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Ser M. to every Man, and every A&tion of Man, XV. howeyer they may escape it here in this
Life, through the Chance that belongs to Time. But to proceed, There was always I say, a Foundation for a Revelation from God, to supply the Defect of human Reafon, and People always pretended to one, and accordingly have ever appointed an Order of Men to officiate in this divine Intercourse between God and Man, and to fet aside their Time and Study to explain it to others. Now, 'tis monstrous to suppose, that the private Judgment of any one Man could be of fo much Signification, where this Revelation has been pretended, whether that of the Jews, or this of the Christians, either to himself or to others, as the united Judgment of a Body of Men, whofe whole Business it was (besides their being Men of equal Parts, for this muft be fuppos'd, where we talk of Bodies of Men, and also the superior Afliftance they are justly, especially in the Chriftian Religion, luppos’d to have,) to look into thefe Mata ters, and stand in a better Situation for it than any others can possibly do. If private Judgment is not sufficient to carry a Man any great Lengths in civil Affairs; if it will not help him to attain any Art or Science
without the Allistance of those that have SERM. made such a particular Art, their Study (and XV. he can only know his Proportion as he stands to it) much less can it do any great Matter in Religion; for we stand in no better a Situation in this Case, than in the other, nor in so good a one, becaufe those who are appointed for Guides in these Affairs, besides, that this is their Belief and Employment, are suppos’d by the Christian Scheme to have a double Portion of the Spirit to aslift them. And indeed, whoever considers the Importance of the Christian Religion, together with the Difficulties that muft of course attend the Study of it, partly from the Language in which it was written, which has for many Years become a dead one, and partly from the Nature of the Writings themselves from particular Customs and Circumstances of thofe Times, so that a competent Skill in those Things is requisite, in order to the better understanding them, and explaining them to others, will see the great Reafon and. Necessity that a Set of Men should be employ'd about these Things, and the Necefsity likewise of their being assisted by the Spirit of God. 'Tis true, the Precepts of Christianity are plain and easy, and for the most Part level to the meanest CapaciRr2
Serm. ties, but then a good deal is not so, a XV. that which is, would have been a dead Let
ter still, had they not been translated from the original Language for the use of ordinary People. And besides, were they, as to the whole, ever so plain and easy, yet the wiseft are so subject to the Infirmities of human Nature that they want frequently to be reminded of them, or else they would have but little effect, which also shews the Necessity there is for an Order of Men to be fet apart for that Purpose, which I conie now, 2dly to, consider.
It can be but of very little Signification, that there is this Provision made for Mankind, if they will not, like the Person in the Text, shew a teachable Disposition. What Use can a Guide be of to one, who thinks he wants none, who is in his own Opinion all. sufficient ? To say now-a-days, how can l understand except fome Man teach me? would pass among some for nothing but Banter and Grimace: The Language now is, : I will learn of none, I have a Right to act and think for myself; and no one has any Business to deprive me of it by any Authority whatsoever, and to set himself up for my Instructor: But however this may provail among fome few conceited Men, and
whatever ill Opinions they may entertain of SERM.
SÆRM. one Man only (for no single Man can have XV.
any more than a certain Proportion of it) and especially to great Bodies and Societies of Men for the better Establishment of it in the World. It is right therefore to give them a proper Credit beyond a single Man ; for if it is right to give Credit to a·nother as well as one's felf, it is right to give them more in exact Proportion to their Number, their Abilities and Opportunities of finding out the Truth beyond our Selves. For tho' Number may feem to some of no great Signification in this case, abftracted from all other Considerations, Number and nothing else ; yet if we consider it with an Addition of Judgment and Understanding, they must be of great Weight; for if one is of any Signification, two is of double, three treble that Proportion, and so on. Suppose Men to be near upon a Par; where they are not fo, an Allowance must be made more or less in Proportion, but some Additional Weight in every Addition of Num· ber there must be still. Indeed as long as : we are Imperfect and fubject to Infirmity, ''tis necessary there should be fome Supply for this; and fo there is, for the Deficiencies are supplied by the Abilities of others, who according to the Differences of their