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As for myself, whom I am now only concerned to vindicate, I hall fet down the two passages, to which I fuppofe he refers,

In my sermon, (vol. i. p. 32.], I endeavour, among other things, to thew the unreasonableness of Atheism upon this account : “Because it requires more evidence “ for things than they are capable of.” To make this good, I discourse thus: “ Aristotle hath long since ob

served, how unreasonable it is to expect the same kind “ of proof for every thing, which we have for some " things. Mathematical things, being of an abstracted nature, are only capable of clear demonstration. “' But conclusions in natural philosophy are to be pro“ ved by a sufficient induction of experiments; things " of a moral nature, by moral arguments; and matters “ of fact, by credible testimony. And though none of " these be strict demonstration, yet have we an un“ doubted assurance of them, when they are proved by “ the best arguments that the nature and quality of the

thing will bear. None can demonstrate to me, that “ there is such an island in America as Jamaica ; yet,

upon the testimony of credible persons, and authors us who have written of it, I am as free from all doubt

concerning it, as from doubting of the clearest ma" thematical demonstration. So that this is to be en“ tertained as a firm principle, by all those who pre“ tend to be certain of any thing at all, That when

any thing is proved by as good arguments as that “ thing is capable of, and we have as great assurance “ that it is, as we could possibly have fuppofing it were,

we ought not in reason to make any doubt of the ex“ istence of that thing. Now to apply this to the pre“ fent case : The being of God is not mathematically, “ demonítrable; nor can it be expected it should; because only mathematical matters admit of this kind “ of evidence. Nor can it be proved immediately by " fenfe : because God being supposed to be a pure spi“ rit, cannot be the object of any corporeal sense. But

assurance that there is a God, as the nature of the thing to be proved is capable of, “ and as we could in reason expect to have, supposing 56 that he were.”



yet we have



Upon this passage it must be, if any thing in the fermon, that Mr S. chargeth this position (in equivalent' terms of the posible falsehood of faith, and that as to the chiefest and most fundamental point, the tenet of a Deity. And now I appeal to the reader's eyes and judgement, whether the sum of what I have said be not this, That though the existence of God be not capable of that Itria kind of demonstration which mathematical matters' are; yet that we have an undoubted assurance of it. One would think, that no man could be fo ridiculous, as from hence to infer, that I believe it possible, not. withstanding this assurance, that there thould be no' God. For however in many other cases an undoubted assurance that a thing is, may not exclude all suspicion of a possibility of its being otherwise ; yet in this tenet of a Deily it most certainly does ; because, whoever is assured that there is a God, is assured that there is a be. ing whose existence is, and always was neceffary; and confequently is affured that it is impoffible he should not be, and involves in it a contradiction. So that my discourse is so far from being equivalent to the position he mentions, that it is a perfect contradiction to it. And lie might with as much truth have affirmed; that I had expressly, and in so many words, faid, that there is no God.

The other passage is in p. 118. [i. e. vol. 3: p. 303.' 309.] of my book concerning the rule of faith. I was' discourfing, that no man can " lhew, by any necessary

argument, that it is naturally impossible that all the “ relations concerning America should be false. But " yet (Jay !) I suppose that, notwithstanding this, no

man in his wits is now possessed with so incredible a

folly, as to doubt whether there be such a place. " The case is the very fame as to the certainty of an " ancient book, and of the sense of plain expressions. " We have no demonstration for these things, and we

expect none ; because we know the things are not ca“ pable of it. We are not infallibly certain, that any " book is so ancient as it pretends to be: or that it was “ written by him whose name it bears; or that this is " the sense of such and such passages in it. It is poffible all this may be otherwise : but we are very well b 2


o affured that it is not ; nor hath any prudent man any

just cause to make the least doubt of it. For a bare

possibility that a thing may be, or not be, is no just “cause of doubting whether a thing be or not. It is

poflible all the people in France may die this night; " but I hope the poilibility of this doi h not incline any

man in the least to think that it will be so. It is poss 4. lible that the sun may not rise to-morrow morning; " yet, for all this, I fuppose that no man hath the least 65. doubt but that it will."

To avoid the.cavils of this impertinent man, I have transcribed the whole page to which he refers. And now, where is this avowed position of the polible falfebood of faiih? All that I say is this, That we are not infallible either in judging of the antiquity of a book, er of the sense of it: by which I mean, (as any man of fonfe and ingenuity would easily perceive I do), that we cannot deinonstrate these things fo. as to shew that the contrary necessarily involves a contradiction; but yet that we may have a firm affuranee concerning these matters, so as 11at to make the least doubt of them.

And is this to avow the possible falsehood of faith? 'and yet this position Mr S. charges upon these words; howjustly, I shall now.examine.

