A DISCOURSE OF THE Use of Reason IN Matters of Religion: Shewing, That CHRISTIANITY Contains nothing Repugnant to RIGHT REASON; Against ENTHUSIASTS and DEISTS.

Written in Latin by the Reverend Dr. RVST, late Lord Bishop of Dromore in Ireland: AND Translated into English, with Annotations upon it, By HEN. HALLYWELL.

LONDON: Printed by Hen. Hills, Jun for Walter Kettilby at the Bishop's-Head in St. Paul's Church-yard, 1683.

TO THE Reverend and profoundly Learned Dr. Henry More, Fellow of Christ's-Colledge in Cambridge.

Honoured Sir,

THat I presume to intitle this Di­scourse, with its affixed Annota­tions to your Great Name, proceeds from a real sense, that it is but your just due, who have merited so much of the Learned World, and whose Labours and Pains to advance all useful Knowledge have been so indefatigable; more espe­cially in rendring the Christian Doctrine in all its Parts such as it ought to be, [Page] that is, Rational and Unexceptionable, bringing the Glories both of Greek and Barbarick, and whatever other piece of Ancient Wisdom was ever esteemed, to adorn and beautifie the new Jerusalem: and partly because you were an intimate Friend of the Reverend Author, whose Great Soul could not take up with little and dwindling Conceipts, but strove to enlarge his own Mind with noble and important Truths, and became a Happy Instrument in promoting the same generous Temper in others. And now, Sir, give me leave, among the other Motives which persuaded me to this Address, to add this as none of the least, that I may testifie to the World to be what I really am,

An humble Honourer of your Virtues, HEN. HALLYWELL.

The PREFACE to the READER.

READER,

THat I may do right to that Great and Excellent Person the Author of this Discourse I have adventured to pub­lish, and likewise obviate all Cavils and Mistakes which freakish Wits may make up­on the Account of giving a Reason of our Faith, it will be needful to suggest somthing by way of Preface; as

1. That this Discourse is principally le­vel'd (as is intimated by the Reverend Au­thor himself) against Enthusiasts and Deists: The one pretending to immediate Inspirati­on, and so taking the various Impulses of their own Private Spirits as the sole Crite­rium to know and discern the Will of God, though they be never so extravagant and Contrary to the common Reason of Man­kind: And the other pleading only for a Natural Religion in opposition to any Par­ticular Mode or Way of Divine Revelation; And hence though they profess to acknow­ledge a God and Providence, yet have with­al a mean and low esteem of the Scriptures and Christianity, as if the Christian Religi­on [Page] were a thing that could not well be Apo­logized for, nor any fair and rational Ac­count given of it. Wherefore Theism be­ing so opposite to Christian Religion as Christian, and the Natural Current of En­thusiasm falling at last into down-right Atheism, it became necessary to Assert a Modest and Discrcet use of Reason in Things of Religion, and to shew that the Christian Religion will bear the strictest and severest Tryal of Right and unprejudic'd Reason.

2ly. That our Learned Author had no Intent or Design to abet or countenance Capricio's of such pert persons as think themselves obliged to believe and profess no­thing more then they can maintain by their own solitary Reason applying it self to the Scriptures. Which Presumption what strange work it hath made in the World is evident from the Socinians and other Sectarists, who upon this very Ground are really bewildred in their Speculations of Things, and under Pretence of Reason have obtruded their own Fancies upon the World, and vented such crude and indigested Notions as are not only inconsistent with the clear Current of Scripture, but contrary to the sense of the best and purest Antiquity.

Wherefore (3ly.) according to the inten­tion [Page] and meaning of the Author in this Di­scourse, the Authority of the Primitive Church before the Times of Apostasie, and of Reformed Churches in such Things where­in they generally agree with the Primitive times wherein the Church was Symmetral, is to be taken in as one solid Reason of our Faith and Belief. For the Spirit of Prophesie, which is the Testimony of Jesus, having so clearly predicted the Times of the Apostasie of the Church, it is manifest that the Au­thority and Profession of the Ancient Church while it was Symmetral and Apostolical ought to be had in the greatest Esteem and Veneration, and stand as a light whereby to steer [...]afe from those dangerous Rocks of Errors upon which they that have neglected this and ventured wholly to their own Rea­son have split themselves. Nor is the Au­thority of our own Church to be less re­garded; for the being with the rest of Re­formed Christendom so plainly indigitated and pointed at by the Rising of the Witnes­ses in that Divine Book of the Apocalypse, immediately upon which follows that joy­ful Acclamation in Heaven, The Kingdoms of this World are become the Kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ, it cannot be but a migh­ty Confirmation and strengthning to any [Page] Man's Faith to see so clear a Testimony and Approbation of that Church whereof he is a Member given by the Spirit of Pro­phesie, that it is really emerged and risen in­to the state and condition of the Church when it was Symmetral and Apostolical. And this will further appear to be of huge Consequence to private men, and of but mean Capacity in the dicussing of Things. For they being neither Philosophers, nor guiding themselves by that Synosura of the Unapostatized Church, nor of our own Church reformed into the Condition of the Church while it continu'd Symmetral, if they be pert and confident, or follow such pert & confident Guides into what Errors may they not run! Wherefore here such of the Populacy will find a solid and sure Rule for their safe conduct and guidance in rendring an Ac­count or Reason of their Faith. These things I have hinted as well to prevent all sinister Interpretations of the Sense of that Pious and Learned Prelate now with God, as to free my self from all Suspicion in my Annotations of setting up Private Reason against the Au­thority of the Ancient and Unapostatized Church, or our own Church so excellently well temper'd and reformed according to the Primitive Pattern.

H. H.
1 PET. 3. 15. [...]

NOn me pudet Evangelii Christi, dixit ille magnus Apostolus, Gamaliele Praeceptore gaudens▪ omni tum Judaicâ tum Graecâ Doctrinâ instructissimus; Adeóque Reli­gione Christianâ undique oppressâ & despicatui habitâ, Judaeis scandalo, Graecis ludibrio, nihilominus spretâ ignominiâ, cruce contemptâ, Paratus sum (inquit) Vobis qui Romae estis, apud egregios Urbis istius, non Armorum magis quam Artium Magistrae, Philosophos & Oratores, Evangelium praedicare. Quippe etiamsi non defuere sibimet de suâ sapientiâ magnificè plau­dentes, [...]aecitatis interea & Ignorantiae tenebris obdu­cti, qui Doctrinam Evangelicam stultitiae insimulant & deridendam exhibent: Veruntamen si quis, seposito omni inordinato affectu & praejudicatâ Opinione, rem ut decet, sincero & incorrupto Judicio aestimaverit, compertum habebit Religionem Christianam Poten­tiam esse & sapientiam Dei, rationi apprimè concinen­tem, omni fide Dignissimam.

Quemadmodum verò nobis Exemplo praeivit Insig­nis ille Doctor Gentium, ita pariter Apostolus Cir­cumcisionis verbis modò▪lectis hortatur, Paratisemper sitis ad satisfactionem omni poscenti vos Rationem de eâ quoe in vobis est spe: i. e. Parati estote causam reddere cur sitis Christiani: Atque in hanc sententiam [Page 2] vox [...] saepius occurrit in Actis & Scriptis Paulinis: Act. 22. 1. Phil. 1. 7. & 17. 2 Tim. 4. 16. Per [...] intelligo Doctrinam Evangeli­cam, quo sensu idem Vocabulum usurpatum legimus, Act. 26. 7.

In re Religionis intervenit usus Rationis.
Ita comparata ést Religio Christiana ut de eâ Ratio reddi possit.
Paratum esse oportet fidei suae rationem reponere quisquis Evangelio nomen dederit.

Ea sunt quae ex hoc loco observanda veniunt. In Religione eligendâ non vacare prorsus Rationem, & ejusmodi esse Religionem Christianam, quae nihil con­tineat Rectae Rationi adversum, contra Enthusiastas & Deistas praesenti disquisitione demonstrandum in me recipio.

Per Rationem non Intelligo Superbiae, Avaritiae, Cupidinis, Irae aut alterius cujusl [...]bet pravi affectûs dictamina: Haec nimirum ea est Carnis sapientia, Deo nec minus verae Rationi inimica: Hi sunt illi [...] qui evertendi sunt, 2 Cor. 10. 4, 5. Hoc illud [...] quod in Captivitatem redigendum est in obedientiam Chri­sti; nimirum Ratiocinationes & discursus isti qui Car­ni & Cupiditatibus nostris inserviunt. Hic est ille [...] qui non capit eaqu [...] sunt spiritûs Dei; stultitia enim ipsi sunt, [...] [...] Cor. 2. 14. Is enim est homo Animalis qui sensu & Appe­titu ducitur. [...] enim (ut satis nôrunt qui veterum scripta vel parum delibârunt) est ea Animae facultas quae Corpori adaptatur. Qui verò talis est spiritui Dei & Doctrinae Evangelicae perpetuò adversatur; & quae in [...]bi dicta sunt mera st [...]ltitia videntur, neque ea scrie ▪ potest, quia spiritualiter, h. e. mente humili, [Page 3] compositis affectibus, sereno lumine, puro, internó (que) sensu discernuntur.

