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which it is very natural, and no less pertinent to the concern in hand to make this further refiection, that we should not be over hasty to pronounce any thing, (even of a physical, much less of a religious nature,) to be imposlible, only because it appears to us to be incomprehensible. For besides that the incomprehensibility of a thing is (as this whole discourse shews) no certain argument of its impoffibility, and that appears incomprehensible to our understandings may at the same time be well comprehended by those of angels, rot to say of wiser men, perhaps that which appears to vis at present to be above all comprehension, may in process of time, and upon further reflection and experience, so brighten and clear up to our minds, as to be comprehended, or at least to be thought of a comprehensible and posible nature even by our more improved selves. For the incomprehensibility of a thing as fuch being no absolute affection or intrinsic denomination of the thing itself from its own nature, but only such as affects it froin without, and in relation to the present capacity of our understandings, there needs no alteration in the nature of the thing to make that comprehensible which was before incomprehensible, a change in our undejstandings is sufficient, upon whose greater improvement alone an incomprehensible may become a comprehensible object. So that besides the nullity of the consequence from the incomprehenfibility of a thing to its impossibility, even the principle itself from which that consequence is pretended to be drawn may be removed, by the present comprehension of what passed before with us for an incomprehensible propofition. Upon both which considerations we are admonished to be very cautious how we conclude any thing in nature', much more in Scripture, to be imposible, because to us incomprehensible. And it is the very use Mr. Whilton himself makes of the latter of them in the conclusion of his excellent work, from which I think it worth while to tranfcribe a passage both for the advantage of the present argument, and the greater conviction of the reader, to whom, as well as to myself, it must be no little fatisfaclion to see the sentiments of fo great an author concur with mine.
“ The measure of our present knowledge *,” says he, ought not to be eftcomed the xpiry proy, or test of truth, (the very propofition almost in terms of my fourth chapter) or to be opposed
to the accounts received from prophane antiquity, much less to the inspired writings. For notwithstanding that several particulars relating to the eldest condition of the world and its great catastrophes, examined and compared with so much philosophy as was till lately known, were plainly unaccountable, and, naturally speaking, impossible ; yet we see now nature is more fully, more certainly, and more substantially understood, that the same things approve themselves to be plain, easy, and rational. It is therefore folly in the highest degree to reject the truth or divine authority of the holy Scriptures, because we cannot give our minds particular satisfaction as to the manner, nay, or even possibility of some things therein asserted. Since we have seen so many of those things which seemed the most incredible in the whole Bible, and gave the greatest scruple and scandal to philosophic minds, so fully and particularly attested, and next to demonstrated from certain principles of astronomy and natural knowledge, it is but reasonable to expect in due time a like solution of the other difficulties. It is but just sure to depend upon the veracity of those holy writers in other affertions, whose fidelity is so entirely established in these hitherto equally unaccountable ones. The obvious, plain, or literal sense of the sacred Scriptures ought not without great reason to be eluded, or laid aside : several of those very places which seemed very much to require the same hitherto, appearing now to the minutest circumstances true and rational, according to the strictest and most literal interpretation of them. We may be under an obligation to believe such things on the authority of the holy Scriptures as are properly mysteries; that is, though not really contradictory, yet plainly unaccountable to our (present degree of) knowledge and reason. Thus the sacred histories of the original constitution, and great catastrophes of the world, have been in the past ages the objects of the faith of Jews and Christians, though the divine Providence had not afforded so much light as that they could otherwise satisfy themselves in the credibility of them, till the new improvements in philosophy. And this is but just and reasonable: for sure the ignorance or incapacity of the creature does by no means afford sufficient ground for incredulity, or justify men in their rejecting divine revelation, and impeaching the veracity or providence of the creator.” With which weighty, and to the present purpose very pertinent words of this worthy author I seal up my own, and leave them both to the consideration of the reader.
P R E S ER V A T I V E
THE IMPIETY AND ABSURDITY OF THEIR PRIN
CIPLES ARE CLEARLY SHEWN.
BY A COUNTRY CLERGYMAN
PRESERV A T I V E
SOCINI ANIS M.
MY DRAR BRETHREN, ,
think they have a right to do, and say, what they please. Thus, far, indeed, we are still under the protection of the law, that one man cannot shoot another through the head, without being Hanged for it; unless he does it upon a principle of honour. But he may asperse characters, accuse the innocent, put darkness for light, and light for darkness, blafpheme God, dishonour the king, and expose the nakedness of his country, without being called to any account. He may erect a literary star-chamber, wherein all works, in defence of true religion, and the polity of the church of England, are misrepresented, and mangled, without justice or mercy, for five-and-thirty years together ; their ears cropped, their noses llit, and thus disfigured they are turned out into the streets, to be scorned by the public; who are hence to collect, that our faith is defenceless, and our writers ridiculous.
Before the flood of Noah, the earth was filled with violence, God was despised, all goodness was trampled under foot, and men were too far gone to take any warning. The Gospel tells us it shall be so again: and all good people, who are not imposed upon by empty sounds, can plainly see that licentiousness, so loudly glorified under the name of liberty in these latter days, will be the grand instrument in bringing the new world up to that degree of corruption, which destroyed the old.