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A48888 The reasonableness of Christianity as delivered in the Scriptures Locke, John, 1632-1704. 1695 (1695) Wing L2751; ESTC R22574 121,736 314

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in their Duties and bring them to do them than by Reasoning with them from general Notions and Principles of Humane Reason And were all the Duties of Humane Life clearly demonstrated yet I conclude when well considered that Method of teaching men their Duties would be thought proper only for a few who had much Leisure improved Understandings and were used to abstract Reasonings But the Instruction of the People were best still to be left to the Precepts and Principles of the Gospel The healing of the Sick the restoring sight to the Blind by a word the raising and being raised from the Dead are matters of Fact which they can without difficulty conceive And that he who does such things must do them by the assistance of a Divine Power These things lye level to the ordinariest Apprehension He that can distinguish between sick and well Lame and sound dead and alive is capable of this Doctrine To one who is once perswaded that Jesus Christ was sent by God to be a King and a Saviour of those who do believe in him All his Commands become Principles There needs no other Proof for the truth of what he says but that he said it And then there needs no more but to read the inspired Books to be instructed All the Duties of Morality lye there clear and plain and easy to be understood And here I appeal whether this be not the surest the safest and most effectual way of teaching Especially if we add this farther consideration That as it suits the lowest Capacities of Reasonable Creatures so it reaches and satisfies Nay enlightens the highest And the most elevated Understandings cannot but submit to the Authority of this Doctrine as Divine Which coming from the mouths of a company of illiterate men hath not only the attestation of Miracles but reason to confirm it Since they delivered no Precepts but such as though Reason of it self had not clearly made out Yet it could not but assent to when thus discovered And think itself indebted for the Discovery The Credit and Authority our Saviour and his Apostles had over the minds of Men by the Miracles they did Tempted them not to mix as we find in that of all the Sects of Philosophers and other Religions any Conceits any wrong Rules any thing tending to their own by-interest or that of a Party in their Morality No tang of prepossession or phansy No footsteps of Pride or Vanity Ostentation or Ambition appears to have a hand in it It is all pure all sincere Nothing too much nothing wanting But such a compleat Rule of Life as the wisest Men must acknowledge tends entirely to the good of Mankind And that all would be happy if all would practise it 3. The outward forms of Worshipping the Deity wanted a Reformation Stately Buildings costly Ornaments peculiar and uncouth Habits And a numerous huddle of pompous phantastical cumbersome Ceremonies every where attended Divine Worship This as it had the peculiar Name so it was thought the principal part if not the whole of Religion Nor could this possibly be amended whilst the Jewish Ritual stood And there was so much of it mixed with the Worship of the True God To this also our Saviour with the knowledge of the infinite invisible supream Spirit brought a Remedy in a plain spiritual and suitable Worship Iesus says to the Woman of Samaria The hour cometh when ye shall neither in this Mountain nor yet at Jerusalem worship the Father But the True Worshippers shall worship the Father both in Spirit and in Truth For the Father seeketh such to worship To be Worshipped in Spirit and in Truth With application of Mind and sincerity of Heart was what God henceforth only required Magnificent Temples and confinement to certain Places were now no longer necessary for his Worship Which by a Pure Heart might be performed any where The splendor and distinction of Habits and pomp of Ceremonies and all outside Performances might now be spared God who was a Spirit and made known to be so required none of those but the Spirit only And that in publick Assemblies where some Actions must lie open to the view of the World All that could appear and be seen should be done decently and in order and to Edification Decency Order and Edification were to regulate all their publick Acts of Worship And beyond what these required the outward appearance which was of little value in the Eyes of God was not to go Having shut out indecency and confusions out of their Assemblies they need not be solicitous about useless Ceremonies Praises and Prayer humbly offered up to the Deity was the Worship he now demanded And in these every one was to look after his own Heart And know that it was that alone which God had regard to and accepted 4. Another great advantage received by our Saviour is the great incouragement he brought to a virtuous and pious Life Great enough to surmount the difficulties and obstacles that lie in the way to it And reward the pains and hardships of those who stuck firm to their Duties and suffered for the Testimony of a good Conscience The Portion of the Righteous has been in all Ages taken notice of to be pretty scanty in this World Virtue and Prosperity do not often accompany one another And therefore Virtue seldom had many Followers And 't is no wonder She prevailed not much in a State where the Inconveniencies that attended her were visible and at hand And the Rewards doubtful and at a distance Mankind who are and must be allowed to pursue their Happiness Nay cannot be hindred Could not but think themselves excused from a strict observation of Rules which appeared so little to consist with their chief End Happiness Whilst they kept them from the enjoyments of this Life And they had little evidence and security of another 'T is true they might have argued the other way and concluded That Because the Good were most of them ill treated here There was another place where they should meet with better usage But 't is plain they did not Their thoughts of another Life were at best obscure And their expectations uncertain Of Manes and Ghosts and the shades of departed Men There was some talk But little certain and less minded They had the Names of Styx and Acheron Of Elisian fields and seats of the Blessed But they had them generally from their Poets mixed with their Fables And so they looked more like the Inventions of Wit and Ornaments of Poetry than the serious perswasions of the grave and the sober They came to them bundled up amongst their tales And for tales they took them And that which rendred them more suspected and less useful to virtue was that the Philosophers seldom set on their Rules on Men's Minds and Practises by consideration of another Life The chief of their Arguments were from the excellency of Virtue And the highest they generally went was the exalting of humane
