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on their Lives; like that Luminary which Ser. VII
. towards its decline looks the largest, when its Lustre and Influence are the weakest. And it is visible, that Charity, and even common Honesty have decayed together with Christianity, their firmest Support.
A long uninterrupted Flow of Ease and Tranquillity has lulled us into a fatal Indolence and Insensibility to all religious No. tions : Some hignal Judgment; some extraordinary Indication of the divine Displeasure, seems almost necessary to purge the Nation of its Dross, to rouse it into a serious Sense of Religion, and make us discern and value those Things, that belong to our Peace, before they be hidden from our Eyes : Just as when the Sky is full of noxious and pestilential Vapours; some violent Hurricane, some dreadful Bursts of Thunder are necefsary to disperse them, to clear the infected Air, and restore it to its former Serenity.
On the Evidences of Christianity, the
Corruption of our Nature, the
Preached at the Lady Moyer's Lecture, in
the Cathedral of St. Paul, London, in the Years 1732 and 1733.
SE R M ON I.
On the Truth of Christianity.
John III. 2.
come from God: For no Man can do these
HE Proposition contained in the Serm. I.
so circumstanced, as to be direct Evidences of a divine Power. By a Mira
Serm. I. cle, is meant an Effect evident to the
Senses, contrary to the fixed and established Course of Nature. Strange! that Man fhould disbelieve an Operation different from the present Course of Nature ; when Man himself, the first Man, from whom all the rest descended, could not have been brought into Being, but by an Act of Power different from the Course of Nature, as it is now established. For some first Man there must be: And, whoever he was, he must be brought upon the Theatre of Nature without Parents, without any second Causes, by the immediate Power and Will of the first, or, in other Words, by an Operation, which, if it were not, ítrictly speaking, a Miracle; was, at least, equivalent to one.
Nor is it at all improbable, that He, who called Man into Being, by a particular Difplay of Power, distinct from those general Laws, which obtain at present; would exert some unusual and uncommon Acts of Power for (what was of
greater Importance than his mere Being) his Well-Being, his eternal Well-Being. In the Prosecution of this Subject,
I, I shall attempt to shew, that several Ser 2. I.
IIdly, That we have sufficient Evidence, that such Miracles were wrought for the Confirmation of Religion.
It, I shall attempt to shew, that several Miracles are decisive Proofs of a divine Power.
What Powers evil Spirits may have, and what is the utmost Extent of their Abilities; it is beyond the Extent of ours, in all Cases, to determine: But that God would suffer them to exert those Powers in working superior and uncontroled Miracles; this I cannot admit: Because God is too good to permit such a Snare to be laid for the Bulk of Mankind, who will be always governed more by what affects their Şenses, than by those Arguments, which address themselves coldly to their Understandings. Striking and pompous Miracles, though they enforced a Doctrine seemingly absurd, would dazzle and overpower the Soul, and force an Admittance for it into the Mind: Whereas dry and