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Faith, aos are the object of faith herious parts of
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 assent to ; and consequently a myftery, 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 affenting to any thing as truth, barely upon the credit of the revealer. Now we can never be said to affent to that which we have no idea of. To assent to we understand not what is absurd. Therefore when any thing is declar'd to us which hath a inystery contain'd in it, or that which is not, or cannot be apprehended by us; it is not the mysterious part, but the reveal'd 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 che holy Ghost; this is what is reveal'd, and what we apprehend, and fo is not a mystery, properly so call'd, 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 affent to. So again, that there will be a refurrection of the dead, this is reveal'd, and this we apprehend
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 reveal'd, and this we cannot conceive or apprehend, and this weare 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 myfteries as to beleive them. Thus, that one grain of feed is encreas’d into many, this is what we know, that is, we know that the feed is cast into the earth, and that takes root down. ward, 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 observati-. on 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 pros perly, 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 assent to such a doctrine, merely because they cannot, by their reason, comprehend how it can be
ENQUIRY Concerning the Use of Reason in Mat
ters of Revelation.
Y reason, or the reasoning faculty, I un-
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 always 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; so 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 reasons province, and faith has nothing to do with them; such as the first proposition in religioni viz. that there is a God. 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 reek satisfaction 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
word tend to seek latishat satisfaction
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 Saviour was not produced into being by the agency of a man, in tobe ordinary course of generation, but by the power of the Holy Gholt, 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 such 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 some truths, the certainty of which depends wholly upon revelation, and reą. son 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 dy. ty 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 in 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 beJeive contradictions, and the like. Thus, Proverbs xxvi. 4. Solomon forbids, saying, Answer pot e fool according to his folly, left thou be like unto
bim; and then in the next verse he commands fay. ing, Answer a fool according to bis foliy, lejt be be wife in his own conceit. Here we seè, according to the strict letter of the text, we are forbidden and commanded the same practice ; and if we may not exercise 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 bleljed it, and brake it, and gave it to them (the disciples) Saying, take, eat; this is my body which is giver 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 reason 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 faw 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 interpreters of scripture, 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