Imatges de pàgina
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and the like. For how the bodily part of our Saviour was generated in the womb of the Virgin, by the power of the Holy Ghost, without the concurrence of a man, and how our scattered duft shall be gather'd and united to compose the same body, are mysteries which we are not able to see thorough; and yet the conception of our Saviour, and the resurrection of the body, are articles of our common creed, and such as we all profess to give our affent to ; and consequently a mystery, properly so called, is the object of faith, I answer, that there are many things related, which contain in them what is above the reach of human understanding, and which we do not actually apprehend, and so are mysteries in a proper sense, I readily grant; but that the mysterious parts of those truths are the object of faith, to this I deny. Faith, as I said before, is the assenting to any thing as truth, barely upon the credit of the revealer. Now we can never be said to assent to that which we have no idea of. To aflent to we understand not what is absurd. Therefore when any thing is declar'd to us which hath a mystery contain'd in it, or that which is not, or cannot be apprehended by us; it is not the mysterious part, but the reveald part which we are required to give our assent to. Thus, that the bodily part of our Saviour was conceived in the womb of the Virgin, by the power of the holy Ghost; this is what is reveald, and what we apprehend, and fo is not a mystery, properly so calld, and this is what we are requir’d to give our affent to.

But the myfterious part, viz. how, or in what manner the Holy Ghost did perform this operation, this is not reveald, and this we cannot conceive or apprehend, and this we are required to give our afsent to. So again, that there will be a refurrection of the dead, this is reveald, and this we apprehend

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or have an idea of, and this we are requir'd, and can give our assent to; but the mysterious part, viz. how God, by his almighty power, will

gather our scatter'd, dust, and unite it in the same body, this is not reveald, and this we cannot conceive or apprehend, and this we are not requir’d, nor can we give our affent to it. Besides, knowledge and faith stands upon the same foot in this matter, so that we may, as properly, be said to know mysteries as to beleive them. Thus, that one grain of seed is encreas’d into many, this is what we know, that is, we know that the feed is caft into the earth, and that takes root downward, and bears fruit upward, first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear; this we know, that is, our understandings by observation are inform’d of this truth, by the external sense of seeing; and yet how nature, does perform its, office ; in this matter, is a mystery, at least it is so to the greatest part of mankind. For as it is not visible to their sight, and as it is not reported, unto them, so also they do not discover it by reflection, and consequently cannot properly be said to know it; and yet they do as truly, and as properly, know this mystery, as they do beleive the mysterious part of the resurrection. From all which it appears, that mysteries, properly so call'd, are not the object of faith ; and that 'tis a most unjust misrepresentation, when men, who cannot perceive that such or such a particular doctrine is at all revealed in holy-scripa ture, are charged with denying their afsent to such a doctrine, merely because they cannot, by their reason, comprehend bow it can be

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AN

E NOU I RY

Concerning the Use of Reason in Mat

ters of Revelation.

B

Y reason, or the reasoning faculty, I understand that reflecting power of the mind, by which we are enabled to discern and

judge of the fitness or unfitness, of the agreement or disagreement, of the good or evil. and of the truth or falfhood of things. This being premised; I say, that reason and faith are al ways to be exercised in their proper places, and never to interfere one with another, or to be fet up one above, or one against the other ;fo that we are always to render to reason the things that are reason's, and unto faith the things that are faith's. There are some truths which are in reafons province, and faith has nothing to do with them ; such as the first proposition in religion, viz. that there is a Gad. When we would satisfy our minds of the truth of this proposition, we consult our reflecting reasoning faculty, as the only means to obtain that satisfaction by; because to pretend to seek satisfaction, from the written word of God, is to take the thing for granted which we seek for, viz. that there is a God. We must first be perswaded that God is, before we can be perswaded that he has any revelation for us to seek fatisfaction from, in any case whatever. Now this is not a setting up reason above, or in opposition to faith, but only an exercising of reason in

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its proper place: and it appears, from what as been already observed, that faith hath nothing to do in this matter. Again, there are some truths which are in faith's province, and reason have nothing to do with them, that is, reason is not emyloy'd in fatisfying our understandings of the truth of them such as that the bodily part of our Savicur was not produced into being by the agency of a man, in ibe ordinary course of generation, but by the power of the Holy Ghost, in an extraordinary way. Now if we would fa.isfy our minds of this truth, we must have recourse to revelation, as the only means to obtain satisfaction ; it being utterly impossible for our reflecting powers to satisfy our minds of the truth of fuch matters of fact as this is. And this is not setting up faith above, or in opposia tion to reason; but the only an exercising of faith in its own province. And it is plain, that reason is unconcern'd in this matter.

But tho there are fome truths, the certainty of which depends wholly upon revelation, and reason is unconcern'd in perswading our minds of the truth of them, yet still reason is of a two-fold use in all matters of revelation. First, To discern and judge of the Evidence that is given to prove any revelation to be from God; for if our reason is not to be exercised in this case, then we are laid open to every impofer; and it would be our duty to receive every thing for divine truth, that the reporter has the impudence to affirm is the word of God. Secondly, Our reasoning powers are to be exerciş'd în discerning and judging what is the mind of God, contained in that revelation which we own to be his word; for otherways we shall be obliged to contrary practices, and to beleive contradictions, and the like. Thus, Proverbs xxvi. 4. Solomon forbids, saying, Answer pot f fool according to his folly, left thou be like unto

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bim; and then in the next verse he commands faying, Answer a fool according to bis foliy, left be be wije in his own conceit. Here we fee, according to the strict letter of the text, we are forbidden and commanded the same practice ; and if we may not exercife our reason, to discern and judge of Solomon's meaning in this place, we are a necessity of trangreffing. Thus again, in Mark xiv. 22. it is written. Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to them (the disciples) Saying, take, eat; this is my body which is given for you ; when at the same time his body was actually visibly present with them in the performance of this very action. Here we see, if our Lord's Disciples were not to exercise their feason in difcerning and judging what our Lord meant by these words, but where to beleive them in the literal sense; then they were obliged to beleive that it was his body, when at the same time they saw it was not, which would have been a contradiction. From which it appears, that is a necessity for us to make use of our reason, in order to know the mind of God contain'd in his revelation.

Farther, That we ought to exercise our reason in discerning and judging what is the mind of God contain’d in his revelation, appears from this, viz because reason is planted in us for this end, and because we have no other means to discern the mind of God by; so that, without this, the written word of God is but as of so many words or empty founds which to us are of no signification, And if we should admit the Pope, or any other inan, or body of men, to be the infalliable inter, preters of fcripture, which we deny, yet still the case is the same; because we must exercise our reason to discern and judge what is the sense and meaning of their interpretation, Or, if we should

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