Haec est illa sapientia superbiâ & fastu tumida, apud quam Verbum Crucis pro stultitiâ habetur. Obscura enim Christi Vita & probrosa Mors ridiculo semper1 Cor. 1. 18. erat Animo (ut videtur) sublimioribus Notionibus elato; Haec denique est illa [...] pravis affectibus aut vanâ scientiae opinione inebriatorum: Quam tamen Deus & quili­bet vir sapiens summam reputat stultitiam. Hujus­modi [...] & Ratiocinationes & Sapientia non sunt rectae Rationis foetus, sed-mentis Cupiditatibus occae­catae fallaciae & Paralogismi.

Per rectam itaque Rationem intelligo facultatem Animae humanae insitam, quâ dignoscat rationes, mu­tuásque affectiones rerum, unúmque ex alio arguit & concludit. Atque Rationi sic Intellectae aïo Religio­nem Christianam non adversari.

Duo sunt qui huc pertinent usitati loquendi modi; Videlicet aliquid posse esse vel supra vel contra Ra­tionem.

At verò ut quod res est dicamus, quicquid nobis vel credendum proponitur ne quidem supra Rationem esse debet, ni verba ista in eam sententiam accipienda sint, quod sit altius & à sensu communi remotius quàm ut ab Intellectu adinveniri possit. Equidem Articuli quidam Fidei dici possunt esse supra Rationem quoad rei credendae modos quosdam non revelatos: Ita v. g. superat vim Rationis nosse exactè modum Resurrectionis & Glorificationis nostrae, aut quaenam illae sint futuri se [...]uli Voluptates & Gaudia, aut quo­modo Divinae Hypostases sint Unus Deus; aut Divina & Humana natura sint Unus Christus: sed de his rebus neque expressa est revelatio nec explicita requiritur fides: Et haec obscuritas non parum con [...]ert ad [Page 4] Reverentiam conciliandam Christianae Religioni.

At nihil est quod explicitè credendum proponitur quod Rationis Captum, ita ut de eo ne conceptus quidem formari possit, ex [...]edat. Nam fides consistit in Assensu; Assensus sequitur Judicium; Judicium nu [...]lum esse potest de re ignotâ & non intellectâ. Ergo quod omnem Intelligentiam excedit, omnem etiam excedit fidem. Et qui sibi persuadere conatur quod credat rem non Intellectam, nescit quid credit, sed vocabulis quibusdam aptè dispositis & grande quiddam sonanti­bus, quibus tamen nullus in mente respondet Con­ceptus, sibimet miserè imponit, dúmque Mysterio cuidam non Intellecto fidem adhibere somniat, meras consectatur Verborum Umbras, quibus velis subductis, fides sua sensúsque omnis evanuit.

Religionem verò Christianam nihil continere rectae Rationi repugnans, simúlque usum intervenire Rationis in Religionis negotio sequentibus Argumen­tis probatum dabo.

1. Primò, Deum quicquam credendum proponere, quod rectae Rationi contradicat, aliquid ex his quatuor Absurdis (nec cogitanti mihi occurrit quintum) ne­cessariò infert, aut Deum posse decipi, aut posse deci­pere, aut Rationes & Affectiones rerum non esse aeter­nas & Immutabiles, aut denique facultates humanas, esse errori obnoxias, cùm maximè claram & distinctam habent de objectis suis perceptionem. Horum Primum & secundum repugnant Notioni & Ideae quam de Deo mentibus nostris concepimus.

Tertium quod attinet, est quidem non Nemo qui Rationes Rerum contingentes statuit & ad Arbitrium Mutabiles, Blasphemiamque, Mendacium, Perju­rium, ipsúmque adeò Divinae Majestatis odium posse subire rationem Virtutum & cultûs Deo grati. At Deus bone! quam temeraria quam detestanda Dog­mata! [Page 5] aut aeterno silentio obruenda aut non sine hor­rore nominanda. Percurre Vetera Concilia, nullam invenies haeresin damnandam priùs, aut omni magis dignam Anathemate. Ipsius Inferni Abyssus si pan­derentur Viscera, nihil evomere possunt magis abomi­nandum, aut blasphemum magis. Enimverò sapien­tiâ, Immutabilitate, Bonitate reliquisque quas ei attri­buimus perfectionibus Deum spoliat; Omnis Discursûs Principia & Fundamenta evertit; Omnia etiam Con­tradictoria probabilia reddit; Omnem in Promissis Divinis fiduciam destruit; Omnémque spem & expe­ctationem futurae felicitatis profligat: quas omnes Consequentias ex ho [...] Principio naturaliter oriri aliàs probavimus, & cuilibet attentius consideranti facilè patebit.

Quartum verò, Quod Deus nobisejusmodi insereret facultates quae tum falsae esse possint, cùm clarissimè & distinctissimè objecta sua per [...]ipiant, adversatur Bonitati & Veracitati Divinae. Praeterea fieri non potest ut Deus quicquam credendum revelet, nisi hoc prius jacto fundamento, facultatibus nostris adhiben­dam esse fidem. Nihil enim nobis à Deo proponi potest nisi sit conforme alicui facultati: At si facultas ista cùm maximè clarè & distinctè percipit Objectum suum, non est à Deceptione immunis, quomodo nobis innotescet errorem hunc non cadere in praesens id quod­cunque sit negotium, praesertim si Ratio facultatum nostrarum Princeps clarè & distinctè intelligat illud esse falsum quod nobis ofsertur sub specie Divinae Re­velationis? Haec enim Revelatio accipienda est aut ab Auditu aut alio aliquo sensu externo, aut denique ab internâ Imaginatione. At num non potiori jure exi­stimanda erit illusio si adversetur clarae & evidenti Rationi, quàm quod Ratio nostra quae in Ducem & [Page 6] Directricem à Deo collata est deciperetur in maximè claro & distincto Rerum Conceptu? Nam si abjicia­mus Rationem, nulla alia facultas ductrix reliqua est praeter sensum Externum ejúsque inclinationes, & stultam levémque Phantasiam infinitis Deceptionibus obnoxiam. Quapropter Ratione valere jussâ, annon nosmet exponimus illusioni cujuslibet spiritûs circula­torii qui praestigiis suis Divinam simulaverit Virtutem? Quamobrem, si Moses legem suam constituit tan­quam lapidem lydium quo probaretur quicunque se jactitaret Prophetam, monens populum suum, quod si quis signa aut miracula ederet non tamen ei auscultan­dum esse, si quid doceret legi isti adversum quam ipsis à Deo tradiderat: An non nos pariter decet ad Legem Naturae & Rectae Rationis quae stylo Adamantino mentibus nostris inscripta est tanquam ad Normam & Regulam minimè fallacem revocare omnes quicunque Divinam Authoritatem obtenderint? (Obiter moneo sermonem esse de Ratione Incorruptâ, malis affectibus liberâ & spiritûs sancti lumine collustratâ) Hujus au­tem Ducis auspicio destituti, fieri potest ut confidentes quidem, & obstinatè persuasi, at nullatenus certi simus nos unquam viâ rectâ incedere. Nec refert dixisse Rationem posse quidem judicium ferre in rebus huma­nis, nequaquam tamen in Divinis. Etsi enim id verum sit de Ratione malis Passionibus occaecata, & omninò locum teneat in üs rebus quae objecta sunt potiùs gustûs & sensûs interni quàm Rationis; At secus se res habet ubi solius Intellectûs assensus requiritur. Quicquid enim exhibetur explicitè credendum, de eo primùm formandus est conceptus: de quocunque autem con­ceptum formamus, Ratio aut detegit terminorum qui­bus constat Harmoniam, reique ipsius cum communi aliquâ Notione consensum; atque ideò pronunciat [Page 7] eam esse veram: aut deprehendit Terminos esse con­tradictorios & repugnantes, rémque innato alicui Prin­cipio è Diametro oppositam, atque ita judicat eam esse falsam: Aut cernit Terminos esse partim concordes, partim Dissonos, aut nullam omnino ad invicem Rela­tionem habere: atque hinc affirmat rem aut proba­bilem aut possibilem. Et si quod ingens Miraculum edatur ad confirmandam alteram sive probabilitatis sive possibilitatis partem, tum demum Ratio calculum suum adjiciet, fidem esse adhibendam. V. g. Finga­mus quod jam factum est, quendam Maria ac Terras ambientem, huic negotio intentum ut doceat atque instruat humanum Genus in suo erga Deum atque homines officio, aeternam Beatitudinem sub conditione obedientiae pollicentem, ipso interim degente vitam inoffensam atque innocentissimam; & simul seipsum praedicante tanquam Legislatorem à Deo missum, & quod omnis Potestas cùm in Terris tum etiam in Coelis ei delata fit, & quod ipsius interventu omnes preces & gratiarum actiones sunt Deo offerendae: Nihil hîc ha­betur contradictorium, aut Naturae Principiis repug­nans. Facilè tamen suspicatur Ratio subesse aliquam superbiam & Divini Nominis & cultus affectationem. At verò si quod nudè spectatum possibile videtur, fue­rit Divinâ Potentiâ consignatum, hujus Doctrinae Au­thore hujusmodi miracula edente, qualia nemo hacte­nus vidit Mortalium, Ratio extemplò in eam senten­tiam ibit, rem esse admodum credibilem: Atqui si hic homo docuisset aliquid Rectae Rationis Dictamini adversum, si introduxisset Doctrinam impiam & pro­fanam, aut effiaenem vivendi licentiam, & iisdem miraculis fidem extorquere sategisset, se à Deo missum ut hujusmo [...]i nobis persuaderet, Ratio nostra sugges­sis [...]t ilicò fuisse eum Impostorem & Deceptorem: [Page 8] quoniam nihil Legi Naturae aut Rectae Rationi contra­rium à Deo aut quoquam Divinam Authoritatem ob­tinente promulgari potest. Et licet urgeri possit esse contra Veracitatem Divinam, testimonium praebere Mendacio, & proinde quicquid innititur Miraculorum fide (cùm haec fere unica sint voluntatis Dei externa in­dicia) necesse videri à Deo originem suam deducat, nihilominus quia nequeo certò scire, num non haec fiant in tentationem, aut alium aliquem finem, mihi quidem ignotum, infinitae tamen sapientiae consenta­neum, potius diffiderem huic Ratiocinationi, quàm hoc Argumento motus, quicquam admitterem tanquam coelitus profectum, quod Naturae Principiis evidenter adversatur.

