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the doubts of the sceptic, and humble the pride of the philosopher.
And the relation of these facts is conveyed down to us with so many circumstances of truth, as no other history can parallel. We have, therefore, all the satisfaction of the reality of our Saviour's miracles, which the nature of the thing will admit, and, consequently, sufficient evidence of the divine authority in the support of the Gospel.
And if we look into the internal evidence: the moral duties contained in the Gospel are so calculated for the universal happiness of men, that those very persons, whose. vanity will not permit them to own that they receive any assistance from its precepts in their rules of morality, still equally contend with us for their being obligatory upon the practice of men.
If then, we should allow, that these duties were discoverable by reason, as well as enjoined to us by the authority of revelation, still, so long as they are acknowledged to be duties, and men own their obligation, they cannot pretend, that they contain any thing unworthy of God, or contrary to reason. Among the adversaries of Christianity, therefore, we do not find their party to be great, who pretend to deny the facts and miracles done by our Saviour and his apostles, nor theirs, who oppose the nécessity of observing the moral duties of the Gospel : But, in the other part of the internal evidence, consisting of matters of faith, the belief of which we affirm to be necessary to salvation, the advocates of infidelity are numerous, and the outcry is great, as if we endeavoured to lay such a burden
facts ture :
upon them as they are not able to bear.
But let us examine impartially the justice of these complaints.
Authority has always been allowed to be a just ground of assent. Whatsoever then the divine wisdom has thought fit to inform us in; whether it relates to his own nature and perfections, or our duty and conduct; we are bound to believe it on the authority of the revealer. Now to suppose that such a revelation contains any thing contrary to reason, implies a contradiction in the very terms: For, as God gave us both reason and revelation, it is inconsistent with his justice and goodness, to give us faculties to deceive us, and with his veracity, to reveal a falsehood. But, that there may be truths in this revelation above our capacities to comprehend, we may well conclude from the shortness of our knowledge in the common appearances of na
ture: for, notwithstanding the great and amazing discoveries in every part of natural philosophy, there are still many things far above the reach of reason either to comprehend or explain. Thus, for instance, we know that the planets perform their revolutions in certain periods, and that, notwithstanding their immense distances, their light is transmitted to us with incredible velocity: these are truths we every day experience: and yet, as to the manner in which they are effected, we must confess our igno
So likewise the production of animals, the vegetation of plants, the cohesion of matter, are things entirely above our comprehension; and yet no one doubts the reality of thein. How, again, our souls and bodies are united together, and act upon each other; how external objects cause inward sensations in us; we can no way demonstrate; and yet we should esteem him an ideot, who denied that these things were
Which ever way then we turn our eyes; whether we survey the variety of objects around us, or consider our own frame and composition of soul and body; the minutest things in nature, as well as those of the greatest magnitude, are equally above our comprehension, and we cannot account for their several operations : and yet, at the same time that we confess them to be mysteries, we believe them to be true; nay more, we must conform our actions to that belief: for, should we not offer to move, till we could account for the motion of our bodies being made by a thought in our minds, ve must for ever sit still. Should, again, the patient resolve not to try the efficacy of the medicine prescribed to him, till he could fully comprehend the manner of its operation, after all his search, he might die with despair. But men will not argue so absurdly in common life. They are contented to allow, that many things, nay every thing in nature, is above their finite comprehension, and yet they readily acknowledge both their existence and use for all the purposes of life. And if then in things natural, we cannot arrive at certainty, but are forced to act upon principles we do not understand, how absurd it is to suppose, that we should fully comprehend things that are spiritual, and how unreasonable is it to reject the doctrines of religion, because they contain some things incomprehensible?
But to shew this still more fully, let us only consider the attributes of God.
God is a being of infinite perfections : he is infinitely wise, powerful, just, and good. Now to assert that we can fully comprehend these
perfections, is, in short, the same thing as to affirın, that our capacities are infinite also. But all that we can pretend to know of the divine perfections, must be deduced from analogy; that whatever perfection is in the creature, must be, in the highest degree, in the creator. Yet, to say
that the wisdom of God is like to the wisdom of men, only extended to an infinite degree, or that the goodness of God is correspondent to the goodness of men infinitely enlarged, will be very far from giving us any perfect notion of infinite wisdom and goodness. Again, that God can do every thing that is possible, and that from infinite knowledge nothing can be concealed, are truths which cannot be denied: and yet, who will infer from thence, that he can fully comprehend the nature of an omnipotent and omniscient being, or the manner, in which these attributes are exerted and displayed? That God must necessarily exist in all points of duration, and that an infinite being must fill every part
of space, our reason informs us: yet how weak and imperfect are our notions and conceptions of eternity and immensity, and how unable are we to solve all the difficulties, which may
be started about these essential attributes of the Deity?