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thinkers fortified themselves against all that was said by men of the clerical profession, by alledging, that it was their trade, and that they were paid for it; he hoped, therefore, that he might have the more influence, the less he shared in the patrimony of the church.”
Mr. Locke, whose accurate talent in reasoning is so much celebrated even by the sceptics and infidels, shewed his zeal for Christianity in the early part of his life, by publishing a difcourse to demonstrate the reasonableness of believing Jesus to be the promised Messiah ; and, in the last years of his life, by a very judicious commentary upon several of the epiftles of St. Paul.
He speaks of the miracles wrought by our Saviour and his apostles, in the most convincing manner, hoch as faês demonstrably truc, and as the clearest evidences of a divine mission. His words are these: “ The evidence of our Saviour's million from heaven is so great, in the multitude of miracles he did before all forts of people (which the divine providence and wisdom has fo ordered, that they never were, nor could be denied, by any of the enemies and opposers of christianity) that what he delivered cannot but he received as the oracles of God, and unquestionable verity.” And again; his resurrection, he sent his apostles among the nations, accompanied with miracles which were done in all parts, so frequently, and before so many witnesses, that the enemies of christianity have never dared to deny them; no, lot Julian himself, who neither wanted skill nor power to inquire into the truth: nor would have failed to have proclaimed and exposed it, if he could have detected any fulthood in the history of the gospel, or found the least ground to question the matter of fact published by Christ and his apostles. The number and evidence of the miracles done hy our Saviour and his followers, by the power and force of truih, bore down this mighty and accomplished Emperor, and all his parts, in his own domini
Fie durft not deny so plain a matter of fact; which being granted, the truth of our Saviour's doctrine and mission unavoidably follows, notwithstanding whatever artful suggestions wit could invent, or malice offer to the contrary."
To those who alk, 'What need was there of a Saviour? What advanta'e have we by Jesus Christ?? Mr. Locke replies, “ It is enough to justify the fitness of any thing to be eone, by resolving it into the wisdom of God who has done it;
whereof our narrow understandings, and Mort views, may incapacitate us to judge. We know little of this visible, and nothing at all of the state of that intellectual world, (wherein are infinite numbers and degrees of spirits, out of the reach of our comprehenfion), and therefore know not what transactions there were between God and our Saviour, in reference to his kingdom. We know not what need there was to set up a head and a chieftain, in opposition to the prince of this world, the prince of the power of the air, &c. whereof there are plain intimations in scripture. And we shall take too much upon us if we shall call God's wisdom or providence to account, and arrogantly condemn as needless, all that our weak, and perhaps biassed understanding cannot account for.” And then he thews at large the necessity there was for the gof. pel revelation, to deliver the world from the miserable state of darkness and ignorance that mankind were in; 1. As to the true knowledge of God; 2. As to the worship to be paid him; 3. As to the duties to be performed to him. To which he adds, the mighty aids and encouragement to the performance of our duty; 1. From the assurance the gospel gives of future rewards and punishments; and, 2. From the promise of the spirit of God to direct and assist us.
The Holy Scriptures are every where mentioned by him with the greatest reverence; he calls them “ The holy books, the sacred texts, holy writ, and divine revelation;” and exhorts christians “to betake themselves in earnest to the study of the way to salvation, in these holy writings, wherein God has revealed it from heaven, and proposed it to the world ; seeking our religion where we are sure it is in truth to be found, comparing fpirituai things with spiritual.” And, in a letter written the year before his death, to one who had asked this question,“ What is the shortest and surest way for a young person to attain to a true knowledge of the christian religion, in the full and just extent? His answer is, “ Let him ftudy the Holy Scripture, especially the New Testament. Therein are contained the words of eternal life. It has God for its author; salvation for its end; and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter." A direction that was copied from his own practice, in the larter part of his life, and after his retirement from business; when for fourteen or fifteen years, he applied himself especially to the study of the Holy Scriptures, and employed the last years of his life scarcely in
any thing else.
“ He was never weary of admiring the great views of that sacred bouk, and the just relation of all its parts. He every day made discoveries in it, that gave him fresh cause of admiration.”
Of St. Paul in particular, upon several of whose epistles he drew up a most useful commentary, he says, “ That he was miraculously called to the ministry of the gospel, and declared to be a chofen vefsel; that he had the whole doctrine of the gospel from God, by immediate revelation; that for his information in the chriitian knowledge, and the mysteries and depths of the dispensation of God, by Jesus Christ, God himself had condescended to be his instructor and teacher; that he had re. ceived the light of the gospel from the fountain and father of light himself; and, that an exact observation of his reason. ings and inferences is the only safe guide for the right understanding of him, under the spirit of God, that directed these sacred writings.