2. Secundum Argumentum. Ita comparata est Ho­minis Natura, ut omnino fieri non possit, ut rei alicui Assensum praeberet absque ductu Rationis. Quod ut clarius pateat mutuanda sunt quaedam praesenti Insti­tuto accommodata à magno illo Barone insignis istius libelli de veritate Authore. Ex illius ita que sententiâ quatuor sunt Facultates quibus in rerum Notitiam per­venimus: Instinctus Naturalis, sive Facultas Notionum communium Discretrix; Sensus Internus, Sensus Exter­nus & Discursus.

De quibus magnum illud Effatum, pluris certè facien­dum quàm integra alia Volumina de Animâ ejúsque Facultatibus conscripta; Quod neque per instinctum na­turalem, sensum internum, sensum externum, neque discur­sum innotescit, tanquam verum proprie dictum, nullo pa­cto probari potest. At verò cum hae quatuor sint fa­cultates, & quicquid credendum proponitur harum alicui conforme esse necesse sit, dictat Ratio Instinctui Naturali, Sensui Interno, Sensui Externo, singulis rite dispositis adhibendam esse fidem. Ipsa verò (quod [Page 9] ejus est munus) praedictis facultatibus in auxilium vo­catis, principiis primis & suâ luce claris subnixa, advocat discursus, conclusiones deducit. Naturali Instinctui semper praebenda est fides: sensus cùm externus tum internus aliquando falli potest; & proinde aliquando credendus est, aliquando non item; atque penes solam rationem est hujus discriminis judicium. Nulla enim alia facultas reliqua est cui hoc muneris deferatur; Ergo nulli reiassentiri potest mens humana quin facem praeferre debeat Recta Ratio, vel saltem aliqua ejus Umbra. Ergo fieri non potest ut Religio Christiana, quae nobis credenda proponitur, assensum cogat contra nitente Rectâ Ratione.

At dum respiro paulisper, Enthusiastas audio iteratis vicibus spiritum oggerentes; & nemo fere est quin spiritum intus testante obtenderit, ne ei minùs quàm reliquis Deus favere videatur. Si quaeratur unde digno­scant spiritus testimonium, respondent, perinde ac solis splendorem, ex proprio lumine. Sed instamus porrò, Testimonium quod spiritus sibimet ipsi perhibet, estne valida & obstinata persuasio, aut exultatio & ecstasis gaudii, aut zelus quidam sive fervor animi, an denique Dignitatis & Excellentiae earum rerum quae revelan­tur, clara & sapida persuasio? Postremum si dicatur, non abhorret à modo dictis. Reliqua verò Capita quod attinet, infinitus penè est eorum numerus qui se Vitrum, Butyrum, Canem, Felem, Regem, Imperatorem, Pa­pam, Paracletum▪ Messiam, ultimum maximúmque Prophetam, vivorum & mortuorum Judicem, aut de­nique Deum ipsum haud leviori fundamento, pertina­citer asseverârunt. Quorum plerosque praeter modum gaudio perfusos, & Divino (ut videbatur) fervore ac­censos legimus. Quae tamen omnia (tam longè abe­rant ab afflatu Divini Spiritûs) Maniae erant & Me­lancholiae [Page 10] symptomata: neque originem suam debebant nobiliori principio, quam sanguini & spiritibus tur­batis, & quae prae caeteris Numen aliquod ostentare vi­detur, atrae bili. Ea quippe, ut nos docet Aristoteles, [...] efficit [...]

Quamobrem haud satis à nobis cautum fuerit, si subi­tam nimis fidem adhibeamus persuasioni obfirmatae, aut validae imaginationi, sive exultationi sive zelo ad­mistae; praecipuè verò quando sensus noster internus adeò sit Errori obnoxius, aliarum facultatum suffragia priùs petenda, quibus renuentibus, saltem [...] opor­tet & sustinere ab assensu. Verùm ne quid derogare videar spiritui sancto, opportunè hîc loci monendum censeo, quàm nulli sumus, quàm nihil possumus ejus ope destituti, adeò ut nemo quisquam sit, qui solis na­turae viribus semet ad Christum recipit, nisi superveniat Divini Auxilii gratia. Quod ut abundè testatum facit S. Scriptura, ita neque minus suffragatur Ratio. Illud utique certissimum est effatum, contra sensum & expe­rientiam frustra argumentis contendi. Etiamsi igitur quispiam (quod de Zenone fertur) non dari motum probare conetur, aut quantitatem, materiam, tempus extra rerum naturam subtili disputatione eliminare sategerit, nunquam tamen e [...]ecerit, ut quisquam, ocu­lis manibúsque omnem prorsus fidem deroget. Eodem igitur jure cùm expertum unicuique sit sensus suos gratâ admodum voluptate ab externis hujusce mundi objectis perfundi, neque tamen rebus altioris & nobi­lioris Naturae perinde affici: quantumcunque severio­ris Rationis monitis renitatur, animúmque ab istis tanquam infra suam dignitatem positis conetur revo­care; nihilo tamen magis illum inde dimovebit, quam Diogenem Zenonis argumenta. Quinetiam quamdiu validus ille vegetúsque externarum voluptatum gustus [Page 11] animum abduxerit, non vacat susurranti intus monitori aures adhibere: vel forte os illi nullo negotio obtu­rare dabitur, aut in suas partes pellicere; sensu nempe sive externo sive interno ducimur, non inerti & insi­pida ratione, quae de spiritualis vitae deliciis perinde scit disserere, ac caecus de coloribus. Et sanè operam omninò lusurus est, qui id agit ut caecum instruat, quàm jucunda res sit solem intueri, & lucis usuram capere, & variegatis inde objectis oblectari: solus oculus hisce demonstrandis ita par est, ut Animus inde afficiatur. Nunquam omnigenae voluptatis manci­pium eó perduxeris, ut in Mathematicae demonstra­tionis ratione intelligendâ, majus aliquod oblectamen­tum subesse existimet, quam Bacchi aut Veneris ludo. Nempe si animi sui sententiam palam facere non de­trectarent, compertum facile esset totius humani Gene­ris Rationem, instantis sensus Imperio subesse. Adeó (que) nisi Deus ita Animos nostros affecerit, ut amaritudinem quandam in terrenis hisce voluptatibus persentiscamus, & rerum coelestium dulcedinem praelibemus, fieri non potest, ut vel ab istis ablactemur, vel haec admodum appetamus. Addo insuper, morigeros nosmet prae­buisse voluntati Patris nostri qui est in Coelis, sola via est facilis & aperta, quae in Divinarum Revelationum veritatum, sensúmque deducat.

Quippe res coelestes haud aliter cognoscuntur, quàm gustu interno & [...]apido lumine; quale impertire solet Divina Gratia humilibus & defaecatis animis. Quin & de viâ flectentes monere, lumina menti praeferre, fi­dem corroborare, efficere ut Argumenta Pietatis aliàs ad quemlibet levissimae tentationis ventum difflanda, penitus impressa fixáque animo maneant, haec & si­milia accepta serimus eidem Sancto Spiritui. Quae omnia nobis coelitus illabi facilè agnoscimus, utpote [Page 12] divino isti Principio quod Dei in nobis reliquum est consentanea. Sed si quando huic veritatis Criterio nuncium remittimus, & Rationem nostram praepoten­tis phantasiae ductui & imperio subjicimus, valeat opor­tet omnis Religio nisi quae sub specie Divini afflatûs ab atra bile & faeculentis sanguinis halitibus inspiretur. Adeóque perinde nobis erit quaevis Religio: Rationis utique Judicio abdicato, quo Argumento innotescet Religionis Christianae supra Mahumetismum aut Gen­tilismum praestantia? Sed ne verborum ambiguitate laboremus, sciendum est nihil à nobis percipi prae­terquam Mentis nostrae Operationes; proinde Spiri­tum prout est in nobis Principium cognoscendi, aut esse sensum internum aut rationem: Hae enim (nisi addere etiam libet instinctum naturalem) solae sunt Facultates, quae luminis Divini radiis collustrari pos­sunt; Ut revertamur igitur unde sumus digressi, cum sensus noster internus adeò lubricus sit & fallax, qui Testimonio ejus auscultaverit, reclamantibus licet reli­quis facultatibus, nae ille homo est fide nimis incautâ & temerariâ.

