« FöregåendeFortsätt »
imagined, to make confession of his faith; and, consequently, this word, so used, admits a threefold consideration: first, as it supposeth belief, or faith, which is confessed. Secondly, as it is a confession, or external expression of that faith so supposed. Thirdly, as both the faith and confession are of necessary and particular obligation. When, therefore, we shall have clearly delivered, first, What is the true nature and notion of belief; secondly, What the duty of confessing of our faith; thirdly, What obligation lies upon every particular person to believe and confess; then may we be conceived to have sufficiently explicated the first word of the CREED, then may every one understand what it is he says, and upon what ground he proceeds, when he professeth, I believe.
For the right understanding of the true nature of christian faith, it will be no less than necessary to begin with the general notion of belief; which being first truly stated and defined, then by degrees deduced into its several kinds, will at last make the nature of christian faith intelligible: a design, if I mistake not, not so ordinary and usual, as useful and necessary.
Belief in general I define to be an assent to that which is credible, as credible. By the word assent? is expressed that act or habit of the understanding, by which it receiveth, acknowledgeth, and embraceth any thing as a truth; it being
Πίστις δέ-πρόληψις εκούσιος έστι, θεοσεβείας συγκατάθεσις. Clem. Alex. Strom. 1. ii. [c. 2, p. 432.] Ilotus μεν ουν εστί συγκατάθεσις αδιάκριτος των ακουσθέντων εν πληροφορία της αληθείας των κηρυχθέντων θεου χάριτι. . S. Basil. Ascet. de Fide, c. 1. [Vol. II. p. 224 c.] The Basilidians, 'Opiζονται γούν οι από Βασιλείδου την πίστιν ψυχής συγκατάθεσιν πρός τι των μη κινούντων αίσθησιν διά το μή παρείναι. . Clem. Alex. Strom. 1. ii. [c. 6, p. 443.] Κατά δε τον ημέτερον λόγον, πίστις εστίν εκούσιος της ψυχής συγ: karácols. Theodoret. Therap. Serm. 1. [Vol. iv. p. 717.] And yet he also afterward acknowledgeth they had that definition from the Greeks: Trv μεν γαρ πίστιν και οι υμέτεροι φιλόσοφοι ωρίσαντο είναι εθελούσιον της ψυχής ouykatábeow. "Credere-est cum assensione cogitare. S. August. [de Prædestin. Sanct. & 5. Vol. x. p. 792
E.] Et de Spir. et Litter, ad Mar. cellin. lib. (8 54. Vol. x. p. 116 A.] 'Quid est credere, nisi consentire verum esse quod dicitur?' So I take the ovykatáderis used by the Greek fathers to signify assensum or assensionem, as A. Gellius translateth the Stoic, συγκατατίθεται, εια assensione approbat, 1. xix, 1. and before him Cicero, “Nunc de assensione atque approbatione, quam Græci ovykatáDeow vocant, pauca dicamus.' [In Lucullo, $ 37.] Acad. Quæst. ii. 12. So απιστία and συγκατάθεσις, are opposed by the Greeks. As Sextus Empiricus, speaking of Admetus seeing Alcestis brought back by Hercules from Hades: Eπει μέντοι ήδει ότι τέθνηκεν, περιεσπάτο αυτού ή διάνοια από της συγκαταθέσεως, και προς áriotiav & Alvey, Pyrrh. Hypot. l. i. 33.
the nature of the soul so to embrace whatsoever appeareth true unto it, and so far as it so appeareth. Now this assent, , or judgment of any thing to be true, being a general act of the understanding, and so applicable to other habits thereof as well as to faith, must be specified by its proper object, and so limited and determined to its proper act, which is the other part left to complete the definition.
This object of faith is first expressed by that which is credible; for every one who believeth any thing, doth thereby without question assent unto it as to that which is credible: and therefore all belief whatsoever is such a kind of assent. But though all belief be an assent to that which is credible, yet every such assent may not be properly faith; and therefore those words make not the definition complete. For he which sees an action done, knows it to be done, and therefore assents unto the truth of the performance of it because he sees it: but another person to whom he relates it, may assent unto tbe performance of the same action, not because himself sees it, but because the other relates it; in which case that which is credible is the object of faith in one, of evident knowledge in the other. To make the definition therefore full, besides the material object or thing believed, we have added the formal object, or that whereby it is properly believed, expressed in the last term, as credible, which being taken in, it then appears, that, first, Whosoever believeth any thing, assenteth to something which is to him credible, and that as it is credible; and again, Whosoever assenteth to any thing which is credible, as it is credible, believeth something by so assenting: which is sufficient to shew the definition complete.
1 Φιλαλήθης ή ψυχή ουδέποτε κατά nition of faith: "Αλλοι δ' αφανούς το ψεύδος ανεχoμένη διατίθεσθαι, αλλά πράγματος ενωτικήν συγκατάθεσιν απέ . κατα φανεν αληθες πάντως και ευθύς. . δωκαν είναι την πίστιν, ώσπερ αμέλει Simplic. in 3. Arist. de Anima. [p. την απόδειξιν αγνοουμένου πράγματος 59.] Κάν τις ταληθές σκοπη, ευρήσει pavepàv ovykaráðeow. Strom. 1. ii. τον άνθρωπον φύσει διαβεβλημένον μεν [c. 2. p. 433.] And again: IIâoa oiv προς την του ψεύδους συγκατάθεσιν, δόξα, και κρίσις, και υπόληψις, και έχοντα δε αφορμας πρός πίστιν ταληθούς. . μάθησις, οίς ξωμεν και σύνεσμεν αιεί, Clem. Alez. Stron. 1. ii. [c. 12. p. 458.] τω γένει των ανθρώπων συγκατάθεσής
. As ouykarácous, the Greek έστιν ή δ' ουδέν άλλο ή πίστις είη word used for this assent, is applied άν ή τε απιστία, αποσύστασις ούσα to other acts of the understanding της πίστεως, δυνατήν δείκνυσι την συγas well as that of belief, 8o Clemens karácolv te kai nioti. [Strom. I. ii. Alexandrinus speaking of the defi. c. 12. p. 458.]
