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THE CONCLUSION OF THE WHOLE, WITH AN ADDRESS TO
ND thus I have led my reader through a long course of
various reasoning, and perhaps as far as he is willing to follow me, though I hope his journey has not been without some pleasure that may deceive, and some profit that may in part reward the labour of it. I have shewn him what reason is, and what faith is, that so he may fee from the absolute natures of each what habitude and relation they have to one another, and how the darkness and obscurity of the latter may consist with the light and evidence of the former. I have also considered the distinction of things above reason and things contrary to reason, and shewn it to be real and well grounded, and to have all that is requisite to a good distinction. And for the further confirmation of it, I have also thewn that human reason is not the measure of truth. From which great principle (which I was the more willing to discourse at large and thoroughly to fcütle and establish be'cause of its moment and consequence to the concern in hand) I have deduced that weighty inference, that therefore the incomprehensibility of a thing is no concluding argument of its not being true, which consequence, for the greater security of it, because it is so con. siderable in the present controversy, I have also proved backwards, by thewing that if the incomprehensibility of a thing were an argument of its not being true, then human reason (contrary to what was before demonstrated) would be the measure of truth. Whence I infer again ex absurds, that therefore the incomprehensibility of a thing is no argument of its not being true. From this last consequence I infer another of no less moment and consideration, viz. That therefore the incomprehensibility of a thing is no argument against the belief of it neither, where also I consider that seemingly opposite maxim of Des Cartes, that we are to affent to nothing but what is clear and evident, and reconcile it to the other position. Whence my next step was to state the true use of reason in believing, which I Thewed to consist not in examining the credibility of the object, but in taking account of the certainty of the revelation, which when once resolved of we are no longer to dirpute, but believe. In fine, I have made an application of these considerations to the mysteries of the Christian faith, by shewing that they are never the less to be believed for being mysteries, supposing them otherwise sufficiently revealed, against which also I have shewn their incomprehensibility to be no objection. So that every way the great arguinent against the mysteries of the Chriftian faith taken from the incomprehensibility of them vanishes and' links into nothing. In all which I think I have effectually overthrown the general and fundamental ground of Socinianism, and truly in great measure that of Deism too, whose best argument against revealed religion in general, is, because the Christian, upon all accounts the most preferable of those that pretend to be revealed, contains so many things in it which transcend the comprehension of human understanding. But whether this best argument be really a good one or no, the whole procedure of this discourse may sufficiently shew, and whoever knows how to distinguish sophistry from good reasoning, may easily judge.
2. And now you gentlemen for whose fakes I have been at the pains to write this treatise, give me leave in a few words to address myself a little more particularly to you, and to exposa tulate with you. Whether it be the good opinion you have of your cause, or the present opportunity you have to appear in the behalf of it, that invites you so freely to come abroad as you have done of late, you have certainly (to give your courage its due) taken a very rational and polite age for it, and I hope the wise conduct of Providence may turn this juncture to the advantage
of the truth, and that the light to which you have adventured to expose your novel opinions may serve to make you see their ab- , surdities, if you do not too obstinately shut your eyes against it. Some of you are considerable masters of reason (otherwise truly I should not think it worth while to argue with you and you all profess great devotion to it (I wish you do not make it an idol) and to be very zealous and affectionate disciples of it. Reason is the great measure by which you pretend to go, and the judge to whom in all things you appeal. Now I accept of your measure, and do not refuse to be tried in the court of your own choosing. Accordingly you see I have dealt with you all along upon the ground of logic, and in a rational way, being very confident that reason alone will discover to you your undue elevations of it, and the errors you have been mised into by that occasion, if you do but consult even this oracle of yours as you ought, and make a right use of its sacred light.
3. But I am afraid you do not. Instead of employing your reason in the first place to examine the certainty of the revelation, whether such a thing be truly revealed, and if so, to believe it notwithstanding its being incomprehensible, your method is to begin with the quality of the object, to consider whether it be comprehensible or no, and accordingly to proceed in your belief or disa belief of its being revealed. It is true indeed you are not so grofs as to argue thus, this is comprehensible therefore it is revealed. But you cannot deny but that you argue thus, this is incomprehensible, therefore it is not revealed, proceeding upon this general principle, that though whatever is comprehensible is not iherefore presently revealed, yet whatever is revealed must be comprehenfible. But now judge you whether this be not to make your reason the rule and measure of divine revelation, that is, that God can reveal nothing to you but what you can comprehend, or, that you are able to comprehend all that God can possibly reveal (for otherwife how is your not being able to comprehend any thing an argument of its not being revealed) I say consider whether this be not to set up your reason as the rule of revelation, and consider again whether this does not resolve either into a very low opinion you have of God and his infinite perfections, or an extravagantly high one you haie of yourselves and your own rational endowments.
4. And yet as if this were not presumption enough, do you not also make your reason the rule of faith, as well as of reve
lation? To be the rule of faith is a very great thing, and yet so far it is plain that you make your reason the rule of faith, that you will allow nothing to be believed but whose bottom you can sound by that line ; this being an avowed principle with you that you are to believe nothing but what you can comprehend. But hold a little, before your reason can be the measure of faith, must it not be the measure of trath? And I pray consider seriously, and tell me truly, do you verily think in your consciences that your reason is the ineasure of truth? Do you think your rational faculties proportioned to every intelligible object, and that you are able to comprehend all the things that are, and that there is nothing in the whole extent of science too high, too difficult, or too abstruse for you; no one part of this vast intellectual sea but what you can wade through? If you say yes, besides the blasphemous presumption and luciferian arrogance of the assertion, and how little, it falls on this side of fimilis ero altissimo, which banished the vain. glorious angel from the court of heaven, because nothing less would content his aspiring ambition than to be as God there (though by the way there is more sense and congruity of reason in pretending to be a God in heaven, than to be a God upon earth) I say besides this, I would put it to your more sober thought to consider whether it be not every whit as great an extremity in the way of rational speculation to dogmatize so far as to pretend to comprehend every thing, as to say with the Sceptics and PhyrThonians that we know nothing: the latter of which however in regard of its moral consequences may be more innocently and safely affirmed than the former, since in that we only humbly degrade ourselves, and are content to sink down into the level of brutes, whereas in this we aspire to what is infinitely above us, and advance ourselves into the seat of God. And you know an excess of self-dejection is of the two the more tolerable extreme. But if you say that your reason is not the mcasure of truth (as upon this, and the other considerations there lies a necesiiy upon you to confess) how then, I pray, comes it 10 be the measure of your faith, and how come you to lay down this for a maxim, that you. will believe nothing but what you can comprehend? Why, if your reason be not the measure of truth (and you yourselves care not, and I believe are ashamed in terms to say that it is) then do you not evidently discern that there is no consequence from the incomprehensibility of a thing to the incredibility of it, and that you
have no reason to deny your belief to a thing as true, merely upon the