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not save himself; "If he be the king of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him,” Mat. 'xxvii. 42. The Gentiles despised the gospel as an absurd, ill-contrived fable, 1 Cor. i. 23; for what in appearance is more unbecoming God and injurious to his perfections, than to take the frail garment of flesh, to be torn and trampled on? Their natural knowledge of the Deity inclined them to think the incarnation impossible. There is no resemblance of it in the whole compass of nature; for natural union supposes the parts incomplete, and capable of perfection by their joining together ; but that a being infinitely perfect should assume by personal union a nature inferior to itself, the heathens looked on it as a fable, forged according to the model of the fictions concerning Danae and Antiope; Orig. cont. Cels. And the doctrine of our Saviour's death on the cross they rejected, as an impiety contumelious to God; they judged it inconsistent with the majesty and happiness of the Deity, to ascribe to him that which is the punishment of the most guilty and miserable. In the account of carnal reason, they thought more worthily of God by denying that of him, which is due only to the worst of men. Celsus, who, with as much subtility as malice, urges all that with any appearance could be objected against our Saviour, principally insists on his poverty and sufferings, the meanness and misery of his condition in the world. “ It was fit,” says he, “ that the Son of God should appear as the sun, which renders itself conspicuous by its own light; but the gospel having declared the Word to be the Son of God, relates, that he was a man of sorrows, one that had no power to defend himself, and was deserted by his Father and followers, scourged with rods, and shamefully executed.” He could not reconcile so many things that seemed utterly incompatible, as sovereignty and servitude, innocence and punishment, the lowest of human miseries, death, with the highest of divine honours, adoration. Briefly; nothing was more contrary to flesh and blood, than to believe that person to be the Redeemer of the world, who did not rescue himself from his enemies; and to expect immortality from him that was overcome by death.

Now the causes of this infidelity are, .

1. The darkness of the mind, which is so corrupted by original pravity, that it cannot behold heavenly mysteries in their proper light, so as to acquiesce in the truth of them. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of

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God; for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned,” 1 Cor. ii. 14. The apostle takes notice of the disaffection of the heart, and the incapacity of the mind, not prepared and illustrated by grace, to embrace and discern spiritual things in their verity and beauty. There is a great disproportion between the natural understanding, though elevated and enlarged by secular learning, and supernatural truth; for though the rational soul is a spirit, as it is distinguished from corporeal beings, yet till it is purged from error and vicious affections, it can ne ver discover the divinity of things spiritual, so as to embrace them with certainty and delight. As there must be a spirit of revelation to unveil the object, so of wisdom to enlighten the eye, that it may be prepared for the reception of it. As heaven is seen only by its own light, so Christ is by his own Spirit. Divine objects, and faith that discerns them, are of the same original and of the same quality. The natural understanding, as the effects declare, is like the superal lamps, which, by the ancients, were put into sepulchres to guard the ashes of their dead friends, which shine so long as they are kept close, a thick moist vapour feeding them and repairing what was consumed: but, in opening the sepulchres and exposing them to the free air, they presently faint and expire. Thus natural reason, whilst conversant in things below and watching with the dead, that is, in the phrase of the ancients, studying the books of men who have left the world, discovers something, although it is rather twilight than clear; but when it is brought from the narrow sphere of things sensible, to contemplate the immensity of things spiritual and supernatural, its light declines and is turned into darkness.

2. The pride of the human understanding, which disdains to stoop to those great and heavenly mysteries. It is observable, that those who most excelled in natural wisdom, were the greatest despisers of evangelical truths. The proud wits of the world chose rather to be masters of their own, than scholars to another. They made reason their supreme rule, and philosophy their highest principle, and would not believe what they could not comprehend. They represented Christians under scornful titles, as captives of a blind belief, and derided their faith as the effect of folly; and rejected revelation, the only means to convey the knowledge of divine mysteries to them. They presumed by the light and strength of their own reason and virtue to acquire felicity,

and slighted the doctrine that came from heaven to discover a clear way thither, and divine grace that was necessary to assist them. Therefore the apostle, by way of upbraiding, inquires, “Where is the wise ? Where is the scribe ? Where is the disputer of this world ? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world ?" As those who are really poor and would appear rich in the pomp of their habits and attendants, are made poor by that expense ; so the philosophers, who were destitute of true wisdom, and would appear wise in making reason the judge of divine revelation and the last resolution of all things, by that false affectation of wisdon, became more foolish: by all their disputes against the apparent absurdities of the Christian religion, they were brought into a more learned darkness.

