صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

yet, whilft

PAR T or all of them, is lower than is allowed ; III.

any

Proof of them remains, Reinvelation will stand upon much the same Foot

it does at present, as to all the Purposes of Life and Practice, and ought to have the like Influence upon our Behaviour.

From the foregoing Observations too, it will follow, and those who will thoroughly examine into Revelation, will find it worth remarking; that there are several Ways of arguing, which, though just with Regard to other Writings, are not applicable to Scripture: at least not to the prophetick Parts of it. We cannot argue, for Instance, that This cannot be the Sense or Intent of such a Pafe fage of Scripture ; for if it had, it would have been expressed more plainly, or have been represented under a more apt Figure or Hieroglyphick: Yet we may justly argue thus, with respect to common Books. And the Reason of this Difference is very evident; that in Scripture, we are

we are not competent Judges, as we are in common Books, how plainly it were to have been expected, what is the true Sense should have been exprest, or under how apt an Image figured. The only Question is, what Appearance there is, that This is the Sense; and scarce at all, how much more determinately or accurately it might have been exprest or figured.

“ But

CH AP. “ But is it not Self-evident, that internal III.

Improbabilities of all kinds, weaken exter-m “ nal probable Proof?” Doubtless. But to what practical Purpose can this be alledged here, when it has been proved before, that real internal Improbabilities which rise even to moral Certainty, are overcome by the most ordinary Testimony; and when it now has been made appear, that we scarce know what are Improbabilities, as to the Matter we are here confidering: as it will farther appear from what follows.

For though from the. Obfervations above made, it is manifest, that we are not in any Sort competent Judges, what supernatural Instruction were to have been expected ; and though it is Self-evident, that the Objections of an incompetent Judgment must be frivolous: Yet it may be proper to go one Step farther, and observe ; that if Men will be regardless of these things, and pretend to judge of the Scripture by preconceived Expectations; the Analogy of Nature Thews beforehand not only that it is highly credible they may, but also probable that they will, imagine they have strong Objections against it, however really unexceptionable: for so, prior to Experience, they would think they had, . p. 244.

S

against,

PART against, the Circumstances and Degrees and

II. the whole Manner of That Instruction, which mis afforded by the ordinary Course of Nature.

Were the Instruction which God affords to brute Creatures by Instincts and mere Propensions, and to Mankind by these together with Reason, Matter of probable Proof, and not of certain Observation; ic would be rejected as incredible, in many Instances of it, only upon account of the Means by which this Instruction is given, the seeming Disproportions, the Limitations, neceffary Conditions, and Circumstances of it. For Instance ; Would it not have been thought highly improbable, that Men should have been so much more capable of discovering, even to Certainty, the general Laws of Matter, and the Magnitudes, Paths and Revolutions of the heavenly Bodies; than the Occasions and Cures of Distempers

, and many other things, in which Human Life seems so much more nearly concerned, than in Astronomy? How capricious and irregular a Way of Information, would it be said, is That of Invention, by Means of which, Nature instructs us in Matters of Science, and in many things, upon which the Affairs of the World greatly depend: That a Man should, by this Faculty, be made acquainted with a Thing in an Instant, when perhaps he is thinking of fomewhat elfe, which he has in vain been searching after, it may be, for Years. So likewise Chap. che Imperfections attending the only Method, III. by which Nature enables and directs us to m communicate our Thoughts to each other, are innumerable. Language is, in its very Nature, inadequate, ambiguous liable to infinite Abuse, even from Negligence; and so liable to it from Design, that every Man can deceive and betray by it. And, to mention but one Instance more; that Brutes, without Reason, should act, in many Respects, with a Sagacity and Foresight vastly greater than what Men have in those Respects, would be thought impossible. Yet it is certain they do act with such superior Foresight: whether it be their own indeed, is another Question. From these things it is highly credible beforehand, that upon Supposition God should afford Men some additional Instruction by Revelation, it would be with Circumstances, in Manners, Degrees and Respects, which we should be apt to fancy we had great Objections against the Credibility of. Nor are the Objections against the Scripture, nor against Christianity in general, at all more or greater, than the Analogy of Nature would beforehand not perhaps give Ground to expect; for this Analogy may not be sufficient, in some cases, to ground an Expectation upon ; but no more nor greater, than Analogy would thew it, beforehand, to be suppokeable and

S 2

credible,

PART credible, that there might seem to lie against

II. Revelation.

By appying these general Observations to a particular Objection, it will be more distinatly seen, how they are applicable to others of the like Kind; and indeed to almost all Objections against Christianity, as distinguished from Objections against its Evidence. It appears. from Scripture, that, as it was not unusual in the Apostolick Age, for Persons, upon their Conversion to Christianity, to be endued with miraculous Gifts; so, some of those Persons exercised these Gifts in a strangely irregular and disorderly Manner: And this is made an Objection against their being really miraculous. Now the foregoing Observations quite remove this Objection, how confiderable soever it may appear at first sight. For, consider a Person endued with any of these Gifts; for Instance, That of Tongues: It is to be supposed, that he had the same Power over this miraculous Gift, as he would have had over it, had it been the Effect of Habit, of Study and Ufe, as it ordinarily is; or the same Power over it, as he had over any other natural Endowment. Consequently, he would use it in the fame Manner he did any other ; either regularly and upon proper Occasions only, or irregularly and upon improper ones: according to his Sense of Decency, and his

Charac

« السابقةمتابعة »