compare them with what we have received from the wisest heathens; and then it will appear

whether our revealed religion is rejected and despised by the wise men, the wits, and gentlemen of fashion of the world, for want of any reasonableness in it. And I shall do this the rather, because it must be acknowledged that the surest way of knowing what men could do, without revelation now, is to consider how far their natural abilities have reached, when they were altogether without it: Especially since the wise men of the heathen world have already made as great a progress as was possible, for mere reason in the knowledge of these important matters, which ought to be the greatest enquiries of mankind; and yet upon a view of them both it will appear, that the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is fironger than men; and that no worldly wisdom bath reason to glory in his presence. And therefore,

I. As to the first great enquiry, which is, how we came into being. This is one of the

first

E 4

SERM. first things that offers itself to par thoughts, XVIII. and that to which the mind of man is led by

Va natural curiosity: And accordingly all parts

of the heathen world have had their different conjectures, and nothing hath occasioned greater variety of opinions. Some of the philosophers would have it that the race of man-. kind did exist from all eternity i which opie nion they were led to for want of abilities to solve the difficulty; for when they could not tell how mankind came to have a beginning, all they had left to say was, that he had none. Others have guessed that mankind was first formed like vermin out of flime and mud, by the heat and warmth of the sun. But this is so far from being true of mankind, that mo. dern experiments have thewed us, that there is no such thing as any anomalous generation of animals, not even of fljes. Others, and a nation too very famous for learning and arts, held thạt mankind was first formed in the earth like mandrakes, and then sprang up like trees. The Americans believed that their idol Deity fhot some arrows into the ground, which became men and women. The Chinese will have their idol to have created the first man, and have given him a power and commission of creating others. And lastly, that is a well known story of Prometheus's forming the first man of the earth, and when he had done, leaving the lifeless carcass here on earth, till he went to heaven and stole some fire from the

çhariot

chariot of the fun, by which he inspired it SER M. with life and motion, and with all what a XVIII. strange expedient the oracle found out for the restoration of mankind, after it was destroyed by Deucalion's flood, Now thefe, and such like, are the

ways which the wiseft of the Heathens have found to bring us into being. But the holy scriptures tell us that we are the workmanship of the one only true God, who is infinite in wife dom and power, and by whom were all things made that were made ; that we were created at the beginning of this earth male and female; that he made us of the earth ; that duft we are, and to duft we shall return; that he breathed into us a living soul, and made us after his own image, (i. e.) of a spiritual and immortal, of a free and reasonable nature; so that we now can say with David, tby bands made me and fashioned me, and I am won derfully made; thine eyes did see my substance get being imperfeet, and in thy book were all my members written, wbich day by day were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

By this we know well from whence we had our being, and to whom we are to return the glory and praise of it: But all other accounts are trifling and foolish; and though we should

many of them are only the fictions of their Poets; yet it is plain they are substituted inftead of the truth; and that which

put them upon invention was, because they were

wholly

grant that

SERM. wholly ignorant of the true way. But such XVIII. fictions and inventions as they are, they went

to make up the body of the heathen theology; they were part of their creed, and whatever the wiser fórt thought of them, yeť the

generality believed them, as they believe the romish legend in the church of Rome.

II. Another enquiry of the greatest importance to the whole race of mankind is, how we came to be in this corrupt and degenerate ftate. They were all inclined to think we were not originally so; and therefore as they very much bewailed this depravedness of human nature, and its pronenefs to all manner of wickedness; so they talked much of a golden age, a time when there was no wickedness in the world; and when men were not afraid of one another; when love, and amity, and peace reigned among men; and when justice, and temperance, and chastity prevailed over the world : But when Astrea fied to heaven' all virtue and goodness went along with her, and left all vice and wickedness to reign upon

earth. Another way they had of solving this corruption of human nature was, by suppofing two first principal causes, the one the cause of all the goodness and perfection, who made us pure at first; the other the author of all evil and imperfection, which corrupted us afterwards; which is a faint allusion to the truth. Some of the Philosophers would have the soul corrupted before it came into the body, and so retain its original pravity, but gave no account how it became so in that pre-S ERM. existent state which they suppose. The Ame- XVIII. ricans say that mankind came very pure out of the hands of the Deity, but he had a mischievous mother who spoiled all that be made, and mankind among the rest.

Cebes, in his protraiture of human life, attributes this corruption to a poisonous glass, which every one drinks more or less of as they enter into life.

And we know the ancients attributed this to a box full of all diseases and infection, which Jupiter sent down among mortals; being incensed with Prometheus for the fire he stole from heaven; or rather out of envy at those new creatures he had made, which when it was opened the infection flew out, and filled them with all thofe distempers both of body and mind.

These, and such like, are the result of the wisdom and learning of those who were void of all revelation.

I need not stay to Thew how ridiculous and senseless they are, and how much below, not only revelation but, the ordinary reason of a man : Whereas the account our revealed religion gives us of this, is plain and easy; it tells us that when God had made our first

parents pure and unfpotted, they became corrupt by their own wilful disobedience, in transgressing a positive command given them for their good ; that they were tempted to this by the Devil, the great enemy of mankind,

who

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