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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 dust shall be gather'd and united to compose the fame 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 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 faid before, is the assenting to any thing as truth, barely upon the credit of the revealer. Now we can never be faid to assent 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 mystery contain'd in it, or that which is not, or cannot be apprehended by us; it is not the mysterious part, but thercveal'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 the holy Ghost; this is what is reveal'd, and what we apprehend, and so is not a mystery, properly so call'd, and this is what we are requir'd to give our assent to. But the mysterious part, viz. how, or in what manner the Holy Ghost did perform this operation, this is not reveal'd, and this we cannot conceive or apprehend, and this we are required to give our assent to. So again, that there will be a resurrection 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 fame body, this is not reveal'd, and this we cannot conceive or apprehend, and this we are not requir'd, nor can we give our assent to it. Besides, knowledge and faith stands upon the fame foot in this matter, so that we may, as properly, be faid 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 seed is cast 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 observant, 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 faid to know it; and yet they do as truly, andaspro-K 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 faithand that, 'tis a most unjust misrepresentation, when men, who cannot perceive that such or such a particular doctrine is at all revealed in holy- scripture, are charged with denying their assent to such a doctrine, merely because they cannot, by their reason, comprehend hau it.can be.;
TRACT A N
Concerning the Use of Reason in Mat* ters of Revelation.
BY reason, or the reasoning faculty, I understand that ref ecting power of the mind, by which we are enabled to diseern and judge of the fitnels or unfitnese, of the agreernent or difagreement, of the good or evil, and of the truth or falshood of things. This being premised, I fay, that reason and faith are al ways to be exercised in their proper places, and never to intersere one with another, or to be set 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 religion* *viz. that there is a God. When we would fatisfy our minds of the truth of this proposition, we consult our reflecting reasoning faculty, as the only means to obtain that fatisfaction by; because to pretend to seek fatisfaction, 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 anexercising of reason in
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 satisfying our understandings of the truth of them such as that the bodily part of our Saviour was pot produced into being by the agency of a man, in the ordinary course of generation; but by the power of the Holy Ghofl, in an extraordinary way. Now if we -would fatisfy our minds of this truth, we must have recourse to revelation., as the only means to obtain fatisfaction; it being utterly impossible for our reflecting powers to fatisfy our minds of the truth of such matters of fact as this is. And this is not setting up faith above, or in oppost-.. tjon 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.
5yt tho there are some truths, the certainty of which depends wholly upon revelation, and reason js 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 imposer; and it would be our duty to receive every thing for divine truth, that the repprter has the impudence to affirm is the word of God. Secondly, Our reasoning powers are to be exercis'd in discerning and judging what js the mind of Cod, contained in that revelation which we own to be hjs word » for otherways we shall be obliged to cqntrary practices, and to bejeive contradictions, and the like. Thus, Pro* verbs xxvj. 4. Sekmcn forbids, faying, Answer pof fi fool according to his folly, lest thou be like unto T 4 him;
him and then in the next verse he commands faying, Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be *wife- in his own conceit. Here we see, according to the strict letter of the text, we are forbidden and commanded the fame practice; and if we may hot exercise our reason, to discern and judge of Solomon's meaning in this place, we are a necessity of trangressing. 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) faying, take, eat; this is my body which is given for you; when at the fame 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 discerning 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 fame 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 sounds which to us are of no signification. And if we mould admit the Pope, or any other man, or body of men, to be the infalliable interpreters of scripture, which we deny, yet still the case js the fame; because we must exercise our reason to discern and judge what is the sense and meaning of their interpretation. Dr, if we should
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