At inquies, concedamus probari quidem hoc Argu­mento, nihil posse credi sine Ratione; hinc tamen non constare rem ipsam credendam non posse rationi adver­sari; quoniam Deo testanti adhibenda est fides, quam­vis maximè sit rationi contrarium quod credendum proponitur: quia fieri potest ut intellectus humanus cùm maximè videtur ratione uti, hallucinetur. Sed nefas est suspicari Deum sapientissimum posse falli; aut veracissimus cùm sit, velle fallere.

Equidem nihil potuisset dici verius; Deo enim testanti nemo est tam incredulus, aut sui plenus, quin fidem habeat: At illud in dubium vocatur, quomodo rem divino testimonio confirmatam dignoscamus? [Page 13] Num ex solis miraculis? at iis inclaruisse comperies Pythagoram, Apollonium Tyanoeum qui Magicâ suâ labantem Idololatriam erexit; quem ausi sunt sui tem­poris homines Christo opponere, uti constat ex Hie­roclis & Philostrati libris in hunc finem compositis. Magos utriusque Orbis in medium proferre possim, qui omnes quamplurima operati sunt Naturae vi­res excedentia, non aliâ tamen quam Daemonum Virtute.

Si quis itaque Divinam legationem obtenderit, tria sunt quibus Authoritatem ejus probari oportet; Mi­racula, Vitae Sanctitas, & Doctrina Deo digna, hu­mano generi utilis & accommodata. Quae omnia si affuerint, credendus est à Deo missus. Nulla utique via jam reliqua est, quâ fallacia detegatur. At nulla­tenus consonum videtur divinae veracitati & bonitati testimonium ferre mendacio, aut hominem in rebus maximi momenti deceptioni exponere nullâ diligentiâ evitandae. Itaque non solummodo spectanda sunt miracula, sed & vita, doctrináque hominis cui fidem facere videntur. Proinde Servator noster validissimo usus est Argumento adversus Pharisaeos objicientes, eum Daemonia ejicere virtute Principis Daemonum: Quod scilicet Regnum internis dissidiis distractum stabiliri nequit; cum ita (que) ipse Doctrinâ & operibus suis se regno Satanae opponeret, fieri non potuit ut Satanae Virtute Daemonia ejiceret. Ita (que) ut judicium feramus de Divino Testimonio, Res ipsa consideranda venit quam attestatur; quae si quid habeat immotis Naturae Principiis adversum, miracula haec praestigiae Daemo­num, non Dei opus credendasunt. Beroeenses laudati sunt à Spiritu Sancto, [...], tan­quam magis ingenui & liberalioris indolis, quia inqui­rebant in Pauli & Siloe verba, num quae ab ipsis dicta [Page 14] sunt ita se haberent. Quidni & nos eadem Commen­datio pertingat, si à quocunque dictata, tanquam le­gem divinitùs acceptam, severissimo examini subji­ciamus?

3. Tertium Argumentum haurimus è Naturâ Re­ligionis, quam convenit esse materiam Electionis & Oblectamenti. At fieri non potest ut quis semet ob­lectet in eo quod Naturae suae Principiis contradicit. Revera Conclusiones novisse, etsi nihil contineant ra­tioni dissonum, nisi porrò sciamus è quibus fluant Principiis, parum gratum est intellectui nostro. Sic Mathematico Ingenio volupe est, non Geometriae problemata, tanquam certissimae Veritatis efsata me­moriter tenere, sed eorum demonstrationes longâ Propositionum serie deductas comprehendisse animo. Maximè itaque divinae Bonitati consonum videtur, eousque homini in Evangelio indulfisse, ut eorum cum Ratione Harmoniam comperire possit, quae [...]i credenda proponuntur. In eo praecipuê differt genus humanum à brutis, quod sit Religionis capax. At verò quod maximè homini proprium est & naturale, ut sit facultatibus ejus adversum, omni à Ratione ab­horret. Num cui in mentem venire potest Deum in animo habuisse intellectum humanum non-percipien­dis impedire atque implicare subtilitatibus? Num quid ideò excellentius quia omnem excedit intelli­gentiam? Illéne putandus est Religionis capacissimus, qui aut superstitiosus maximè aut oscitanter credulus? Num exuenda est natura humana, ut imbuamur Re­ligione? Certè insedisse animo vel leviculam hujus­modi suspicionem, Religionis ludibrium est & oppro­brium. Ea esse debet uniuscujusque de Religione suâ existimatio, quod nihil absurdi, indecori, aut rectae Rationi repugnantis continere credatur: Quantum [Page 15] enim redit in Religionis dedecus, metuere sibi à Ra­tionis Tribunali? Ea mihi semper Religio ample­ctenda visa est, quae à severissimâ Ratione in judi­cium vocata, causam obtineat. Quorsum Benignissi­mus Deus largitus est nobis Rationis facultatem, si nefas sit, cùm res nostra maximè agitur, eam mu­nere suo fungi? Aut quaenam alia facultas reliqua est cujus ductu veram Religionem investigemus? Si Ra­tionis partes deseramus, annon educationi, superstitioni, aut afflatui cuidam Fanatico, omnis accepta ferenda erit Religio?

At Ratio nostra, inquies, ex quo à Deo defecimus, caligat nimium, ideó (que) pares non sumus de rebus Di­vinis judicium ferendo.

Ergóne luce Meridia [...] destituti, languidiores solis radii contemptui erunt, & tenebrae reputandae? Num cui paulò obtusior est acies, omni prorsus lumine cassus censebitur? Aut oculi claudendi penitus, quia Aquila­rum carent perspicacitate? Verùm annon Religio eâ est naturâ quae summam postulet diligentiam & curam, utpote quae res sit maximi momenti, in cujus disquisi­tione errasse summum est infortunium? Et quem in finem datae sunt Facultates, si nulli esse possunt adju­mento, cùm iis maximè est opus? Num quis alius nostro loco judicium feret? Num alterius intellectus meam diriget voluntatem? Num alienis oculis vide­bo? Aut alterius cujuspiam lumine praeeunte ambu­labo? Num affectus inordinatos argumentis non in­tellectis edomabo? Num ad normam Principiorum, quae alius mente concepit, vitam meam disponam? Annon proprio judicio, intellectu, lumine, haec omnia peragenda sunt? Num verò hoc fieri potest sine usu Rationis? Quin potius eccujus Facultatis usus est in delectu Religionis & Principiorum ad quorum [Page 16] exemplar vitam instituendam esse judicamus, praeter­quam solius Rationis? Religio res est liberae & inge­nuae indolis, nemini vim inferre patitur, intellectum solâ formâ & pulchritudine suâ captivat. Qui secus senserit, falsò ei crimen impegit, & in Religionis lo­cum Superstitionem suffecit.

4. Quartum Argumentum desumo ex Naturâ Rectae Rationis; Unde firmissimè demonstratur fieri non posse, ut quid à Deo revelatum sit ei contrarium. Delibati enim sunt hominum Animi ex mente Divinâ; Estque Recta Ratio coelesti stirpe oriunda, ad increatae sapientiae & intelligentiae imaginem efficta: Est Ra­dius quidam Intellectualis solis, lucis primigeniae si­militudinem referens. Divina enim sapientia nihil aliud est, quam Idearum rerum Comprehensio, unà cum earum rationibus, affectionibus, mutuisque re­lationibus, sive concordiae sive repugnantiae, quae à rerum ipsarum naturâ immediatè emanant, sicut Re­lationes posito Fundamento & Termino. Atque hasce affectiones unà cum ipsarummet rerum Ideis, eodem intuitu perlustrat Divinus Intellectus, earúmque ordi­nem & reciprocationes discernit. Atque hoc quid aliud est quam Ratio fixa & stabilis, rerum omnium rationes nexúsque immoto oculo simul advertens? Hujus verò accurata effigies est Recta Ratio, menti humanae insita; quae etsi res omnes earúmque Ra­tiones unico actu retegere & nôsse nequeat, eos tamen successione & per vices evolvit. Harum verò Idearum & Rationum quotquot simul intuemur, clarè & distinctè percipimus sive consensum sive dissonan­tiam, atque ita unius ex altero sive probationem sive refutationem instituimus. Proinde Ratio Humana verè imitatur atque exprimit sapientiam Divinam; hoc solo Discrimine, quòd quae illa eodem simplici [Page 17] actu simul comprehendit, ista operosis deducit con­sequentiis. Deum itaque quicquam revelare Rectae Rationi contrarium▪ perinde cogitatu impium est, ac Deum mendacem fore, internis (que) sapientiae [...] concep­tibus contradicturum. Recta enim Ratio & Divina Sa­pientia idem ferunt de Rebus Judicium; & si quid secus pronuncietur ab intellectu humano, non id fit Rationis culpâ sed Ignorantiae. Ideoque si quid sub specie Divinae Revelationis propositum videtur Ratio­ni contradicere, suspicandum est me non satis capere mentem ejus, ideóque ulteriori indagini insistendum, idque credendum Deum intendisse quod Naturae Prin­cipiis maxime consonum videbitur. Nollem tamen Intellectum Humanum nimium sibimet arrogare, & quod Captum ejus excedit, audaci facinore continuò damnare. Quippe si potissima pars eorum quae Di­vino Testimonio tradita & consignata sunt, Deo sint digna, & facultatibus nostris consentanea, quoad re­liqua Fidem implicitam adhibere fas est Divinae Reve­lationi, iisque, etsi à Ratione abhorrere videantur, ni­hilominus assensum praebere; saltem juxta sententiam Spiritûs Sancti, etsi quae tandem illa sit, haud dum satis capiamus.

