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to consider and judge of it as a matter of reason, and not swallow it, without examination, as a matter of faith.
$ 9. First, whatever proposition is re- Revelation vealed, of whose truth our mind, by its natural faculties and notions, cannot judge; where reathat is purely matter of faith, and above
probably, Secondly, all propositions, whereof the ought to be mind, by the use of its natural faculties, hearkened. can come to determine and judge from naturally acquired ideas, are matter of reason ; with this difference still, that in those concerning which it has but an uncertain evidence, and so is persuaded of their truth only upon probable grounds, which still admit a possibility of the contrary to be true, without doing violence to the certain evidence of its own knowledge, and overturning the principles of its own reason; in such probable propositions, I say, an evident revelation ought to determine our assent even against probability. For where the principles of reason have not evidenced a proposition to be certainly true or false, there clear revelation, as another principle of truth, and ground of assent, may determine; and so it may be matter of faith, and be also above reason. Because reason, in that particular matter, being able to reach no higher than probability, faith gave the determination, where reason came short; and revelation discovered on which side the truth lay.
10. Thus far the dominion of faith reaches, and that without any violence or
where reahinderance to reason; which is not injured son can afor disturbed, but assisted and improved, ford certain by new discoveries of truth coming from knowledge, the eternal fountain of all knowledge. hearkened Whatever God hath revealed, is certainly to. true; no doubt can be made of it. This is the proper object of faith: but whether it be a divine revelation or no, reason must judge; which
can never permit the mind to reject a greater evidence to embrace what is less evident, nor allow it to entertain probability in opposition to knowledge and certainty. There can be no evidence that any traditional revelation is of divine, original, in the words we receive it, and in the sense we understand it, so clear and so certain as that of the principles of reason: and therefore nothing that is contrary to, and inconsistent with, the clear and self-evident dictates of reason, has a right to be urged or assented to as a matter of faith, wherein reason hath nothing to do. Whatsoever is divine revelation ought to over-rule all our opinions, prejudices, and interest, and hath a right to be received with full assent. Such a submission as this, of our reason to faith, takes not away the landmarks of knowledge: this shakes not the foundations of reason, but leaves us that use of our faculties for which they were given us.
11. If the provinces of faith and reaIf the boun. daries benot
son are not kept distinct by these boundaset between ries, there will, in matters of religion, be faith and no room for reason at all; and those ex
travagant opinions and ceremonies that
are to be found in the several religions of gancy in re
the world will not deserve to be blamed. ligion can be For to this crying up of faith, in opposicontradict
tion to reason, we may, I think, in good ed..
measure ascribe those absurdities that fill almost all the religions which possess and divide mankind. For men having been principled with an opinion, that they must not consult reason in the things of religion, however apparently contradictory to common sense, and the very principles of all their knowledge, have let loose their fancies and natural superstition; and have been by them led into so strange opinions, and extravagant practices in religion, that a considerate man cannot but stand amazed at their follies, and judge themi so far from being acceptable to the great and wise God, that he cannot avoid thinking
reason, no enthusiasm or extrava
them ridiculous, and offensive to a sober good man. So that, in effect, religion, which should most distinguish us from beasts, and ought most peculiarly to elevate us, as rational creatures, above brutes, is that wherein men often appear most irrational and more senseless than beasts themselves. “Credo, quia impossibile est;" I believe, because it is impossible, might in a good man pass for a sally of zeal; but would prove a very ill rule for men to choose their opinions or religion by
$ 1. He that would seriously set upon Love of the search of truth, ought in the first place, truth necesto prepare his mind with a love of it." For sary. he that loves it not will not take much pains to get it, nor be much concerned when he misses it. There is nobody in the commonwealth of learning who does not profess himself a lover of truth; and there is not a rational creature that would not take it amiss to be thought otherwise of. And yet, for all this, one may truly say, that there are very few lovers of truth for truth-sake, even amongst those who persuade themselves that they are so. How a man may know whe ther he be so in earnest, is worth inquiry: and I think there is one unerring mark of it, viz. the not entertaining any proposition with greater assurance than the proofs it is built upon will warrant. Whoever goes beyond this measure of assent, it is plain, receives not truth in the love of it; loves not truth for truth-sake, but for some other by-end. For the evidence that any proposition is true (except such as are
self-evident) lying only in the proofs a man has of it, whatsoever degrees of assent he affords it beyond the degrees of that evidence, it is plain that all the surplusage of assurance is owing to some other affection, and not to the love of truth: it being as impossible that the love of truth should carry my assent above the evidence there is to me that it is true, as that the love of truth should make me assent to any proposition for the sake of that evidence, which it has not, that it is true; which is in effect to love it as a truth because it is possible or probable that it may not be true. In any truth that gets not possession of our minds by the irresistible light of self-evidence, or by the force of demonstration, the arguments that gain it assent are the vouchers and gage of its probability to us; and we can receive it for no other than such as they deliver it to our understandings. Whatsoever credit or authority we give to any proposition, more than it receives from the principles and proofs it supports itself upon, is owing to our inclinations that way, and is so far a derogation from the love of truth as such; which, as it can receive no evidence from our passions or interests, so it should receive no tincture from them. A forward- § 2. The assuming an authority of dicness to dic. tating to others, and a forwardness to
prescribe to their opinions, is a constant whence.
concomitant of this bias and corruption of our judgments. For how almost can it be otherwise, but that he should be ready to impose on another's belief, who has already imposed on his own? Who can reasonably expect arguments and conviction from him, in dealing with others, whose understanding is not accustomed to them in his dealing with himself? Who does violence to his own faculties, tyrannizes over his own mind, and usurps the prerogative that belongs to truth alone, which is to command assent by only its own authority, i. e. by and in proportion to that evidence which it carries with it.
§ 3. Upon this occasion I shall take the
Force of enliberty to consider a third ground of as
thusiasm. sent, which with some men has the same authority, and is as confidently relied on as either faith or reason; I mean enthusiasm : which, laying by reason, would set up revelation without it. Whereby in effect it takes away both reason and revelation, and substitutes in the room of it the ungrounded fancies of a man's own brain, and assumes them for a foundation both of opinion and conduct. § 4. Reason is natural revelation, where
Reason and by the eternal Father of light, and foun
revelation, tain of all knowledge, communicates to mankind that portion of truth which he has laid within the reach of their natural faculties: revelation is natural reason enlarged by a new set of discoveries communicated by God immediately, which reason vouches the truth of, by the testimony and proofs it gives that they come from God. So that he that takes away reason, to make way for revelation, puts out the light of both, and does much-what the same as if he would persuade a man to put out his eyes, the better to receive the remote light of an invisible star by a telescope.
$ 5. Immediate revelation being a much Rise of eneasier way for men to establish their opi- thusiasm. nions, and regulate their conduct, than the tedious and not always successful labour of strict reasoning, it is no wonder that some have been very apt to pretend to revelation, and to persuade themselves that they are under the peculiar guidance of heaven in their actions and opinions, especially in those of them which they cannot account for by the ordinary methods of knowledge, and principles of reason. Hence we see that in all ages men, in whom melancholy has mixed with devotion, or whose conceit of themselves has raised them into an opinion of a greater familiarity with God, and a nearer admittance to his favour than is afforded to others, have