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cause it is evident from the Divine Attributes, that God doth confirm this Humane Testimony by his own.
III. The Argument then proceeds thus : If the Scriptures were false, it would be impossible to discover them to be so ; and it is inconsistent with the Truth and Goodness of Almighty God, to suffer a Deceit of this nature to pass upon Mankind, without any poffibility of a Discovery; therefore it follows, that they are not false. Here is, 1. The Object, or Thing to be believed, viz. that the Revelation delivered to us in the Scriptures, is from God. Motive or Evidence to induce our Belief, viz. Humáne Testimony. 3. A confirmation of that Testimony, or the Formal Principle and Reason of our Belief, viz. the Divine Goodness and Truth. The Obje&t therefore, or Thing believed, is the same to us that it was to those who saw the Miracles by which the Scriptures stand confirmed, viz. the revealed Will of God; and the Ground or Foundation of our Belief, is the same that theirs was, viz. the divine Goodness and Truth, whereby we are assured, that God would nor suffer Miracles to be wrought in his own Name, according to Prophecies formerly delivered, and with all other circumstances of credibility, only to confirin a Lie. The only difference then between the resolution of Faith in us, and in the Christians who were converted by the Apostles themselves, is this, that tho’ we believe the same things, and upon the same grounds and reasons with them, yet we have not the same immediate Motives or Evidence to induce our Belief; or to satisfie us in these Reasons, and convince us, that the Revealed Will of God, contained in the Scriptures, is to be believed upon these grounds; that is, to satisfie and convince us, that the belief of the Scriptures being the Word of God, is finally refolved into the Authority of God himself; and is as well certified to us, as his Divine Attributes
can render it. For they were assured of this from what their own Senses perceived ; but we have our assurance of it from the Testimony of others.
The Question therefore will be, whether the Motives and Arguments for this Belief in us, or the means whereby we become assured, that the Revealed Will of God is contained in the Scriptures, be not as sufficient to produce a Divine Faith in us, and to establish our Faith upon the Divine Authority, as the Motives and Arguments which those had, who lived with the Apostles, and saw their Miracles, could be to produce that Faith in them, which resolved it self into the Divine Authority. And this Enquiry will depend upon these Two Things: 1. Whether we may not be aflured of some things as certainly from the Testimony of others, as from our own Senses. 2. Whether this be not the present case, relating to the resolution of Faith. I fhall therefore consider in the first place, the Certainty which we have for the Matters of Fact, by wirich the Authority of the Scriptures is proved and confirmed to us, compared with the Evidence of Sense, and will then apply it to the resolution of Faith.
I. In many cases Men seem generally agreed, that there is as much cause to believe what they know from others, as what they see and experience themselves. For there may be such circumstances of credibility, as equal the evidence even of Sense it felf; no evidence can satisfie Sense so much indeed, nor perhaps so much affect the Passions, as that of Sense; but there may be other evidence, which may give as clear conviction, and altogether as good satisfaction to our Reason,as that which is immediately derived from our Senses, concerning the Being of Objects, or the Truth of Matters of Fact. Thus those who never travelled to the Indies, do as little doubt that there is such a place, as those who have been never so often there and all Men believe, there was such a Man as Julius Cafur,
with as little scruple as if they had lived in his time, and had seen and spoke with him. I suppose no Man in his wits makes any more doubt, but there are such places as Judea and Jerusalem, . from the constant report of Historians and Travellers, than if he had been in those places himself, and had lived the greatest part of his Life there :: and the greatest Infidel that I know of, never pretended yet to disbelive, that there was such a Person as our Saviour Christ. But all Men think themselves as well assured of things of this nature upon the credit of others, as if they had seen them themselves. For how doubtful and intricate foever some things may be, for want of knowledge or credit in the Relaters, yet there are other things delivered with that agreement and certainty on all hands, that to doubt of them would be as unreasonable, as todonbt of what we our felves fee and hear.