5. Quintum atque ultimum Argumentum à Naturâ ipsius Christianae Religionis depromendum duximus. Et primò quoad ejus praecepta, eorum Puritas, Sancti­tas; & tum privata, tum publica, commoditas cuilibet attentiùs consideranti tam facilè comprobatur, ut opus superfluum aggressurum me sentirem, si eorum cum Ratione concordiam evincendo tempus contererem. Praesertim cùm id jam abundè satis demonstratum sit à Doctissimo nostro Hammondo, quem hâc de re con­sulatis velim. Hinc verò necessariò sequitur Promissa & Comminationes esse etiam oppidò rationi consona; [Page 18] utpote quae hisce praeceptis muniendis inserviant. Sed quoad haec tria Religionis Christianae membra, etsi longè praecellant, tamen non planè diversa sunt ab aliis quae olim obtinuerint Religionibus, praesertim istâ Sapientum & Doctorum apud Paganos Philosopho­rum; qui praecepta moralia severa & sublimia admo­dum tradebant, & praemiorum & poenarum post hanc vitam fidem ostentabant. Adeò ut quicquid dici po­test in Priscae Pietatis & Sapientiae patrocinium, po­tiori jure vindicaverit sibi Religio Christiana. Lecta enim S. Scriptura ab ingeniis maximè profanis, & Atheis, con [...]essionem expressit, praestantissima in eâ continere Virtutis & Pietatis praecepta.

Ideóque potius breviter disserendum ce [...]eo de Chri­stianismo sub ratione Religionis determinatae & ab aliis discrepantis, ut hâc etiam in parte compareat ejus cum Rectâ Ratione conformitas.

Primò verò, quid cogitari potest magis rationi ac­commodum, quam quod Deus alicui Provinciam dele­garet docendi atque instruendi Genus humanum in suo erga Deum atque invicem Munere fungendo? Dege­neres enim Adami Posteri valde ignari sunt officii sui, (unde per omnia secula notantur ridiculi Superstitionis ritus) ac proinde indigent Doctore; atque etiam pervicaciter & obstinatè dediti sunt carnis Cupidita­tibus, adeóque ejusmodi postulant Legislatorem, qui Venerationem & Timorem incutiat. Utque Legi [...]ator jam dictus sit illibatae atque innocuae Vitae, ita enim & nobis exemplo est, & Doctrinae suae Authoritatem conciliat: Ut fine semine virili Divini Spiritûs Poten­tiâ in Utero Virginis formetur, [...] enim à faece hu­manâ, & ordinario Naturae Cursu segregatus, in ma­jori honore habebitur: Ut intimè Uniatur Naturae Divinae, sive [...], atque ita verè & propriè Deus [Page 19] fiat; sic enim maxima comparatur dictis Majestas. Nec fieri potest ut▪ Deus viâ Naturae Humanae conve­nientiori voluntatem suam significet; Nequit enim nobis comparere sine corporeo velamine: Et quodnam aptius domicilium quam caro nostra? Quidni itaque Deus uteretur aliquo è nobis, uti Anima Corpore, tan­quam Instrumento, quo interveniente consilium suum declaret? Nihil hic habetur aut Rationi contrarium aut conceptu difficile.. Cur enim magis vexaret In­tellectum conjunctio Deitatis cum Naturâ Christi, quàm Humanae Animae cum Corpore? Quo enim superioris est Naturae, eò faciliùs semet insinuare po­tuit. Caeterùm quamvis Persona haec tam illustris sit, congruum tamen videtur [...]ore, eum quoad Vitam Ex­ternam humilis sortis, & conditionis obscurae, iisdem malis & infirmitatibus, quibus nosmet ipsi, expositum. Sic enim magis provocamur ad Dei Amorem, & gra­vissima mala patienter ferenda, salutis nostrae duce innocentissimo nostri gratiâ tam multa passo. Adde quod Argumentum sit summae in hoc Servatore fidu­ciae; Ipse enim pressionibus absolutus, novit quomodo subveniat afflictis. Porrò jure postulamus certiores nos faciat vitae aeternae & immortalis; in dubiâ enim hac de re opinione haerebant Ethnici; quin & Resurrectio­nis Corporis sine quâ non consistit summa hominis felicitas. Et quàm promptus sit Deus ad ignoscendum peccatoribus credentibus & agentibus Poen [...]tentiam: Hoc enim facilè in dubium vocamus dum advertimus Peccati Malignitatem, & quàm rarescit apud homines offensae remissio, & quam proni ipsi simus in vindictam. Similiter ut fidem stabiliat Praemiorum & Poenarum post hanc Vitam; ut illa respicientes alliciamur ad obedientiam, ab istis verò metuentes deterreamur à peccato. Utque his omnibus fidem faceret tum mira­culis, [Page 20] tum morte suâ; Miracula enim maximum sunt Divinae praesentiae testimonium: Quod verò Seipsum morti tradiderit, indicio est sincerè & sine fuco no­biscum egisse. Praeterea evidentissima Demonstratio est Divinae erga nos bonitatis, qui unigenito suo filio non pepercit, ut nostro bono inserviret. Et validissi­mum Argumentum ad crucifigendum Carnis Cupidi­tates, & ad subeundam mortem pro fratribus & alio­rum commodo. Porrò quod hâc morte suâ Sacrifi­cium fiat ob Peccata, quo Deus se placatum agnoscit, consilium erat infinitae Sapientiae & Bonitatis quo Animae argumenta Diffidentiae à Sanctitate & Justi­tiâ Divinâ petenti opportunè succurritur, Justitiam Divinam Christi Morte abundè propitiante. Itidem Resurrectio ejus ex Mortuis admodum Rationi con­sentit; Omnium enim prius actorum Certitudinem consignavit; & nostrae Resurrectionis & vitae post mortem possibilitatem demonstravit. Quod verò su­scitatus ad Dextram Dei sedeat, & omnes Preces & Gratiarum Actiones per ipsius interventum offerendae Deo sint, & semper apud Deum Causam nostram agat, hoc quoque Rationi consonat; dum nimirum Deus non solum benevolum erga nos animum notum fecit, sed etiam Fratrem nostrum ipsimet charissimum, nobis amicissimum, ad Dextram suam posuit, per quem ala­criter & cum fiduciâ ad Deum accedamus; Christo interea nostrî gratiâ Deum deprecante, ut quicquid nobis contingit boni, primam suam Originem purè Deitatis Amori debere agnoscamus. Deinde quòd omnis Potestas tum in Terris tum etiam in Coelis illi commissa & credita sit, quódque sit Dei quasi Vicarius, Sanctorúmque & Angelorum Caput, maximè hoc ce­dit in nostrum solatium, quod qui nos tantopere amet, potestate tantâ potiatur. Praeterea cùm citra Contro­versiam [Page 21] [...]it esse quandam Politiam & Regimen apud ipsos beatos sanctos & Angelos, cui potius debetur Principatus, quàm Jesu Christo, qui Deus ipse est Hu­manâ Naturâ Vestitus? Quod verò aliquando Daemo­nes at (que) homines vocandi [...]int ad tremendum Dei Tri­bunal, apprimè convenit; hujus enim Cogitatio timo­rem incutiet audacissimo Peccatori, & Judicii solenni­tas Deum vindicabit ab omni Malignitatis crimine, adeò ut suâ se culpâ & stultitiâ in miseriam lapsum ab unuiscujus (que) Confcientiâ confessionem extorserit. Quod verò Christus Judex sedeat, nihil [...]ingi potuisset accom­modatius; Nam cum Deus Verendum hoc Judicium ex­ercere nequeat nisi sub specie visibili, quodnam huic In­stituto aptius Instrumentum esse potuit quàm ea huma­na Natura in quâ jamdudum Domicilium suum collo­caverat? Deni (que) quod omnibus inimicis subjugatis, Regnum Patri traderet, ne (que) hoc à Ratione abhorret; Nam cùm Integrum ejus Munus Mediatorium huic fini destinatum sit, ut Creaturae in peccatum lapsae ad Deum revocentur, & supremâ donentur felicitate; hu­jus sanè operis Absolutionem sequi debet Regni sui Determinatio. Quae tamen non ita intelligenda est, quin Jesus Christus [...] abinde semper Sancto­rum atque Angelorum Princeps, & Caput permansu­rus sit. At (que) ita singula fere Religionis Christianae Capita breviter perlustravimus; ne (que) iis diutius immorari per vestram patientiam licebit.

