« הקודםהמשך »
SERM. not only be proved that the inspired Writers
have erred in Points of no Consequence, and upon which nothing depends: (for this would only prove that God left them to themselves in those Cases, and did not interpose where there was no Occasion for him to interpose.) It must be demonstrated that they have erred in the weightier Points, which make Revelation a Matter worthy to be received of all Men; or in the main Substance of some Fact, upon which the Truth of Revelation depends. Unless they can do this, they will only, like the Serpent, bite the Heel, or give a Wound (far from being incurable) to Religion in it's lower or less noble Parts; without bruising it's Head, or hurting it in the capital, vital and constituent Parts.
But we will suppose their Charges of an higher Nature; Charges of Repugnances to Reason, Absurdities and Impossibilities in Matters of Moment. Now the Question is, whether these Absurdities which they object, relate to Things of whose Nature we are fully apprized. We are fully apprized of the Nature of Moral Evidence, it being that, upon which we do and must act in the daily Course of Life: and we cannot reject, what has so high a Degree of it as Chriftianity hath, without embracing Absurdities : Absurdities as to a Point with the Nature. of which we are fully acquainted, and
therefore, we may be sure Absurdities really S S R M. such. We cannot, for instance, reject divine Faith without cancelling all human, and breaking the Chain which connects Man to Man : a monstrous Absurdity most certainly, and big with fatal Consequences. But if the Absurdities charged upon Christianity relate to Points of which we are not thoroughly apprized; Nothing is more common, than in such Points to imagine Absurdities where there are none, and therefore they may be inaginary, 'not real Impoffibilities. Thus an ignorant American would think it absolutely impossible that our Thoughts might, without any oral Message, be conveyed from our Country to his. The Reason is, he wants an Idea, the Idea of Letters or Characters; which, as soon as he hath acquired, the seeming Impossibility vanisheth. And how many Ideas may we want, as to Things above our Ken, or Imperfectly revealed; which, fupposing we were Masters of them, would clear up every seeming Repugnancy to Reason? Thus again a Person unacquainted with Painting would deem it impossible, that an even Canvass should exhibit what is uneven, the human Body with all its Prominences and Depressions. A Stranger to Mathematics would think it a gross Absurdity to assert, that two Lines should be ever approaching one another, without a Pofli
SER M. bility of meeting. That there are Quan
tities infinitely small, some of which are infinitely greater than others ; that there is a series of them, each infinitely less than the preceding, and infinitely more considerable than the following approaching nearer and nearer, in an endless Progreffion to Nothing, which yet they never arrive at: These are Truths which would be looked upon by Men unskilled in Algebraic Calculations, as the Reveries of a diftempered Mind, but are thought, by the great Mafters of Science, to be Proofs of the Extent of human Understanding, and the utmost Efforts of our Abilities.
What then? Would you have us to admit any Thing that contradicts any clear Principle or evident Conclusion of Reason? No, I would have you act agreeably to the clear Dictates of Reason; it being a clear Dictate of Reason, that partial and imperfect Views may, and often do, occasion an Appearance of Wrongness and Absurdity, which a full comprehensive Knowledge of the whole Cafe entirely removes.
These Appearances of Absurdities are but Shadows, which are owing to a Privation of Light, or that the Light does not diffuse itself over the whole Body of Truth, which has to us it's dark as well as bright Side. We should remember that we know
many Things but in Part; that the most extenfive Understanding hạth it's Boundaries ;
IV. and that, when it is arrived at it's full Height, the Man cannot, however much Thought he may take, add one Cubit ta the Stature or Size of it: that though we may shorten the Line of our Knowledge, as we may do that of our Lives, by our own Default, we cannot extend it beyond the Period assigned by God: Or if we could, it would be but Labour and Sorrow : The Deity sometimes being equally gracious in what he has hidden from our Eyes, as in what he hath revealed to them.
After all, such an Answer as this is sufficient as to most, if not all, of the Objections against the main Articles of our Belief. And such an Answer as this, plain Sense, without much Learning, might suggest. “ Such a moral Evidence, as there " is for Christianity, is easy to be under
ftood; and such moral Evidence is the
only Guide of Life; that by which our “ Conduct is influenced, and our Behaviour “ determined in all practical Cases. Upon “ this therefore I will rest, as God intendis ed I should do: Whereas, your Objec
tions against the Poffibility of a general “ Resurrection, the Redemption, the Tri“ nity and other fundamental Doctrines,
depend upon metaphysical Intricacies, of " which we, the Bulk of Mankind, are no Judges at all, whether there be not some
Serm. « Flaw in them; and the very ableft Men
" are, it may be, but very incompetent
Judges. Shall I then be determined to « set Revelation afide, upon the Account 66 of what I do not understand at all, and “ Men of great Reach of Thought under“ stand but in Part, viz. fine-fpun Subtil“ ties of Disputation? Or shall I adhere
upon the Account of, what are eafy to be understood, moral Proofs ?' those
very Proofs, which are a Light unto my “ Paths, and direct my steps in the com
mon Pursuits of Life? Whatever Value
you may set on your laboured Deduc“ tions, and a long Chain of abstruse Rea! foning (as fome do upon far-fetched and “ costly Rarities) yet such is the Goodness “ of God, that those Arguments are gene
rally the best, which are the easiest w of Apprehension; as that Food is so, “ which is the easiest of Digestion. Away " then with your abstracted Arguments
against Religion, by which you, the Dif
puters of this World, can throw a studied “ Obfcurity over any great Truth, how=' “ ever clear, and give a plausible Turn to
any Falfhood, however palpable. They 6 seem to me to be mere Trials of Skilt " and Dexterity, and are not, I have heard,
quite so good as those of an ancient Philosopher * against the Posibility of * See Bayle's Dictionary in the Article Zeno.