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which the human mind frames of God is this general and complex, yet negative idea of incomprehenfibleness. There is a certain preeminence, if I may fo call it, in the Divine effence, &c. which utterly precludes investigation. But if fo, all myfteries, whether natural or religious, whether relative, e. g. to the extenfion of space, &c. or to the nature of the Deity; all these, if confidered purely as mysteries, will stand upon a level in point of credibility. And let a revelation be fupposed, all adventitious truths introduced thereby will be fixed upon the fame foot; because faith cannot have a ftronger foundation in human reason than in divine authority. This is granted without difficulty; but then as the deist denies the authenticity of those writings which we affirm to contain fuch revelation, so the heretic disputes the sense and scope of them. The queftion therefore is, whether the opinion of the one, and the unbelief of the other, is refpectively the refult of judgment, or of paffion; of conviction, or of pride; of impartial enquiry, or of unwillingness to submit the understanding of man to the

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the wisdom of God? For, I repeat it, neither the one nor the other can, confiftently with his own principles and acknowledgments, controvert the received sense, or deny the authority of those writings which the Church holds to be the Word of God, barely on account of myfterious truths contained in them. If the Divine Effence be neceffarily incomprehenfible, no Revelation can poffibly make it lefs fo; fo far from it, that the very idea of a Divine Revelation, with respect to that effence, implies a Revelation of mysteries; i. e. of truths undifcoverable, and inconceivable by our natural powers; and accordingly, the credit of Revelation is rather confirmed than weakened by the number and importance of fuch truths. For it is but natural to expect a more ample difplay of wonders, and larger difcoveries of fublime and facred points of faith in this Revelation; and furely God is not the lefs to be believed, the more he communicates to us of his nature, properties, and difpenfations. As far as these remarks affect Revelation in general, heretics in general will admit the just

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nefs of them; though at the very instant that they allow the writings in question to be the fole rule of faith, they endeavour, as much as may be, to reduce that rule to the measure of their own judgments and apprehenfions. I am however already juftified in afferting, that as much as fome people are averse to believing what they do not understand, they cannot avoid believing what they do not understand; and that therefore, on proper authority, it is full as reasonable to believe an hundred mysteries as one. (e) And here taking my leave of the deift, I would defire the heretic by what appellation foever diftinguished, to recollect, that Revelation left human nature as it found it; I mean with respect to our intellectual faculties; that, from the beginning of the creation to this very hour, man is to be confidered as a reasonable creature, as a free-agent, as sometimes believing upon competent evidence, fometimes governed by paffions, and fometimes influenced by prepoffeffion. A truth which accounts in a moment for the multitude of perfuafions which have engaged the fpeculative world. To expect,

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pect, or require that God should manifeft himfelf and his proceedings, &c. to every man fully and perfonally, is to destroy every notion not only of faith, but of obedience likewife; and to wish to invert the effential frame and conftitution of things. Difficulties, unfurmountable difficulties of many kinds occur to our contemplations on that frame and constitution; difficulties, on which the light of Revelation darts not a single beam. If we indulge the excurfive faculty of imagination beyond the bounds which reafon and scripture have fet us, we shall find ourselves inextricably entangled in perplexity, and fometimes in impiety too. Who fhall discover the confiftency between Divine prefcience and human free-will? Yet that man acts freely, and that God foreknows all events, and decrees accordingly, are equally truths not to be fhaken by any seeming irreconcileableness or contrariety whatsoever. So again that the most perfect freedom of agency must be ascribed to God, cannot poffibly be controverted; and yet does he not necessarily foreknow his own actions? Does

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not neceffarily act agreeably to the eternal rules of justice, wisdom, and holiness? That God is in no fenfe the author of evil, either natural or moral, every reafonable man, and much more every Chriftian will maintain; yet is it not certain, that had this world never been made, neither fin nor death could have entered into it? Human wifdom has fatigued itself to no purpose in the ventilation of these fubjects. (f) Many real truths, but at present seeming paradoxes, will doubtless be capable of future explication; and fpiritual things in general thould rather be received with the. humility of reverence, than encountered with the arrogance of difcuffion. There will be no end to doubtful difputations while men's fentiments are modified by a partial attachment to a favourite principle; and while truths, apparently oppofite and contradictory, are separately contended for, which ought both to be admittted; as ultimately they will be reconciled.

What has been here advanced concerning faith, or myfteries in general, will, I trust, fecure

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