But for the explication of the same, farther observations 3 will be necessary. For if that which we believe be something which is credible, and the notion under which we believe be the credibility of it, then must we first declare what it is to be credible, and in what credibility doth consist, before we can understand what is the nature of belief.
Now that is properly credible which is not apparent of itself, nor certainly to be collected, either antecedently by its cause, or reversely by its effect; and yet, though by none of these ways, hath the attestation of a truth. For those things which are apparent of themselves, are either so in respect of our sense, as, that snow is white, and fire is hot: or in respect of our understanding, as, that the whole of any thing is greater than any one part of the whole, that every thing imaginable either is or is not. The first kind of which being propounded to our sense, one to the sight, the other to the touch, appear of themselves immediately true, and therefore are not termed credible, but evident to sense; as the latter kind, propounded to the understanding, are immediately embraced and acknowledged as truths apparent in themselves, and therefore are not called credible, but evident to the understanding. And so those things which are apparent', are not said properly to be believed, but to be known.
Again, other things, though not immediately apparent in themselves, may yet appear most certain and evidently true, by an immediate and necessary connexion with something formerly known: for, being every natural cause actually applied doth necessarily produce its own natural effect, and every natural effect wholly dependeth upon, and absolutely presupposeth its own proper cause; therefore there must be an immediate connexion between the cause and its effect. From whence it follows, that if the connexion be once clearly perceived, the effect will be known in the cause, and the cause by the effect. And by these ways, proceeding from principles evidently known by consequences certainly concluding, we come to the knowledge of propositions in mathematics, and conclusions in other sciences; which propositions
Apparentia jam fidem non ha esse quod nondum videt, et quibus bent, sed agnitionem,' Greg. 4. Dial. certissime videt, nondum se videre cap. 5. (Hom. in Evang. xxvi. $ 8.] quod credit. S. August. Ep. 222. *Habet namque fides oculos suos, [120. § 8, Vol. 11. p. 349 F.] quibus quodammodo videt, verum
and conclusions are not said to be credible, but scientifical; and the comprehension of them is not faith, but science.
Besides, some things there are, which, though not evident of themselves, nor seen by any necessary connexion to their causes or effects, notwithstanding appear to most as true by some external relations to other truths; but yet so, as the appearing truth still leaves a possibility of falsehood with it, and therefore doth but incline to an assent. In which case, whatsoever is thus apprehended, if it depend upon real arguments, is not yet called credible, but probable; and an assent to such a truth is not properly faith, but opinion.
But when any thing propounded to us is neither apparent to our sense, nor evident to our understanding, in and of itself, neither certainly to be collected from any clear and necessary connexion with the cause from which it proceedeth, or the effects which it naturally produceth, nor is taken up upon any real arguments, or reference to other acknowledged truths, and yet notwithstanding appeareth to us true, not by a manifestation, but attestation of the truth, and so moveth us to assent not of itself, but by virtue of the testimony given to it; this is said' properly to be credible; and an assent unto this, upon such credibility, is in the proper notion faith or belief.
Having thus defined and illustrated the nature of faith in general, so far as it agreeth to all kinds of belief whatsoever, our method will lead us on to descend by way of division, to the several kinds thereof, till at last we come to the proper notion of faith in the Christian's confession, the
design of our present disquisition. And being we have placed 4 the formality of the object of all belief in credibility, it will
clearly follow, that diversity of credibility in the object will proportionably cause a distinction of assent in the understanding, and consequently a several kind of faith, which we have supposed to be nothing else but such an assent.
Now the credibility of objects, by which they appear to be believed, is distinguishable according to the diversities of its foundation, that is, according to the different authority of the testimony on which it depends: for we having no other certain means of assuring ourselves of the truth, and consequently no other motives of our assent in matters of
1 Al Old Twv yaptúpwr padot mlotes. Aristot. Probl, xviii. 3. 2.
mere belief, than the testimony upon which we believe; if
The strength and validity of every testimony must bear
But whosoever is so able as certainly to know the truth of that which he delivereth, and so faithful as to deliver nothing but what and as he knoweth, he, as he is not deceived, so deceiveth no man. So far, therefore, as any person testifying appeareth to be knowing of the thing he testifies, and to be faithful in the relation of what he knows, so far his testimony is acceptable, so far that which he testifieth is
properly credible. And thus the authority of every testifier or relator is grounded upon these two foundations, his ability and integrity.
Now there is in this case, so far as it concerns our present design', a double testimony: the testimony of man to 1 Το γάρ ποιόν τινα φαίνεσθαι τον
2 Fil. Testimoniorum quæ sunt λέγοντα, πιστεύομεν τούτο δ' εστίν, genera ? Pat. Divinum, et humaαν αγαθώς φαίνεται, η εύνους, ή άμφω. num. Divinum, ut oracula, ut auAristot. Rhet. l. i. c. 8. $ 6.
spicia, ut vaticinationes, ut responsa