Christ of Nazareth whom ye crucified whom God raised from the dead even by him doth this man i. e. The lame man restored by Peter stand here before you whole This is the stone which is set at nought by you builders which is become the head of the Corner Neither is there Salvation in any other For there is none other name under Heaven given among men in which we must be saved Which in short is that Iesus is the only true Messiah Neither is there any other Person but he given to be a Mediator between God and Man in whose Name we may ask and hope for Salvation It will here possibly be asked Quorsum perditio hoec What need was there Of a Saviour What Advantage have we by Iesus Christ It is enough to justifie the fitness of any thing to be done by resolving it into the Wisdom of God who has done it Whereof our narrow Understandings and short Views may utterly 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 ken or guess 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 more than obscure intimations in Scripture And we shall take too much upon us if we shall call God's Wisdom or Providence to Account and pertly condemn for needless all that that our weak and perhaps biaffed Vnderstandings cannot Account for Though this general Answer be Reply enough to the forementioned Demand and such as a Rational Man or fair searcher after Truth will acquiesce in Yet in this particular case the Wisdom and Goodness of God has shewn it self so visibly to common Apprehensions that it hath furnished us abundantly wherewithal to satisfie the Curious and Inquisitive who will not take a Blessing unless they be instructed what need they had of it and why it was bestowed upon them The great and many Advantages we receive by the coming of Iesus the Messiah will shew that it was not without need that he was sent into the World The Evidence of our Saviour's Mission from Heaven is so great in the multitude of Miracles he did before all sorts of People which the Divine Providence and Wisdom has so ordered that they never were nor could be denied by any of the Enemies and Opposers of Christianity that what he delivered cannot but be received as the Oracles of God and unquestionable Verity Though the Works of Nature in every part of them sufficiently Evidence a Deity Yet the World made so little use of their Reason that they saw him not Where even by the impressions of himself he was easie to be found Sense and Lust blinded their minds in some And a careless Inadvertency in others And fearful Apprehensions in most who either believed there were or could not but suspect there might be Superiour unknown Beings gave them up into the hands of their Priests to fill their Heads with false Notions of the Deity and their Worship with foolish Rites as they pleased And what Dread or Craft once began Devotion soon made Sacred and Religion immutable In this state of Darkness and Ignorance of the true God Vice and Superstition held the World Nor could any help be had or hoped for from Reason which could not be heard and was judged to have nothing to do in the case The Priests every where to secure their Empire having excluded Reason from having any thing to do in Religion And in the croud of wrong Notions and invented Rites the World had almost lost the sight of the One only True God The Rational and thinking part of Mankind 't is true when they sought after him found the One Supream Invisible God But if they acknowledged and worshipped him it was only in their own minds They kept this Truth locked up in their own breast as a Secret nor ever durst venture it amongst the People much less amongst the Priests those wary Guardians of their own Creeds and Profitable Inventions Hence we see that Reason speaking never so clearly to the Wise and Vertuous had never Authority enough to prevail on the Multitude and to perswade the Societies of Men that there was but One God that alone was to be owned and worshipped The Belief and Worship of One God was the National Religion of the Israelites alone And if we will consider it it was introduced and supported amongst that People by Revelation They were in Goshen and had Light whilst the rest of the World were in almost Egyptian Darkness without God in the World There was no part of Mankind who had quicker Parts or improved them more that had a greater light of Reason or followed it farther in all sorts of Speculations than the Athenians And yet we find but one Socrates amongst them that opposed and laughed at their Polytheism and wrong Opinions of the Deity And we see how they rewarded him for it Whatsoever Plato and the soberest of the Philosophers thought of the Nature and Being of the One God they were fain in their outward Professions and Worship to go with the Herd and keep to the Religion established by Law Which what it was and how it had disposed the mind of these knowing and quick-sighted Grecians St. Paul tells us Acts XVII 22-29 Ye men of Athens says he I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious For as I passed by and beheld your Devotions I found an Altar with this Inscription TO THE VNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship him declare I unto you God that made the World and all things therein seeing that he is Lord of Heaven and Earth dwelleth not in Temples made with hands Neither is worshipped with mens hands as though he needed nay thing seeing he giveth unto all life and breath and all things And hath made of one Blood all the Nations of Men for to dwell on the face of the Earth And hath determined the times before appointed and the bounds of their Habitations That they should seek the Lord if haply they might feel him out and find him though he be not far from every one of us Here he tells the Athenians that they and the rest of the World given up to Superstition whatever Light there was in the Works of Creation and Providence to lead them to the True God yet they few of them found him He was every where near them yet they were but like People groping and feeling for something in the dark and did not see him with a full clear day-light But thought the Godhead like to Gold and Silver and Stone graven by Art and man's device In this state of Darkness and Error in reference to the