Page images

before us: but the things that are in beaven, who hath fearched out. Wif. ix. 16. Our business is to acquiefce thankfully in

fun, though it is as truly derived from it as a child from his father who begat him; that they were truly and really diftinct from each other, and yet fo much one and the fame as to be still inseperable. When we were informed, that this was what warms and cherisheth and invigorates us after an infenfible manner; and that it is from thence we continue to have life, and motion and fubfiftence; that it can diffuse itself in an instant through a vast and immenfe expanfion; that when our eyes were opened it would help to enlare our understanding, and marvelloufly recreate and delight us, by enabling us to diftinguish things much more accurately, and after quite another manner than ever we did before; by discovering to us myriads of new and furprizing objects, with their different arrangements and proportions; and at fuch distances from us and each other, as could not now enter into our hearts to imagine. After all this, we should remain as utterly void of any direct idea of light and its real nature as we did before; and the very best conception we could form of it from all this revelation, would amount to no more than an indirect, and substituted, and complex knowledge, collected from thofe ideas we were already stocked with by our four senses, and the mind's various operations upon them; instead of that fimple idea


in the Divine difcoveries, to comply with the conditions, and wait with patience and affurance for the accomplishment of the promises.

III. BUT what evidence, it may be afked, have we for the existence of those spiritual facts, which are but halfunveiled to us in the mysteries of religion! If there are mysteries in nature, we have the teftimony of our fenfes for their real existence. But what evidence is there for things which lie fo much out of the compafs of our experience and obfervation?

I ANSWER With St. John, if we receive the teftimony of men, the teftimony of God is greater. Allow only, that myfteries are credible, that is, that general propofi

we should have of it, had we a proper sense for its perception.

THIS ferves in fome measure to illuftrate the cafe of us mortals in this condition of imperfection and infirmity we are now in. Brown's Div. Analogy, p. 20.

[ocr errors]

propofitions may be admitted as truths, and applied to all the practical uses for which they are defigned, without being clearly understood-and it is, as you faw before, our common method in life allow but this, and then all the difficulties of the subject are at an end. The evidence for these things depends upon the general truth of Divine revelation. They come recommended to us by Divine teftimony, by the authority of one, who cannot deceive, or be deceived. "This carries with it affurance beyond


doubt, evidence beyond exception. "We may as well doubt of our being, "as we can whether any revelation from "GOD, be true."*


*MR. Hume, in his Effay upon Miracles, has endeavoured to fubvert the foundation of chriftian faith, by an argument to the following purpofe. The teftimony of others is to be depended upon only in certain circumftances, and is in no circumstances equal to the clear evidence of fense: we have the evidence of sense that

[blocks in formation]

In human matters, we may, if we please, believe or disbelieve: we may indulge a sceptical spirit in all its caprice and extravagance.

We may, in the


the courfe of nature is regular and uninterrupted, i. e. that there are no miracles: the ftronger evidence always destroys the weaker: the accounts therefore of miracles and all events out of the ordinary courfe of nature are incredible.

WHOEVER has a mind to fee this artfully perplexed, ingenious Sophifm, refuted in the moft folid and elegant manner, may confult Dr. Adams' tract upon the fubject.

Ir is fufficient for the fatisfaction of most readers, to produce the fentiments of a much finer thinker and reafoner than Mr. Hume, I mean Mr. Locke.

"THOUGH the common experience, fays he, and the ordinary course of things, have justly a mighty influence on the minds of men, to make them give or refuse credit to any thing proposed to their belief; yet there is one cafe wherein the ftrangeness of the fact leffens not the affent to a fair teftimony given of it. For where fuch fuper. natural events are fuitable to ends aimed at by him, who has the power to change the course of nature; there, under fuch circumstances, they may be the fitter to procure belief, by how much the more they are beyond, or contrary to ordinary observation. This is the proper cafe of miracles, which, well attested, do not only find credit

exercise of this sportive humour, make ourselves ridiculous, but do not neceffarily contract guilt. The object may, perhaps, be a matter of indifference: we may not have leisure or inclination to weigh the evidences upon which its credibility

credit themselves, but give it alfo to other truths, which need fuch confirmation.

BESIDES those we have hitherto mentioned, there is one fort of propofitions that challenge the highest degree of our affent upon bare teftimony, whether the thing propofed, agree or difagree with common experience, and the ordinary course of things, or no. The reafon whereof is, because the teftimony is of fuch an one, as cannot deceive, nor be deceived, and that is of GOD himself. This carries with it affurance beyond doubt, evidence beyond exception. This is called by a particular name, revelation, and our affent to it, faith: which as abfolutely determines our minds, and as perfectly excludes all wavering, as our knowledge itself; and we may as well doubt of our own being, as we can, whether any revelation from God be true. So that faith is a fettled and fure principle of affent and affurance, and leaves no manner of room for doubt and hesitation. Only we must be fure, that it be a Divine revelation, and that we understand it right; else we shall expose ourselves to all the extravagancy of enthusiasm, and all the error of wrong principles, if we have faith and affurance in what is not Divine revelation." Locke's Effay, b. 4. c. 16.


« PreviousContinue »