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novelty, and urged nothing more plausibly than the argument of immemorial prescription for their superstition. They would not consider whether it were just and reasonable, but with a blind deference yielded up themselves to the authority of the ancients. They resolved not to condemn their parents and friends, that had gone before them in the road of damnation, but chose to die in their idolatry. So hard is it to resist the current of the world, and to rescue ourselves from the bondage of popular errors.—The pomp of the pagan worship was very pleasing to the flesh. The magnificence of their temples adorned with the trophies of superstition, their mysterious ceremonies, their mușic, their processions, their images and altars, their sacrifices and purifications, and the rest of the equipage of a carnal religion, drew their respects, and strongly affected their minds through their senses ; whereas the religion of the gospel is spiritual and serious, holy and pure, and hath nothing to move the carnal part. Now how difficult was it to overcome paganism when fortified by antiquity, universality, and so agreeable to sense! How hard was it to free men from the double tyranny of custom from without, and blind affections from within !

Secondly; the depravation of manners was such in the heathen world, that if the unclean spirits had been incarnate, and taken their residence among men, they could not have acted worse villanies. The whole earth was covered with abominations, as Egypt with the frogs that poisoned the whole climate. We may see a picture of their conversation in the first to the Romans. And it could be no otherwise ; for as the apostle saith, “those who are drunk, are drunk in the night,” so when the mind is darkened with ignorance and error, the affections are corrupted, and men give up themselves to the “unfruitful works of darkness." Unnatural crimes were committed even among the Grecians and Romans, with that liberty, as if no spark of common reason had remained in them. The most filthy lusts had lost the fear and shame that naturally attends them. They esteemed those things to be the means to obtain happiness, that were the causes of the contrary. They placed their sovereign good in extreme evil, that is, sinful pleasures. They were encouraged to “work all uncleanness with greediness," not only upon the account of present impunity, for their laws left almost all vices indifferent but what dis

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turbed the tranquillity of the state ; and not only by the multitude of examples, so that vices by their commonness had lost their names, and were styled virtues; nay, it was a crime to appear innocent among the guilty; but principally because they thought themselves secure as to a future state ; for either they wholly disbelieved it, and it is congruous that those who think to die like beasts, should live like beasts; or else, by attributing to their deities those passions and vices that so powerfully reigned in themselves, they were strongly persuaded no punishment would be inflicted; for how could the gods make them sacrifices to their justice, who were companions with them in their crimes ? or revenge the imitation of their own actions ? This was to cast down the banks, and to let the torrent of corrupt nature break forth in all its fury; as St. Austin observes of Homer, the father of poetical fictions, that representing the murders, thefts, and adulteries of their gods, he made those sins divine properties, and effectually commended them to the heathens; Quisquis ea fecisset, non homines perditos sed cælestes deos videbatur imitatus.” And he gives an instance of this from a comedy of Terence, where a vicious young man is introduced, reporting how he animated himself to satisfy his brutish lust, as having no less a deity than Jupiter for his master and model. In short, the theology of the Pagans inflamed them to the bold commission of every pleasant sin. The history of their gods was so interspersed with the most infamous impurities, that at the first reading,

verterunt pupillas virgines in meretrices;" they lost the virginity of their eyes, then of their souls, and then of their bodies. Now the gospel is a holy discipline that forbids all excesses, that enjoins universal purity and chastity; so that when it was first preached to the heathens, they thought it impossible to be obeyed, unless men were angels without bodies, or statues without souls.

(2.) I shall add farther, that the aversion of the heathens from Christianity was much strengthened by those, who were in veneration among them and vehemently opposed it. And they were the philosophers greatly esteemed for wisdom, their priests that had dominion over their consciences, and their princes that had power over their states and lives.

First; philosophers vehemently opposed the receiving of the gospel. At the first view it may be just matter of wonder that they should be enemies to it whether we consider


the object of faith or the rules of life laid down in it. The objects of faith were new and noble, of infinite beauty and profit, and most worthy of a rational contemplation to be exercised upon them. Now that the philosophers who were so diligent to improve their minds, who received with complacency truths of a lower descent and of infinitely less importance, should reject evangelical truths, sublime in their nature, saving in their efficacy, and revealed from heaven, what account can be given of it? Tertullian reproaches them with reason, that the Christian faith was the only thing, which curiosity did not tempt them to search into; “Hic solùm curiositas humana torpescit.” Besides, whereas the gospel is a plain and perfect institution for the government of life, wholly conversant about the souls of men, and assures a blessedness infinitely more excellent than was ever thought of by them, it might have been expected that those who in regard to morality seemed most to approach to it, and whose professed design was to search after happiness, should have readily entertained and used their best endeavours to have drawn others to embrace it. But if we consider things aright, our wonder will vanish ; for their knowledge and morality, which in themselves were preparatives, yet accidentally hindered their submission to the gospel, and caused the most potent prejudices against it; and that upon a double account,-of pride of satisfaction in their own way.