And if our Saviour's Resurre&ion, for instance, be of this nature, we can with as little reason doubt of it, as if we had lived at that time, and had conversed with him after his Resurrection from the Dead. But we have as great assurance that he was alive again after his Crucifixion, as that he 'ever lived at all, and we have at least all the assurance that there was such a Person as Christ, that we can have, that there once lived any
other Man at that distance of time from us. We can no more doubt, that our Saviour was born in the Reign of Augustus Cæsar, and was crucified under Tiberius, than that there were once such Emperors in the World; nay, we have it much better attested, that Christ was born, and was crucified, and rose again, than that there ever were such Princes as these two Emperors: for no Man ever made it his business to go about the World to certifie this, and to testifie the truth of it at his Death. But the Apostles themselves, and their Disciples and Converts, and innumerable others ever since, from the beginning of Christianity, have afferted the particulars of the Life, and Death, and
Resurrection of our Saviour, under all Dangers, and Torments, and Deaths ; and have made it their great aim and design, both living and dying, to bear Testimony
to the Truth of the Gospel. So that a Man may as well doubt of any Matter of Fact that ever was done before his own time, or at a great distance from him, as doubt of these Fundamentals of the Christian Religion; and yet there is no Man, but thinks himself as certain of some things at least, which were done a long time ago, or a great way off, as if he had been at the doing of them himself
. Indeed, in some respects we seem to have more evidence than those could have that lived in the beginning of Christianity ; for they could see but some Miracles, we have the benefit of all; they relyed upon their own Senses, and upon the Senses of such as they knew and conversed with; we upon the Senses of innumerable People, who successively beheld them for the space of divers hundred Years together : So that whoever will not believe the Scriptures, neither would he believe, though one rose from the dead ; that is, though the greatest Miracle were wrought for his Conviction. This was said of the Old Testament, and therefore may with greater reason be said of Thar and the New both.
And we have besides, one sort of evidence, which those that lived at the first planting of Christianity, could not have ; for we see many of those Prophecies fulfilled, which our Saviour foretold concerning his Church ; we know how it sprung up and flourished, and from what small and unlikely beginnings it has spread it self into all corners of the Earth, and continues to this day, notwithstanding all the malice of Men and Devils to root it out, and destroy it. The continuance and success of the Gospel under so impro bable circumstances, was Matter of Faith chiefly to the first Christians, but to us is Matter of Fact, and the Object of Sense : they saw the Work indeed pro
sper in their hands; but their Faith only could tell them that it should flourish for so many Ages, as we know it has already done. This is a standing and invincible proof to us, at this distance of Time, and has the force of a two-fold Argument, the one of a power of Miracles, the other of Prophecies: we know that a miraculous Power has been manifested in conquering all opposition, and in a wonderful manner bringing those things to pass, which to human Wisdoin and Power are altogether impossible. And the fulfilling hereby of Prophecies, is a visible confirmation to us of the truth of those Miracles, which, by the testimony of others, we believe to have been done by the Prophets, whose Prophecies we see fulfilled. And since it must be acknowledged that things may be fo well attefted, that we may with as much
reason doubt of the truth of our own Senses, as of the Authority, by which we are assured of the truth of them, and muft turn Scepticks, or worse, if we will not believe them; we may conclude, as well upon the account of these Prophecies, which we our selves see fulfilled, as upon all other accounts, that the Historical Evidence in proof of the Christian Religion, amounts to all the certainty that a Matter of Fax is capable of, not excepting even that of Sense it self.
II. Let us now apply all this to the Resolution of Faith, and give an account how a divine and infallible Faith may be produced in us. Human Testimony is the motive by which we believe the Scriptures to contain God's revealed will: This certifies us, that such Miracles were wrought, and fuch Prophecies delivered, as give to the Scriptures the full evidence and authority of a Divine Revelation. If therefore it be enquired, why we believe the Scriptures to be the Word of God? The Answer is, upon the account of the Miracles and Prophecies, which concurring with all other requisite circumstances in a Revelation, confirm the truth of them. If it be ask'd, how we know