Quod reliquum est Verbo expediam. Ex dictis li­quidò constare arbitror, quam indecorum sit & ho­mine Christiano indignum Religionem suam haurire simul cum Materno lacte, eám (que) non ingenuae Ratio­nis Disquisitioni, sed Patriae institutis, Educationi, Magistrorum Dictatis, & hujus [...]arinae Praejudiciis ac­ceptam ferre: Adeó (que) non in veri falsi (que) delectu, sed [Page 22] praeconceptâ Opinione pertinaciter tuendâ omnes ani­mi vires nervós (que) intendere. Ea quippe haud fides dicen­da est aut putanda D [...]o grata, quae Originem suam debet inerti potius Casui, quàm Rei ipsius Evidentiae aut Argumentorum momentis; quinimò post humi­lem, piam, attentamque rerum pensitationem, in er­rorem lapsus, potiori Jure censendus est, si non laude, saltem Excusatione dignus, quàm ipsi vel etiam Veri­tati caecus istiusmodi & fortuitus assensus. Ne (que) se­cus edisserit Sacra Pagina dum jubemur [...] De­ni (que) (ut hortatur Apostolus noster) parati simus ad re­spondendum cuilibet, ejus spei, quae in nobis est, Ra­tionem petenti.

FINIS.
1 PET. III. 15.‘—Be ready always to give an an­swer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.

IAm not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, said the Great Apostle who was bred up at the feet of Gamaliel, and fully instructed in all the Learning both of the Jews and Greeks. Wherefore when the Christian Religion was every where oppres­sed and despised, when it was a scandal to the Jews, and foolishness to the Greeks; yet then despising the shame, and undervaluing the Afflictions he should meet withal, I am ready (says he) to preach the Gospel to you that are at Rome, among the famous Philosophers and Orators of that City, renowned as well for Arts as Arms. For although there are not wanting some, the Eyes of whose Minds are covered with gross Ignorance and Darkness, yet glorying mightily in the mean while of their own Wisdom who endeavour to expose and ridi­cule the Doctrine of the Gospel as the greatest Piece of Folly; nevertheless he that laying aside his Prejudices and Tumultuous Affections, shall weigh the thing it self▪ in the Balance of a sincere and incorrupted Judgment, [Page 24] will really find the Christian Religion to be the Power and Wisdom of God, wholly agreeable to Reason and worthy of all belief.

As therefore the Great Doctor of the Gentiles has given us a rare Example of our Duty; so the Apostle of the Circumcision in the Words now read, exhorts us, Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, i. e. Be prepared to render an Account, why you are Christians. And in this sense the word [...] often occurs in the Acts of the Apostles, and in the Epistles of St. Paul, Act. 22. 1. Phil. 1. 7. & 17. 2 Tim. 4. 16. By [hope] I understand the Doctrine of the Gospel, in which sense the word is used, Act. 26. 7.

That Reason is to be made use of in the matter of Re­ligion.
That the Christian Religion i [...] so framed that a [...]a­tional Account may be given of it.
That every Man professing Christianity ought to be ready to give a Reason of his Faith.

These are the main Observables from this Text of Scripture. That in the choice of Religion, Reason is not to be laid aside, and, That the Christian Religion is such as contains in it nothing contrary to Right Reason, I shall undertake to make good in this present Discourse against Enthu [...]asts and Deists.

By [Rea [...]on] I do not mean the Dictates of Pride, Covetousness, Lust, Anger or any other naughty Af­fection; for this is that Wisdom of the Flesh which is enmity against God, as well as against Right Rea [...]on;Rom. 8. 7. these are those [...] imaginations that are to be cast down, and this is that [...] that thought which is to [Page 25] be brought into Captivity to the Obedience of Christ, 2 Cor. 10. 4, 5. namely those Reasonings and Discourses which Mini­ster to the Flesh and the lusts thereof. This is that [...], Natural Man, who receives not the 1 Cor. 2. 14. things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are Spiritually discerned: For this is that Animal Man which is guided only by his sensual Appetite; and [...] (as those know well enough who are conversant in the Writings of the Ancients) signifies that Faculty of the Soul which is adapted to the Body. And he that is such cannot be subject to the Spirit of God, nor Obedient to the Gospel, forasmuch as the things contained there, are mere foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned, i. e. they are dis­cerned by an humble Mind, composed Affections, clear Light, and Pure, and Internal sense.

This is that Wisdom pu [...]ed up with Pride and Vain­glory,1 Cor. 1. 18. unto which the preaching of the Cross is foolish­ [...]ess. For the ob [...]ure life and ignominious Death of Christ was always counted ridiculous by a Mind turgid, & swell'd with higher Notions and conceits. Lastly, this is that Wisdom of this World, and of the Princes of this World, who are intoxicated with vile Affections, and an1 Cor. 1. 20. & 2. 6. Opinionative Knowledge, which God and every wise Man looks upon as foolishness. Such Wisdom and Ra­tiocinations as these, are not the Off-spring of true Rea­son, but the Fallacies and Paralogisms of a Mind blinded with lusts.

By Right Reason therefore I understand that innate Faculty of the Soul of Man, by which it discerns the Reasons and Mutual Affections of things, and argues, and concludes one thing from another, And now I say that Christian Religion is not contrary to Reason thus understood.

[Page 26]There are two usual Forms of Speech pertinent to this occasion, viz. that something may either be above or contrary to Reason.

But that we may speak freely and according to the nature of the thing it self; whatever is propounded to us as matter of belief ought not to be so much as above Reason, unless these words be taken in this Acception, namely, That a thing is so high and remote from com­mon sense, that bare [...]ntellect could not light upon it. There are verily some Articles of Faith which may be said to be above Reason, as to some Modes of the Thing to be believed that are not clearly revealed. Thus for Example, it exceeds the strength of Reason to give an exact Account of the manner of our Resurrection & Glorification, or to make a perfect Description of the Joys and Pleasures of the Future life, or to shew how the three Hypostases are one God, or the Divine and Humane Nature one Christ: But of these things as there is no express Revelation, so neither is there an Explicit Faith required; And besides, This Obscurity is not a l [...]ttle subservient for the begetting and concilia­ting Reverence and Esteem to the Christian Doctrine.

But there is nothing to which an Explicit Faith is required, which so far exceeds Reason, as that it is not able to form any Conception of it. For Faith consists in Assent; the Assent follows the Judgment, but no Judg­ment can be made of a thing that is not at all known or understood; therefore whatever exceeds all Knowledge, must needs likewise exceed all Belief. And he that can per­suade himself that he believes a thing that he does not understand, believes he knows not what; and misera­bly imposes upon himself with a company of words prettily put together, and giving a great sound, which yet have no Conception answering to them in the mind, [Page 27] and while he dreams of believing some unintelligible Mystery, he only pursues mere shadows of words from which when the veil is withdrawn, all Faith and Sense presently vanishes.

But that the Christian Religion contains nothing Repugnant to right Reason, and that the use of Reason is necessary in the Affair of Religion, I shall endea­vour to prove by these following Arguments.

First, If God should propound any thing to be be­lieved that were Contradictory to Right Reason, one of these four Absurdities (nor can I think of a fifth) will ne­cessarily follow upon it; Either that God can be deceived, or may deceive, or that the Reasons▪ and Affections of things are not Eternal and Immutable; Or lastly, that our Faculties are obnoxious to Error when they have the clear­est and most distinct Perception of their proper Objects. The first and second of these are contrary to that Notion and Idea of God which we have implanted in our Minds.

As for the third, there is indeed a certain Person who asserts the Reasons of things to be contingent and Ar­bitrarious, and that Blasphemy, Lying, Perjury, nay, a hatred of the Divine Majesty may be reckoned into the Account of Virtues, and become a Worship plea­sing and acceptable to God. But good God! What rash and abominable Positions do we hear! Such as are rather to be buried in Eternal Oblivion, or not to be named without Horror and Astonishment. Search the Ancient Councils, and you shall find no Heresie more deserving an Anathema then this. Nay the very Jaws of Hell could not belch out any thing more detestable and blasphemous. For this robs God of his Wisdom, Im­mutability, Goodness, and all those other Perfections we attribute to him: It overthrows the Principles and Foundations of all▪ Discourse; makes Contradictions [Page 28] become probable; destroys all Trust and Confidence in the Divine Promises, and banishes all Hope and Expectation of Future Happiness. That all these Con­sequences do naturally flow from this Principle we have proved elsewhere, and the same will appear very evi­dent to any that shall attentively consider it.

