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in appearance only; that this very Lett, where it is real, makes way for a more rapid progress afterwards ; which seems to bring matters into the same State, upon the whole, as if they had been all the while progressive. Farther, every one that looks into the History of the World must observe, that the Minds of Men have all along been gradually opened by a Train of Events, still improving upon, and adding light to each other; as that of each individual is, by proceeding from the first Elements and Seeds of Science, to more enlarged views; and a ftill higher growth. Mankind are not, nor ever have been, capable of entering into the Depths of Knowledge at once; of receiving a whole System of Natural or Moral Truths together ; but must be let into them by degrees; and have them communicated by little and little, as they are able to bear it. In this manner does every Art and Science make its way into the world : And though now and then an extraordinary Genius may arise, and reach as it were some Ages beyond that in which he lives; yet how
very few of his Contemporaries are able to follow him, or even understand what he delivers ! The generality still go on step by step in gather
• Nor will this on examination be found inconfistent with what a late judicious Writer has observ'd in his Discourses on 2 Tim. 3. 15, 16, 17. [Dr. Hiffery's Tracts, V. 2. p. 179. &c.] concerning the Sacred History of the Institution, Corruption and Reformation of Religion under the Patriarchs, fews and Christians; since we have reason to believe that in each thorough Reformation of Religion, the minds of Men are generally prepared to enter more fully into the Plan, and arrive at a more clear and complete discovery of its several ends and uses, than at its original Institution. v. infra p..
ing up, and digesting, some small portions of that vast Atock of Knowledge, which he pour'd out at once ; and are for a long time, in respect to him, but mere Children. So that notwithstanding a few such extraordinary instances, I think, we may affirm in general, that from the beginning of the world, Science, or all kinds of intellectual Accomplishments, have been found to make very flow, and pretty regular, advances among the bulk of Mankind; but that upon the whole, advancing they have been, and are.
This, I say, is generally so in fact; * and therefore will have place in religious, as well as all other Truths, among men either taken collectively, or in each individual. Why the case is thus in both; why all are not adult at once, in Body and Mind, concerns not Revelation to account for, so much as the Religion of Nature; at least they are here, as in the former case, both on the fame foot; and the fame Principles may be
applied to each of them. And though in this respect, the Divine Dispensations seem to differ from Human Arts and Sciences, that these are commonly the most rude and imperfect at first, and every part of them improving by repeated Tryal; whereas the others have all that purity and perfection at their Delivery, which they are designed to have; and rather lose, in some respects, than get by length of time ; yet will not this make any material difference on the whole.
To state this matter right; we ought to distinguilh as well between the Delivery of a Doctrine,
· A more particular Proof of this will be given in the 3d Part.
and its general Reception in the world; which we know is always according to the Measure of the Recipients only; and which must chiefly depend upon the State, and Qualifications of the Age they live in: as also, between the supernatural Aflirtance, and extraordinary Impressions, at its first publication ; and the ordinary State in which it appears, and the usual progress it makes, so soon as ever these shall come to cease; and it is left to be continued by mere human means; (as we have shewn before that it must fometime be) when we shall find it partaking of the taste, and temper of the Times through which it passes ; and propagated in the fame gradual, partial manner, as all other parts of Science, all Human Acquisitions and Improvements are.
Let us proceed then to consider the several Dispensations of Religion in this light, and see whether each will not appear to have been delivered in its proper Season, and as soon as it became fully necessary; and likewise whether each was not as perfect as it could be fupposed to have been, considering the season in which it was delivered; and every subsequent one, an improvement on all those that went before.
We will enquire First, what provision God made for the Instruction of Mankind in the Infancy of the World ; and whether it was expedient to send his Son upon their first Transgression.
Now we have reason to suppose that Adam, during his state of Innocence, held constant communication with the Deity; a from whence he
a Gen. 2.23, 24, compared with Matth. 19.5. Mark 10.7. and 1 Cor.6.16. See Bp. Bull on the Subject. Diss.p.182, &c.
receiv'd his information of things, and was directed in the use of them. And if he had been content to follow that Direction, he would undoubtedly have been secured from any pernicious Errors; and supplied with all the Initruction, and Asistance, which was necessary for him ; and trained up by degrees to as thorough an acquaintance with the Nature of God, and the things around him, as was agreeable to his own Nature ; and consistent with his State and Circumstances in the World. But upon his rejecting this Guide, and applying elsewhere for Knowledge, and setting up to be his own Director ; that Communication might, both with justice and wisdom, be in a great measure withdrawn from him, and he left to the imperfect notice of his Senses ; to learn the Nature of Good and Evil, and the way to obtain the one, and avoid the other, by a painful experience. bo Yet was he not left wholly to himself in the affair of Religion; but directed to such a form of Worship, as serv'd to point out, and perpetually remind him, both of the demerit of his Crime, and the dreadfulness of that Penalty which he had incurred; and also
Only let it be observ’d, that what this learned Author, with some others, attributes to Divine Inspiration, in this case, seems to be more naturally accounted for from an express, Qral Revelation made to Adam.
Gen. 1.28. -- 30.2.29. See the Authors referred to by Patrick on Gen. 2. 27.
bb See A Bp King's Sermon on the Fall. And Mr. Bate on the fame Subject.
What that was may be seen in Hallet's Discourses, V.2. p. 276, &c. Bp. Sherlock Use and Intent of Proph. p. 142, 143. 2d Éd. Mr. Taylor on Or. Sin. paflim. or at the beginning of Locke's Reasonableness of Christianity; or in the second Discourse hereunto annex’d.
some hopes of a future Pardon, and a final Acceptance with his Creator.
All this seems to have been signified by the Institution of Animal Sacrifices, setting before him all the Horrors of that Death, which he had been sentenced to undergo ; but which was hitherto suspended ; and that of some other Creatures demanded in its room, by way of ransom and expiation made to the Lord of Life. This, together with the Promise of a future Deliverance, in the Seed of the Woman, serv'd for the present to afford fome comfort to our first Parents under their heavy sentence; and to convince them, that their offended Maker was not wholly implacable ; as well as to lead their Posterity to fuch Notions of Religion, and kind of Worship, as should constantly reconcile them to the Deity, and remove the Guilt of their particular Offences ; and also prepare them for the great Attonement, to be ofs fer'd in due time; which was to take off the whole of Adam's Curse, and restore both him and his Posterity to that immortal Life which he had forfeited : « Nay, raise them to a much higher degree of Happiness, than he could have conceiv'd to
After all that has been wrote upon the subject of Sacrifices, I am still forced to ascribe their Origin to Divine Appointment: and as to the Intention of them, though we may conceive some to have been at first enjoin'd as proper acknowledgements of God's Dominion over the Creatures, and of Man's holding that share of it which was delegated to him from his hand, and enjoying all earthly Blessings through his Bounty : - some by way of positive Mulet, Fine, or Forfeiture. [Abarb. ex. com. in Lev. p. 313. Cleric, in Lev. 1. 2. Morality of Rel. p. 35.] to render every breach of Duty burdensome, and in some measure expensive to the Sinner ;some for a Testimony or Symbolical Representation of his Repentance, his Confession of such breach and Deprecation of its