Either by faith Mr S. means the doctrine revealed by God; and then the meaning of the position must be, Fhat what God says is possible to be false; which is fo: absurd a position, as can hardly enter into any man's inind; and yet Mr S. hath the modesty all along in his bock to insinuate, that in the forecited-pallage I fay as. much as this comes to.

Or else Mr.S. means by faith; the assent which we give to doctrines as revealed by God; and then his sense of infallibility must be, either, that whoever assents to any thing as revealed by God, cannot be deceived, upe. on supposition that it is fo revealed; or elfe absolutely,. that whoever assents to any thing as revealed by God, cannot be deceived. Now, although I do not, in the paffage forecited, speak one syllable concerning doétrines, revealed by God, yet {. affirm, (and so will any man elle), that an aflent to any doctrine as revealed by God,, if it be revealed by him, is impoflible to be false. But

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this is only an infallibility upon supposition ; : which a. mounts to no more than this, That if a thing be true, it is impoflible to be false. And yet the 'principal de sign of Mr S.'s book is to prove this, wbich I believe no man in the world was ever so senseless as to deny. But if he mean absolutely, that whoever assents to any doctrine as revealed by God, cannot be deceived; that is, that no man can be mistaken about matters of faith, (as he must mean, if he pretend to have any adverfary, and do not fight only with his own shadow); this, I confess, is a very comfortable assertion, but I am much! afraid it is not true.

Or else, Jastly, by faith he understands the means i and motives of faith ; and then the plain fate of the controversy between us is this, Whether it be necessary to a Christian belief, to be infallibly secured of the means whereby the Chriftian doctrine is conveyed to us, and of the firmness of the motives upon which our be• lief of it is grounded? This indeed is something to the purpose : for though, in the passage before cited, I say not one word concerning the motives of our belief of the Christian doctrine; yet my discourse there was intended to be applied to the means 'whereby the knowledge of this doétrine is conveyed to us. However, I am contented to join issue with Mr.S. upon both these e points.

1. That it is not necessary to the true nature of faith, » that the motives upon which any man believes thie Chriftian doctrine should be absolutely conclusive, and im-spoflible to be false. That it is neceffary, Mr S. feveral times affirms in his book; but how unreasonably, appears from certain and daily experience. Very many Christians, such as - St Austin speaks of; so 'as taved, "not by the quickness of their understandings, but the "simplicity of their belief,” do believe the Christian : doctrine upon incompetent grounds; and their belief is true, though the argument upon which they ground it be- not (as Mr S. fays) :“ absolutely conclufive of the :

thing :” and he that thus believes the Christian doctrine, if he adhere to it, and live accordingly, shall 3 undoubtedly be saved ; and yet I hope Mr S. will not say, chat any man thall be saved without true faith. I.




might add, that in this affertion Mr S. is plainly constradicted by those of his own church.

For they generally grant, that general councils, tho': they be infallible in their definitions and conclusions, yet are not always so in their arguments and reasonings about them. And the Guide of Controversies expressly. says, p. 35. that," it is not necessary that a divine faith "s. fhould always have an external rationally, infallible: "- ground or motive thereto (whether-church-authoria .ty or any other) on his part that fo believes." Here is a man of their own church avowing this position, That faith is possible to be false. I defire Mr S, who is. the very rule of controversy, to do justice upon this., false Cuide,

I must acknowledge, that Mr S. attempts to prove this affertion, and that by a very pleasant and surprising argument; which is this.

" The profound mysteries“ of faith (he tells us, Faith vind. p. 90.) must needs: " seem to some (viz, those who have no light but their

pure natural reason, as he, faid before, p. 89.) ime “s-possible to be true ; which therefore nothing but a “.motive of its own nature seemingly impossible to be.. s-false, can conquer, so as to make them conceit them 6. really true.” What Mr S. here means by a motive.. of its own. nature seeming.impoffible to be falje, I cannot. divine ; unless he ineans a real seeming impoffibility. But be that as it will,' does Mr S. in: good earnest believe, that a motive of its own nature seeming impossible to va false, is fufficient to convince any man, that has and uses the light of natural : reason, of the truth of a thing whicb mul needs Seenu to bin imposible to be true? In iny opinion, there iwo. seeming impoflibilities are so eaqually matched, that it must needs be a drawn battle. Letween them. Suppose the thing to be-believed be. transubstantiation:.. this indeed is a very profound my.. Atery, and is (to speak in Mr Si's phrase.) of its own nam ture so seemingly in possible, that I know no argument in the world strong enough to cope with it. And. I.challenge Mr. S. to instance in any motive of faith which is, both to our undertandings and our ses, more-plainly impossible to be false,. than their doctrine of transubftantiation is evidently imposible. to. be true. And if ho


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