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nor reject any revealed Truths, for want of Natural Ideas to conceive them by>: ,
To shorten this Discourse as much as I can; I shall at present only shew you what reason We have to believe those Doctrines which are thought the most mysterious and inconceivable, notwithstanding any Objections from Natural Reason and Philosophy against them. And the account of this must be resolved into the Nature, Use, and Authority of Revelation; that Revelation, as to such matters as are knowaible only by Revelation, must serve instead of Sense, Natural Ideas, and Natural Reason; that is, That we must believe things which we do not fee, things which we have no Natural Notion or Conception of, things which are not evident to Natural Reason; for without this, there is little use of Faith, no Authority of pure Revelation.
It is true, the general Corruption of Mankind made it very necessary for God to revive the Laws of Nature, and to reinforce the observation of them by his own Authority and Command; but the proper wOrk of Revelation is to discover such things to us as Nature cannot teach, of which we have no Natural Notion, nor any Natural Evidence; At least * thus it may be, if God knows more than Natural Reason teaches, or can comprehend; and thinks it fit to reveal such Supernatural Truths to us, when he fees it useful for Mankind.
Now if God ever does reveal such things to us, if we believe upon God's Authority ( which is the strict Notionof a Divine Faith ), we must believe without any Natural Evidence, merely because God has revealed it; and then we must believe such things as are not evident to Sense and Reason; and then it Can be no Objection against Revelation, nor against the belief of any such supernatural Truths, that we have no Natural Notion, nor Na
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tural evidence of them , that they are what we cannot conceive and comprehend.
.. To believe no farther than natural Reason can conceive and comprehend, is to reject the Divine Authority of Revelation, and to destroy the distinction between Reason and Faith. He who will believe no farther than natural Reason approves; believes his Reason, not the R evelation; and is in truth a Natural Philosopher; not a Believer: He believes the Scriptures, as he would'believe P/ato and TuRj; . not as inspired Writings, but as agreeable to Reason and the result of wise and deep Thoughts; and this puts an end to all the disputes about Faith and H evelation at once: For what use is there of Faith ? What matter whether the Scriptures be divinely Inspired or nor, when we are no farther concerned with them than with other Human Writings, to believe what they teach agreeable to our own Reason ? Let these Men then either reject Faith and Scripture, or confess, That Revelation, as to all Supernatural Truths, must serve us instead of Sense and Reason. I would gladly know of them, Whether they would not believe such supernatural Truths, as are not evident to Reason, were they sure that God had Revealed them? I guess they will not be so hardy as to fay, That they would not believe God himself, should he Reveal such things as their Reason cannot comprehend; and if they would believe God in such matters, Why will they not believe a Revelation, which they themselves acknowledge to be Divine, in such mat* ters? For is there any difference between believing God, and believing a Divine Revelation? If God does know, andean reveal such Mysteries, and is to be believed when he does reveal them, and such Doctrines are contained in an undoubted Revelation; then the unconceivablenefs of them can be no argument against the Truth of the Revelation, or that sense of the words, which contains such Mysteries. Let
Let us then consider the natural consequence os this, which is of great moment in this dispute, viz. That we must allow os no Objections against Revealed Mysteries, which we will not allow to be good Objections against Sense and Reason; which is a necessary and unavoidable consequence if Revelation, with respect to supernatural Truths, stand in the place of Sense and Reason.
Now no man questions the truth of what he sees and feels, or what he can prove to be true by plain and undeniable Reason, merely because there are unconceivable difficulties in it; as there are in every thing, even the most certain and familiar things in Nature: And if Revealed Truths are not more unconceivable than many natural objects of Sense and Reason, Why should thek being unconceivable be a greater Objection against believing a Revelation, than it is against believing our Sense and Reason in matters equally unconceivable? When God has Revealed to us, That he has an Eternal and Only Begotten Son, though we cannot comprehend the Mystery of the Eternal Generation, Why should we not as firmly believe it, as we do, that Man Begets a Son in his own likeness, the Philosophy of which we as little understand? Nor.can we any more conceive the Union of the Soul and Body, than we do the Incarnation of the Son of God, or the Union of the Divine and Human Nature in one Person? And if we own the Authority of Revelation , Why. should we not as well believe what Revelation teaches, how unconceivable soever it be, as we do what Sense and Reason teaches, though it be alike unconceivable ? ,
AU men are sensible, that it is very absurd and foolish to deny the Being of any thing which they have certain evidence of, because they cannot comprehend the Nature and Reasons of it: The Man who rose up and walked before the Philosopher, who was disputing subtilly against the possibility of Motion, put a scorn upon all his Arguments, by shewing him that he could Move: And therefore we see, that all men believe their Senses and Reason against all the difficulties in Nature, and will never be persuaded, by the subtillest Disputant, That that is nor, which they certainly see and know to be. Now for the fame reason, if men will allow the Authority of Revelation, they must believe what is Revealed, how unconceivable and incomprehensible soever its nature be; for when we know that a thing is, (and this may be known by Revelation as well as by Sense, as those men must confess, who acknowledge a Divine Revelation) no difficulties in conceiving it, must persuade us to deny that it is.
This is very plain in it self, though few men consider it, That to disbelieve whatisRevealed,for the fake of any disficulties in understanding or conceiving it, is to reject the certainty of Revelation; For what other account can be given of that difference men make between the Evidence of Sense and Reason, and of Revelation, but that they allow Sense and Reason to be good and certain proofs of the being of such things as are evident to Sense and Reason, how mysterious soever their Natures arc; but that mere Revelation is no certain proof of the being of any thing which is not evident also to Sense and Reason, how plainly soever it be Revealed; that is, that Revelation alone can prove nothing*, for if Revelation itself could prove the. certainty of what is Revealed, the difficulties in Nature and Philosophy could no more disprove a Revelation, than confute our Senses. Now let any man judge, whether this be not unequal usage,to expect more from Revelation, than they do from Sense and Reason, and not to believe Revelation upon the seme terms that they believe their Senses.
Should men resolve to believe nothing which they sce,till they could give a Philosophical account of the Reasons,
and Causes, and Natures, of all they fee, as they refuse to believe a Revelation any farther than they can conceive and comprehend the thing Revealed, they must of necef fity beas greatScepticks, as they are Infidels. For as for contradictions, it is an easy matter to make or find seeming contradictions in what we do not understand; for when we know not the Philosophical Natures of things, nor how they act, and yet will be reasoning and guessing at them, all our false guesses may be full of contradictions and impossibilities, because we know not the true Mystery of Nature. It is this vain humour of Criticizing upon Nature which makes so"many Atheists. They go upon the fame Principle with Infidels and Hereticks, To believe nothing which natural Reason cannot conceive and comprehend; now they cannot comprehend the Notion and Idea of a God, which they say, is made up of Contradictions and impossibilities, and therefore they reject the Being of a God: They cannot conceive a Creating Power, which can give Being to that which had no Being before, which they think a plain Contradiction to make Something of Nothing; and therefore they reject the Creation of the World, and either assert the Eternity of the World, or at least the Eternity of Matter: They can conceive no Substance but Matter and Body, and therefore reject the Notion of a Spirit, as Nonsense and Contradiction: They will allow nothing to be wisely made, which they understand not the reason and uses of, and therefore they fancy a great many botches and blunders in Nature, which cannot be the designs and contrivance of Wisdom, but the effects of Chance; and then the consequence is plain, That the World was made by Chance, not by a Wife A uthor.
Now, I confess, if this way of Reasoning be allowed, it will be impossible to defend either Sense, or Reason, or