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to satisfy themselves and others of the-"^T"— Truth of it) did sometimes express them- x ~* j ielves very doubtfully concerning it; „J^—) and were never able to arrive at such a full Assurance, such clear and lively Apprehensions of it, as innumerable Multitudes of Persons high and low, learned and unlearned, have receiv'd from the Christian Religion. So that the Apostle might with Reason enough affirm, That Jesus Christ brought Life and Immortality ».Tim. to Light thro* the Gospel.
Thus much may suffice to shew what
a Mystery is. 1 shall in the next
Place let my self to remove some Mistakes concerning Mysteries; which I shall do by shewing what a Mystery is not. .
And First, a Mystery is not an Absurdity. Reason was implanted in Men by the God of Nature to enable them to find out Truth, and to distinguish between It and Falshood. And tho' we allow that Reason compar'd to Revelation is but as a Candle in comparison of the Sun; yet it is the Candle of the £,ord; and so far as it directs us? it directs rects us Right. St. Paul pronounces the
^ERTMj Idolatry of the Heathen World inexcu
__!_ 'fable, because that which may be known
Rom. of God is manifest ..in them; for Godhath shewed it unto them. And . how God hath shewed it unto them he tells us in the Words immediately following; For the invisible Things of him from the Creation of the World are clearly seen, being underflood by the Things that are made, even his eternal Power and Godhead. So that (according to the..Apostle) not only those Things which are made known unto Men by Revelation, but likewise those which are discovered by Natural Light, are shewn unto them by God. Wherefore it is as impossible that God should reveal any Thing inconsistent with Reason, as it is that he should make two Revelations inconsistent with one another. For if God should reveal any Thing contrary to Reason, he would then reveal some Thing contrary to what He himself hath shewed unto us, /'. e. He would contradict himself, The Voice of Reason is the Voice of God j and therefore sore to oppose the Dictates Of Revelatioft —~ to the Dictates of Reason, is to set the *^£*
Dictates of God himself at Variance with_Iv 1
One another. And it is a very idle Question which some may be ready to put to us, What if God mould reveal something repugnant to Human Reason? Are we not bound to believe him? They may as well fay, What if God mould contradict himself? What if God, who cannot lye, mould shew unto us a Lye? Afc we not bound to believe him? The Supposition that God mould do any such Thing, is highly impious, as well as absurd.
D o I then make the short-sighted and fallible Reason of Men the adequate Measure of Truth? I answer, All Truth cannot be discovered by Reason; but all Truth is agreeable to it. Many Things may be true which lie hid from it; but nothing can be true which contradicts it. J grant that the Truths which we knoware but few in comparison of those which we are ignorant of. But then we are line, that whatever clashes with any one
4——- of those Truths which we know, is false j &*TM: because all Truth is perfectly uniform ^J* 'and consistent. I grant too, that Men are fallible, and are oftentimes actually deceiv'd in their Reasonings. But then that some Principles and Conclusions of Reason are certain (as certain as any thing can be) must be acknowledged by all those who are not resolved to reduce all Things to Uncertainty, and to overthrow all Religion both Natural and Revealed. From Principles of Reason we conclude that there is a God; and that he is True in all his Declarations. And whoever denies the Certainty of these Conclusions, does in effect deny the Certainty even of Reveal'd Religion, the Belief of which is founded upon them. Before a Man can give full Credit to a Divine Revelation, he must be assur'd that God is, and that he is True and cannot lye, nor set his Seal to a Lye. For he who is not perswaded that there is a God, cannot possibly believe that. God hath made any Revelation; and he who does not believe that God is True,
cannot think himself oblig'd to believe
any Revelation, tho' confessedly made EI^* by God, and consirm'd by Miracles. But * * when a Man is perswaded of both these Truths, his Reason will necessarily determine him to yield his Assent to every Thing revealed by God. So that Men assent to Divine Revelation, because it is agreeable to Reason so to do; and therefore it is plain, that no Divine Revelation can contain any Thing disagreeable to Reason, since it cannot be agreeable to Reason to assent to any Thing disagreeable to Reason.
If the Christian Religion did indeed teach those absurd Doctrines, which some affirm that it doth teach; it would follow by unavoidable Consequence, that Christianity was an Imposture, and not a Divine Revelation. For from the Absurdity of a Doctrine we draw a conclusive Argument against the Divinity of any Religion which asserts that Doctrine. When Christians dispute against Paganism, they make it their Business to shew tl*er Absurdity and Unreasonableness of