The Fourth, That God should plant such Faculties in us as may then deceive us when they most clearly and distinctly perceive their Respective Objects, is con­trary to the Divine Goodness and Veracity. Moreover, it is impossible that God should reveal any thing as an Object of Faith, unless we first suppose, that we must give credit to our own Faculties. For nothing can be delivered to us from God, unless it be conformable to some Faculty or other: But and if that Faculty may be deceived when it most clearly and distinctly per [...]eives its Object, how are we assured that this Deception may not happen in the present Case, especially wh [...]n Reason, the chiefest of our Facultys, clearly and evi­dently finds that to be false which is offered under the specious Pretext of Divine Revelation? For this Reve­lation must be conveyed to us either by the [...]ar, or some other External sense, or else by the [...]: But ought we not much rather to [...] that to be an Illusion which is con [...]rary to the Prin­ciples of Evident and sound Reason, then to [...]ancy that our Reason which is given us of God for a Guide, should be deceived in its clearest and most distinct con­ception of things? For if we throw a way Reason, there is no other Directive Faculty, but External sense and its Inclinations, and blind, and uncertain Phansie which is obnoxious to innumerable Deceptions. Where­fore bidding adieu to Reason do we not evidently ex­pose our selves to the Illusion of every Jugling Spirit, [Page 29] who by crafty Tricks shall counterfeit a Divine Power and Assistance? If therefore Moses ordain'd his Law as a Touch­stone to try the Truth of a Prophet, advising his People not to hearken to any who should do Signs and Mira­cles, if he taught a [...]y thing contrary to that Law which he himself had delivered to them from God: Ought not we in like manner to examine all those that pretend Divine Authority, by the Law of Nature and Right Reason, as by an in [...]allible and unerring Rule? (By the way it is to be noted, that I here speak of incorrupted Reason, freed from all evil Affections and inlightned by the Spirit of God.) For without the help of this Guide, our Minds perhaps may be filled with a Great Measure of Confidence and Obstinate Persuasion, but can never attain any settled Assurance that they are in the right way. Neither is it any thing to the Purpose, to say that Reason may indeed judge of Humane, but not of Divine Things. For though this be true of Reason darkned with evil Passions, and indubitable in such things as are rather Objects of Taste, and Internal sense, than Reason, yet it is quite otherwise where the Assent of the Understanding alone is required. For whatever is proposed as matter of Explicit Belief, there must in the first place be a Conception formed of it; but now whatever we can frame a Conception of, there Reason either discovers the Harmony of the Terms of which it consists, and its Agreement with some common Notion, and so pronounces the Thing to be true; or e [...]se it finds the Terms to be contradictory and Repugnant, and that the Thing is Diametrically op­posite to some i [...]ate Principle, and consequently judges it to be false: Or else it perceives the Terms to be partly agreeing and partly di [...]onant, or to have no Relation at all to one another, and from hence affirms [Page 30] and allows the Thing to be either Probable or Possible. And now if any Part either of the Probability or Po [...] ­bility shall be confirmed by some Illustrious Miracle, then Reason adds its Suffrage that it ought to be be­lieved. As for Example; let us imagine, what is al­ready done, a certain Person compassing Sea and Land, and w [...]olly intent upon this very Thing to teach and instruct Mankind in their Duty to God, and to one another, promising Eternal Blessedness upon Condition of Obedience, he himself in the mean time leading a most innocent and inoffensive life, and withal declaring himself to be a Law-giver sent from God, and to have all Power both in Heaven and Earth committed into his hands, and that Prayers and Praises are all to be offer­ed to God through his Mediation: Here is nothing in this that implies a Contradic [...]on, or is repugnant with the Principles of Nature, though Reason may be apt to suspect some Pride and Affectation of Divine Glory and Worship to lie underneath. But now when that which is barely looked upon as Possible shall be effected and accomplished by Divine Power, and the Author of this Doctrine inabled to work such stupendious Miracles as never Man before saw, Reason will presently conclude that the Thing it self is very credible. Yet not withstan­ding if this Per [...]on should have taught any thing contra­ry to the Dictates of Right Reason and introduced either a Pro [...]ane and im [...]ious Doctrine, or countenanced a licentious, and disorderly way of living, and that he might the better persuade us to these things, should have gone about to confirm his Divine Mission by Mi­racles, our Reason would immediately have suggested, to us that he was an Impostor and Deceiver; because no­thing can be [...] by God, or by any Person com­missionated by him, which is contrary to the Law of Nature or Right Reason.

[Page 31]And though it may be urged, that it is contrary to the Divine Veracity to bear Witness to a lie, and therefore whatever is grounded upon the Credit of Mi­racles (since these are the only visible signs of the Divine will) must of necessity be supposed to derive from God; yet because I cannot be assured whether these things may not be permitted for a Tryal, or for some other end unknown to me, yet agree [...]ble to Divine Wisdom, I should rather d [...]strust this way of Reasoning, then admit any thing from the Authority of this Argument as Divine, which contradicted the clear Principles of Nature.

2. A Second Argument: The Nature of Man is so fra­med that it cannot yield Assent to any thing without the Conduct of Reason. Which that it may more clearly appear we shall borrow some few things hugely suitable to our present Purpose from the Famous Lord Herbert in his Book of Truth.

According to his Opinion therefore there are four Faculties by which we come to the Knowledge of things; Natural Instinct, or that Faculty which di [...] ­cerneth Common Notions, Internal Sense, External Sense, and Discourse.

From whence may be collected this great Truth, more valuable then whole Volumes written concerning the Sou [...] and its Facul [...]es; That which [...] be known, nei­ther by Natural Instinct, Internal Sense, External Sense, nor by Discourse, cannot any way be proved properly true. Now since these are Faculties, and that whatever is propounded to be believed; must necessarily correspond and be conformable to some one of these, Reason affirms that to each of them being rightly d [...]posed, cre [...]t is to be given, viz. to Natural Inst [...]t, to Inte [...]nal and Ex­ [...]nal Sense. Moreover Reason it self (according to its proper Office) making use of the [...] of the [Page 32] aforesaid Faculties, and relying upon first and self-evi­dent Principles, summons Discourse, and deduces Conclusions. Natural Instinct is always to be believed; but sense, as well External as Internal, may sometimes be deceived, and therefore sometimes deserves Credit, and at other times not; to discriminate and discern the Differences of which is in the Power of Reason alone, there being no other Faculty to preside in this Case. From whence it follows: First, That the Mind can­not assent to any thing where Right Reason, or at least some shadow of it, does not give a preceding light; And then, That Christian Religion requiring Faith, cannot force or compel assent against the Dictates of Right Reason.

But against these Clear and Natural Sentiments the Enthusiasts importunately urge the Spirit, and indeed every man will pretend the Testimony of the Spirit t [...]at he may not seem to be less favour'd of God then others. If we demand how they know the Testimony of the Spirit, they Answer, After the same manner as we dis­cern the splendor of the Sun, by its own proper light. But we insist further; That witness which the Spirit bears to it self, is it a strong and obstinate Persuasion, or an Ecstatical Joy, or a kind of Zeal and Fervor of Mind; or Lastly, a clear and savoury Persuasion of the Dignity and Excellency of those things that are revea­led? If this last, it is very consentaneous and agreeable to what we have already spoken: But as for the other particulars, it is very well known what an Innumera­ble company of Men there have been, who upon such like grounds have very pertinaciously affirmed them­selves to be compounded o [...] Glass, or Butter, to be Dogs, Cats, Kings, Emperors, Popes, the Paraclete, the Messiah, the last and greatest Prophet, the Judge [Page 33] of Qu [...]ck and Dead, nay, even God himself. And we find most of these to have been actuated with an Excess of Joy, and transported with a seemingly Di­vine Fervor. All which Effects are so far from the In­spiration of the Holy Spirit, that they are no better then Frenzies and Symptoms of Melancholy, and de­rive their Original from no higher Principle then the undue Fermentation of the Blood and Spirits, and chiefly from that Melancholy which above all other disposes the Minds of Men to fancy Divine Influxes and Illuminations For this (as Aristotle affirms) is wont to produce [...]

Wherefore to be too easie and credulous in believing an obstinate Persuasion or strong Imagination, whether there be a mixture of exultancy or zeal with it, would argue a great want of Caution and Circumspection: But we are to note especially, where our Internal Sense is so obnoxious to Error, That the Suffrages of other Faculties are first to be obtained, upon whose refusal it behooves us at least to suspend our Assent.