3. The prejudice which arose from sensual lusts hindered the belief of the gospel. As the carnal understanding rebels against the sublimity of its doctrine, so the carnal appetite against the purity of its precepts. And according to the dispositions of men from whence they act, such light they desire to direct them in acting. The gospel is a inystery of godliness, and those who are under the love of sin, cherish an affected ignorance, lest the light should enflame conscience by representing to them the deadly guilt that cleaves to sin, and thereby make it uneasy. This account of our Saviour gives of the infidelity of the world, that “ men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil,” John iii. 19. And that this was the real cause, whatever was pretended, is clear, in that the gentiles who opposed Christ, adored those impure deities whose infamous lusts were acknowledged by them. And with what colour then could they reject our Redeemer because crucified ? As if vice were not more incompatible with the Deity, than sufferings.

Now, though reason, enslaved by prejudice and corrupted by passion, despised the gospel, yet when it is enlightened by faith, it discovers such a wise economy in it, that, were it not true, it would transcend the most noble created mind to invent it. It is so much above our most excellent thoughts, that no human understanding would ever attempt to feign it, with confidence of persuading the world into a belief of it. How is it possible that it should be contrived by natural reason, since no man can believe it sincerely when it is revealed without a supernatural faith?

JI. To confirm our belief of these great and saving mys


teries, I will show how just it is that the understanding should resign itself to divine revelation which hath made them known.

In order to this, we must consider,

First, There are some doctrines in the gospel, which the understanding could not discover ; but when they are revealed, it hath a clear apprehension of them upon a rational account, and sees the characters of truth visibly stamped on their forehead; as the doctrine of satisfaction to divine justice, that pardon might be dispensed to repenting sinners ; for our natural conception of God includes his infinite purity and justice ; and when the design of the gospel is made known, whereby he hath provided abundantly for the honour of those attributes, so that he doth the greatest good without encouraging the least evil, reason acquiesces and acknowledges, 'This I sought, but could not find. Now although the primary obligatỉon to believe such doctrines ariseth from revelation, yet being ratified by reason, they are embraced with more clearness by the mind.

Secondly, There are some doctrines which, as reason by its light could not discover, so when they are made known, it cannot comprehend ; but they are by a clear necessary connexion joined with the other that reason approves; as the mystery of the Trinity and the incarnation of the Son of God, which are the foundations of the whole work of our redemption. The nature of God is repugnant to plurality, there can be but one essence; and the nature of satisfaction requires a distinction of persons; for he that suffers as guilty, must be disting shed from the person of the judge that exacis satisfaction, and no mere creature is able, by his obedient sufferings, to repair the honour of God; so that a divine person assuming the nature of man, was alone capable to make that satisfaction which the gospel propounds, and reason consents to. Now, according to the distinction of capacities in the Trinity, the Father required an honourable reparation for the breach of the divine law, and the Son bore the punishment in the sufferings of the human nature, that is peculiarly his own. Besides, it is clear that the doctrine of the Trinity, that is, of three glorious relations in the godhead, and of the incarnation, are most firmly connected with all the parts of the Christian religion, left in the writings of the apostles, which, as they were confirmed by miracles, the divine signatures of their certainty, so they contain such au

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thentic marks of their divinity, that right reason cannot reject them.

Thirdly, Whereas there are three principles by which we apprehend things, sense, reason, and faith, these lights have their different objects that must not be confounded. Sense is confined to things material ; reason considers things abstracted from matter; faith regards the mysteries revealed from heaven: and these must not tra sgress their order. Sense is an incompetent judge of things about which reason only is conversant; it can only make a report of those objects, which, by their natural characters, are exposed to it. And reason can discourse only of things within its sphere; supernatural things, which derive from revelation, and are purely the objects of faith, are not within its territories and jurisdiction. Those superlative mysteries exceed all our intellectual abilities.

It is true, the understanding is a rational faculty, and every act of it is really, or in appearance, grounded on reason; but there is a wide difference between proving a doctrine by reason and giving a reason why we believe the truth of it. For instance; we cannot prove the Trinity by natural reason, and the subtilty of the schoolmen who affect to give some reason of all things, is here more prejudicial than advantageous to the truth: for he that prctends to maintain a point by reason and is unsuccessful, doth-weaken the credit which the authority of revelation gives: and it is considerable, that the scripture in delivering supernatural truths, produces God's authority as their only proof, without using any other way of arguing. But although we cannot demonstrate these mysteries by reason, yet we may give a rational account why we believe them. Is it not the highest reason to believe the discovery that God hath made of himself and his decreès ? For he perfectly knows his own nature and will; and it is impossible he should deceive us. This natural principal is the foundation of faith. When God speaks it becomes man to hear with silence and submission. His naked word is as certain as a demonstration.

And is it not most reasonable to believe, that the Deity cannot be fully understood by us? The sun may more easily be included in a spark of fire, than the infinite perfections of God be comprehended by a finite mind. The angels who dwell so near the fountain of light, cover their faces in a holy confusion, not being able to comprehend him: how


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