« PreviousContinue »
EFORE I come to treat of this Noble Subject, The Aftronomical Syftem of the Univerfe, with its wonderful Confequences as it is now difcovered to us by the good Providence of God, and the laborious Searches of this and the last Age; and chiefly, by the furprizing Sagacity and Penetration of the Illuftrious Sir Ifaac Newton; I think it proper to premife two Enquiries, as of great Confequence in way of Preparation tothe receiving real Advantage by this Treatife, and without Satisfaction wherein, all fuch Difcourfes will be of little Effect with many of its Perufers: I mean the Enquiry about that Temper of Mind, which is necessary for the Discovery of Divine A
Truth, and the Enquiry into that Degree of Evidence, that ought to be expected in Divine Matters. For, if all our Knowledge be derived from God, and if it bas pleafed God to require a certain Degree of Probity, Serioufnefs, Impartiality, and Humility of Mind, together with hearty Prayers to him for his Direction, Bleffing, and Affiftance; and a proper Submission to him, before he will communicate bis Truths to Men; I mean, at leaft, communicate the fame fo as fball make a due Impreffion upon their Minds, and turn to their real Profit and Edification, to their true Improvement in Virtue and Happiness: And if Men at any time come to the Examination either of the Works or Word of God, without that Temper of Mind, and without thofe Addreffes for his Aid, and Submiffion to his Will, which He has determined fhall be the Conditions of his Communications to them; efpecially if they come with the contrary Difpofitions, with a Wicked, Partial, Proud, and Ludicrous Temper, and with an utter Difregard to God, his Providence, Worship, and Revelation, all their Refearches will come to nothing. If, I fay, this be the Cafe,as to the Divine Knowledge,as I believe it is, it cannot but be highly neceffary for us all to confider of this Matter beforehand, and to endeavour after the proper
Qualifications, before we fet our felves about the main Enquiries themfelves. If it has alfo pleafed God to expect from us fome more Deference and Regard for him, than for our poor fallible Fellow-Creatures here below and to claim our Belief and Obedience, upon plain external Evidence, That certain Do&trines or Duties are derived from him, without our being always let into the Secrets of his Government, or acquainted with the Reasons of his Conduct, and alfo to expect that this plain external Evidence be treated, as it is in all the other Cafes of Human Determinations and Fudgments; I mean, that it be submitted to, and acquiefced in, when it appears to be fuch, as in all other Cafes would be allowed to be fatisfactory, and plainly fuperior to what it alledged to the contrary: If, I fay, this alfo be the Cafe as to Divine Knowledge, as I believe it is; It will be proper for us all to confider of this Matter before-band alfo, that fo we may not be afterward difappointed, when in our future Progrefs we do not always find that irrefiftible and over-bearing Degree of Evidence for certain Divine Truths, which in fuch Cafes is not to be bad; which in truth is almoft peculiar tothe Mathematicks; and the Expectation of which is fo common, tho' unjust, a Pretence for Infidelity among us.
As to the former of thefe Enquiries, or that Temper of Mind which is necessary for the Discovery of Divine Truth, it can certainly be no other than what the Light of Nature, and the Confciences of Men influenc'd thereby, dictate to us; thofe, I mean, already intimated; fuch as Serioufness, Integrity, Impartiality, and Prayer to God; with the faithful Belief, and ready Practice of fuch Truths and Duites, as we do all along difcover to be the Word and Will of God; together with fuch a Modefty, or Refignation of Mind, as will reft fatisfy'd in certain fublime Points, clearly above our Determination, with full Evidence that they are revealed by God, without always infifting, upon knowing the Reasons of the Divine Conduct therein immediately, before we will believe that Evidence. Thefe are fuch things as all boneft and fober, Men, who have naturally a Senfe of Virtue and of God in their Minds, muft oren their Obligation to. We all know, by the common. Light of Nature, till we eclipfe or corrupt it by our own Wickedness, That we are to deal with the utmoft Fairness, Honefty, and Integrity in all, especially in Religious Matters; that we are to hearken to every Argument, and to confider every Teftimony without Prejudice, or Byafs, and ever to pronounce agreeably to our Convictions; that we are but Weak, Frail, Dependent