And the death of this great man was agreeable to his life. For we are informed, by one who was with him when he died, and had lived in the same family for seven years before, that the day before his death, he particularly exhorted all about him to read the Holy Scriptures; that he desired to be remeinbered by them at evening prayers; that an occasion offering to speak of the goodness of God, he especially exalted the love which God fhewed to man, in justifying him by faith in Jesus Christ; and returned God thanks in particular for having called him into the knowledge of that divine Saviour.
About two months after his death, he drew up a letter to a certain gentleman (who afterwards distinguished himself by a very different way of thinking and writing), and left this direction upon it, “ To be delivered to him after my decease." In it are these remarkable words: “ This life is a scene of vanity that soon pailes away, and affords no folid satisfaction, but in the consciousness of doing well, and in the hopes of another life. This is what I can say upon experience, and what you
will find to be true, when you come to make up the account.
Sir Isaac Newton, universally acknowledged to be the ablest philosopher and mathematician that this or any other nation has produced, is also well known to have been a firm believer, and a serious christian. His discoveries concerning the frame and system of the universe, were applied by him, as Mr: Buyle's enquiries into nature, had been, to demonstrate against atbeilts of all kinds, the being of a God, and to illustrate his power and wisdom in the creation of the world. Of which 10 better account can be given, than in the words of an ingenious person who has been much conversant in his philosophical writings. " At the end of his mathematical principles of natural philosophy, he has given us his thoughts concerning the Deity; wherein he first observes, that the fimilitude found in all parts of the universe, makes it undoubted, that the whole is governed by one supreme Being, to whom the original is owing of the frame of nature, which evidently is the effect of choice and design. He then proceeds briefly to state the best metaphysical notions concerning God. In short, we cannot conceive either of space or time otherwise than as necessarily existing; this Being, therefore, on whom all others depend, must certainly exist by the same necessity of nature. Confequently, wherever space and time is found, there God must also be. And, as it appears impossible to us, that space should be limited, or that time should have had a beginning, the Deity must be both immense and eternal."
This great man applied himself with the utmost attention to the study of the Holy Scriptures, and considered the several parts of them with an uncommon exactness; particularly, as to the order of time, and the series of prophecies and events relating to the Messiah. Upon which subject he left behind him an elaborate discourse, to prove that the famous prophecy of Daniel's weeks, which had been so industriously perverted by deists, was an express prophecy of the Messiah, and fulfilled in Jesus Chrift.
Mr. Addison, so deservedly celebrated for uncommon accuracy in thinking and reasoning, has given abundant proof of his firm belief of christianity, and his zeal against infidels of all kinds, in the arguments adduced in this work.
Wé mcntion not these great names, nór the testimonies they have given of their firm belief of the truth of christianity, as if the evidences of our religion were to be hnally resolved into human authority, or tried in any other way than by the known and established rules of right reason: but the design in mentioning them, is,
1. To shew the great presumption of those who would make the belief of revelation inconsistent with the use of reason; though they have known so many eminent inttances of the
greatest reasoners, not only believing revelation, but zealously concerned to establish and propagate the belief of it.
2. The remembrance of this will also be a means, on one hand, to hinder well-disposed perfons from being milled by the vain boasts of our modern pretenders to reason; and, on the other hand, to check the inclination of the wicked and vicious to be milled; when both of them have before their eyes such eminent instances of sound reasoning and a firm faith joined together in one and the same mind,
3. Further, as these were persons generally esteemed for vir. tue and goodness, and, notwithstanding their high attainments, remarkable for their modesty and humility; their examples thew us, that a strong and clear reason naturally leads to the belief of revelation, when it is not under the influence of vice, or pride.
4. And, finally, as they are all laymen, there is no room for the enemies of revealed religion to alledge that they were prejudiced by interest, or secular considerations of any kind. A fuggestion that has really no weight, when urged against the writings of the clergy in defence of revelation, since they do not desire to be credited upon their own authority, but upon the reasons they offer; and lawyers and physicians are not less credited because they live by their professions; but it is a suggestion that easily takes possession of weak minds, and especi. ally such as catch at objections, and are willing to be caught by them. And, considering the diligence of opponents in making proselytes, and drawing men from the faith of Chrift; equal diligence is required of those who are to maintain that faith, not only to leave men no real ground, but even no colour or pretence, for their infidelity.
The following discourses, except that concerning the Evi. dences of the Christian Religion, were all published in separate papers, some years ago, and afterwards collected into volumes, with marks of distinction at the end of many of them, to point out the writers. Mr. Addison's are there distinguishej hy some one of the letters of the word CLIO; and the same marks of distinction are here continued; as are also the rest, where any letter was found at the end of the discourse.
In those volumes, they stand according to the order of time in which they were at first separately published, without any connection as to the matter contained in them; but here, the several discourses on the same subject, which lie dispersed in those papers, are reduced to their proper heads, and put into one view, that the whole may be more regularly read, and each bead may leave a more lasting impreilion upon the mind of the reader.