Pride was their universal disease. They had a liberal esteem of themselves as raised above the common rank of men, and were lovers of glory more than of wisdom. And because philosophy had instructed them in some truths, they believed its false as well as true dictates, and concluded all things impossible that did not concur with their old tenets : they admitted no higher principle than natural reason, and utterly rejected divine revelation; which was as unreasonable as if one that never saw but the light of a candle, should contend that there was no other light in the world. Now a person that doth not believe divine revelation, is wholly unqualified to judge of supernatural mysteries ; for till the authority of the revealer is submitted to, he cannot truly consider their cause and their end. Besides, they looked on it as a reproach, that any secret should be revealed to others and not to them. It seemed to darken their glory, that any school should be more knowing than theirs. Therefore they chose to be instructers of error, rather than disciples to the truth. And farther, they thought their honour concerned to defend the principles they had once espoused. From hence arose the great contentions between themselves, accompanied with invectives and satires, being very jealous for their opinions, and passionate for the interest of their sects. Now the gospel was in some things contrary to all of them, so that being imperious and impatient of contradiction and touched in their tenderest part, no wonder they were so violent against it. They were unwilling to receive a doctrine that discovered their errors, and lessened their esteem. Our Saviour asks the Jews, “How can ye believe which receive honour one of another, and seek not the nonour that cometh from God only ?" John v. 44. He propounds it as an impossible thing. The gospel would strip them of all their pretended excellencies, and divest them of many vain conceptions adorned with so much art, and commanded as its first article, they should humbly resign their understandings to divine revelation; this they looked on as a submission unworthy of their refined, strong spirits.

They had satisfaction in their own imperfect virtues. Because they did some things to recover the human nature from its degenerate state, they were more confirmed in their infidelity than the grossest idolaters and the most vicious persons; for the more probable arguments they had to obtain happiness in their own way, the more obstinately they refused any other. They thought there was no need of supernatural revelation to direct, nor of supernatural grace to assist them; but without the intercession of a Saviour and the power of the Holy Spirit, they had self-sufficiency to obtain perfection and felicity. Like foolish chemists that have melted away a great part of their estates in vain, and little remaining to support their wretched lives, yet in expectation of the great elixir, create in their fancies treasures of gold, to enrich themselves: So the philosophers who wasted their time and spirits in searching after happiness to little purpose, although the best of their principles and the height of their virtue were insufficient to support them under any pressing afflictions, yet they had vain hopes of obtaining perfect tranquillity and content by them. Now the gospel commanding an entire renouncing of ourselves, to embrace the sole goodness and will of God, it was hard for those who were so full of pride and vanity to relish a doctrine so contrary to them. In truth, whatever the philosophers pretended concerning the incredibility that the Son of God should suffer death, yet it was not so much the cross to which Christ was nailed by his enemies that made them reject the gospel, as the other cross to which Jesus would fasten them, that is, the strict and holy discipline to which he commands them to submit; a discipline that condemns their vain boasting of wisdom and virtue, that mortifies sensual pleasures which many of the philosophers indulged themselves in, notwithstanding all their discourses of the purgative and illuminative life. And that this was the real cause of their rejecting a crucified Saviour, is evident, for . they knew that sufferings of the worst kind are not always infamous, but must be esteemed according to the quality of their causes and ends. Those who for public good generously expose themselves to disgrace and misery, are honoured for their heroic courage as patriots of the noblest strain. And it is not unusual for persons of extraordinary wisdom and virtue to suffer in the world. Their presence and example upbraid the vicious, and wound their spirits, as a great light distempered and sore eyes. And some of them acknowledged the wisdom of providence in permitting this for an excellent end, that virtue tried in the fire might be more resplendent. Plato, an eminent philosopher, describes a man truly just, by this proof of his integrity, that he shall suffer the loss of estate and honour ; be scourged, racked, bound, and have his eyes plucked out, and after the enduring of all miseries, at last be crucified. Socrates, so admired by them, was so disguised by the malice of his enemies, that he was condemned to die by poison; yet this was so far from obscuring his reputation, that his suffering death was esteemed the most noble effect of his courage, and the most excellent proof of his virtue. Why then should they make a contrary judgment of our Redeemer's sufferings, whose innocence was perfect, and whose patience was so holy and divine, that in the midst of his torments he prayed for his murderers? No reason can be justly alledged, but some darling lust, spiritual or fleshly, which they were resolved to cherish. The light that comes from above illuminates the humble and dazzles the proud. The presumption of their own knowledge, was the cause of their prodigious, stupidity. Simple ignorance is not so dangerous as error: a false light that deceives and leads to precipices is worse

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