But that we may not seem to derogate from the Ho­ly Spirit, we may [...]itly here suggest what mere No­things we are, and how little it is we can do without his help, so that there is no Man whatever that can come to Christ without the supervenient Assistance of Divine Grace. And as this is clearly attested in the Sacred Scripture, so it is no less Consentaneous to Rea­son; forasmuch as this is a most certain Truth, that 'tis a great Vanity to dispute against Sense and Experi­ence. And though some one (as 'tis reported of Zeno) should go about to prove there is no such thing as Mo­tion, and should endeavour by subtilty of Argumenta­tion to banish Quantity, Matter and Time out of the Nature of Things, yet he could never induce any sober [Page 34] Person wholly to distrust his Eyes and Hands. By the same Reason, since every Man finds his Senses highly gratified with that Pleasure flowing from External and Mundane Objects, and yet not to be alike affected with things of a higher and nobler Nature; how much resi­stence soever he may make by Virtue of the Counsels of severer Reason, and strive to alienate his Mind from those▪ as things less comporting with the Dignity of his Na­ture, yet he will be no more able to reclaim himself, then the Arguments of Zeno were able to move Dio­genes. Moreover, so long as that brisk and lively rel­lish of sensual Pleasures draws away the Mind, it will not be at leisure to attend to the so [...]t Whispers of that gentle Monitor within. Or perhaps it will easily slop its mouth, or at least allure it to its own side: For we are led by Sense▪ either External or Internal, not by dry and insipid Reason, which gives much what the same Account of the Delights of a Spiritual life, as a blind Man would do of colours. And doubtless it would be but lost labour to teach a blind Man how pleasant a thing it is to behold the Sun, and to enjoy the benefit of the Light, and recreate himself with the Variety of Objects. It is only the Eye that is sufficient to make such a Demonstration of these things as may affect the Mind. You can never persuade a Man that is a per­fect Slave to his Pleasures that there is any greater De­light and Satisfaction in Understanding the Reason of a Mathematical Demonstration▪ then there is in Wine or the Caresses of a Mistress. For if they were not bash­ful in declaring the Sentiments of their own Minds, it would soon appear that the Reason of all Mankind is subjugated to the Imperious Dictates of present sense. And unless God so affect our Minds, as that on the one hand they may find some allay & uneasiness in these Ter­restrial [Page 35] Pleasures, and on the other give them some Prelibations of the sweetness of things Celestial, it can hardly be, that we should either be weaned from those, or very much desirous of these. I add moreover, that to render our selves obedient to the will of our hea [...]enly Father, is the only plain and easie way to the attaining a true Knowledge and Vital Sense of Divine Revela­tions.

For heavenly things are not otherwise to be known but by such an in ward rellish and affecting light as Di­vine Grace usually imparts to defecate & humble Minds. And further, to admonish▪ them that are going astray, to illuminate the Eyes of the Mind, to strengthen the Faith▪ and to fix and impress the Arguments of Godli­ness upon the Soul, which otherwise would be driven away with the least Wind of a Temptation; these and such like things we owe to the Be [...]ign Influence of the Holy Spirit; All which we readily acknowledge to des­cend from Heaven by that Congruity they retain with that Divine Principle the only remain of God in us. But if we discharge this Criterium of Truth, and subject our Reason to the Conduct and Guidance of prevailing Phansis, we must bid adieu to all Religion but that which under pretence of Divine Insp [...]ration is nothing but the Result of [...], and the feculent steams of the Blood. Thus all Religions will be alike; For by▪ what Argument shall the Excellency of Christiani­ty appear above [...] or Gentilism, when the use of Reason is laid aside?

But that we may not spend time in Ambiguity of Words, we must know, T [...]at nothing is perceived by us but the Operations [...] our [...], and there­ [...]re the Spirit as 'tis a Principle of Knowledge in us, is either Internal Sense or Reason; for these are the only [Page 36] Faculties (unless we will add Natural Instinct) capa­ble of being inlightned with the Beams of Divine Light. To return therefore from whence we have di­gressed; since our Internal Sense is so slippery and fal­lacious, that Man that shall hearken to its Testimony against the Voice of all his other Faculties, must be a Person of a very Imprudent and Temerarious Be­lief.

But you will say, We grant indeed that it appears from this Argument that nothing can be believed with­out Reason, but it does not follow fro [...] hence, that the thing to be believed is not contrary to Reason; because we ought to credit a Divine Attestation, though the matter attested be never so much Contrary to Reason: For it may happen that Humane Understanding may thenErr, when it seems most of all to make use of Reason. But it were Impious to imagine that God who is most wise can be deceived, or being most Veracious can de­ceive.

It is confest that nothing could be spoken truer; for no Man is so incredulous or self-conceited, but he will presently give credit to Divine Attestation: But the Question is how we shall know when a thing is confir­med by Divine Testimony? Will it appear from Mi­racles alone? We shall find Pythagoras, Apollonius Tya­noeus, who endeavoured by Magick to keep up the Credi [...] of decaying and sinking Idolatry was famous for these; whose Contemporaries durst oppose him to Christ, as may appear from the Books of Hierocles and Philostra­tus written of this subject. I might likewise introduce the Magicians of both Worlds, all which have acted diverse things exceeding the Powers of Nature, only by Demoniacal Assistance.

[Page 37]If any one therefore shall pretend a Divine Commis­sion, there are Three things which he ought to prove his Authority by: Miracles, Holiness of Life, and a Doctrine worthy of God, and every way useful to Mankind. If he bring all these things, he is to be believed as sent from God. But it no way comports with Di­vine Goodness and Veracity to bear witness to a False­hood, or to expose men in things of the Greatest mo­ment to an Everlasting and inevitable Delusion.

Wherefore we are not only to look at Miracles, but at the Life and Doctrine of the Person who pretends them, to gain to himself the Belief of Divine Authority. To this purpose our Saviour made use of an invincible Argument against the Pharisees, who objected to him that he cast out Devils by the help of the Prince of De­vils, viz. That a Kingdom divided against it self is Mat. 12. 24, 25. brought to desolation: Therefore since he both by his Doctrine, and the mighty works that he did, set him­self wholly to pull down and overthrow the Kingdom of Satan, it could not be that he should cast out Devils by the Assistance of Satan. Therefore to make up a Right Judgment concerning a Divine Testimony, the matter it self which is attested ought to come into Consideration, which if it contain any thing contrary to the setled Principles of Nature, those Miracles are not to be looked upon as Divine, but as Diabolical Delu­sions. The Beroeans were commended by the Spirit of God to be more Noble then those in Thessalonica, i. e. of a more ingenuous and pliable Temper, in that they searched the Act. [...]. [...]. Scriptures, whether those things spoken by Paul and Silas were so. Why should not the same Commendation belong likewise to us, if we put to a severe Scrutiny & Trial what­ever is deliver'd to us by any Person for a Divine Law?

3. A third Argument may be drawn from the Na­ture of Religion, which ought to be matter of Choice [Page 38] and Delight. But now it is impossible that any one should please himself in that which is contrary to the Principles of his very Nature. And indeed to know Conclusions themselves, unless we likewise are ascer­tain'd from what Principles they flow, yields but a slender Delight to the Understanding: As the Pleasure of a Mathematical Genius results, not from having Geo­metrical Problems as undoubted Axioms by Heart, but [...]rom the being able to comprehend their Demonstra­tions deduced by a long Series of Propositions. Where­fore it is most agreeable to the Divine Goodness so [...]ar to indulge and have regard to the Nature of Man un­der the Gospel, that he may find the Harmony and Agree­ment of those things with Reason, which are propound­ed to him as Objects of Faith. For here lies the Prin­cipal Difference between Mankind and Bruits, in their being capable of Religion. And it is a thing abhorrent from all Reason, that that which is most Natural, and the sole Propriety of Man, should yet be contradictory to his own Faculties. Can it be imagined that God intended to perplex Humane Intellect with inexplica­ble subtleties? Or is any thing the more excellent and Venerable, because it exceeds all Understanding? Is he to be deemed the fittest subject for Religion, who is most Bigotical and carelesly credulous? Are we to put off Hu­mane Nature that we may become Religious? Surely to entertain the least suspicion of such a thing were the very Reproach of all Religion: Such ought to be every Man's Judgment of his Religion, that it con­tain nothing in it absurd, unbecoming, or Repugnant to Right Reason; for what a shame were it for Religi­on to be afraid of the Tribunal of Reason? I have al­ways looked upon that Religion most worthy of my choice, which comes off Victorious when called to the Bar of strictest Reason. Wherefore should a Gracious [Page 39] God bestow upon us the Faculty of Reason, if we must not suffer it to do its Office when our concern is most in Question? Or what other Faculty is there left by who [...]e conduct we can search into the Truth of Reli­gion? If we once forsake the Guidance of Reason must not all Religion be owing either to Education, Super­stition or some Fanatical Impulse?

But you will say, our Reason since the Fall is too much darkned, and therefore we are not competent Judges of Divine things.

But are the faint and more languishing Rays of the declining Sun therefore contemptible, and to be reputed Darkness, because we are deprived of his Meridian and more Exalted Light? Must he whose Eyes are somewhat dull, be therefore accounted stark blind? Or must we quite shut our Eyes, because they want the sharpness and Perspicacity of Eagles?

Is not Religion of such a Nature as requires our greatest Care and Diligence, as of a thing of the highest moment, and in which to have erred were our greatest Infelicity? And to what Purpose were our Faculties gi­ven, if they be of no use in those things wherein we most need them? Shall another Judge for us? Or shall the Understanding of another direct my will? Shall I fee with other mens Eyes? Or walk only by the light that another carries before me? Shall I mortifie my irregular Affections with Arguments that I do not un­derstand? Or govern my life by the mea [...]ure of ano­ther Man's Principles? Are not all these things to be done by a Man's own proper Judgment, Intellect and Light? And can this be effected without the use of Rea­son? Nay further, is there need of any other Faculty in the choice of Religion, and such Principles as tend to the Regulation of Life, but only of Reason? Re­ligion [Page 40] is a free and ingenuous thing, that forceth none, but Captivates the Understanding with its own solitary Beauty & Pulchritude. And he that thinks otherwise falsly accuses Religion & introduces Superstition into its Place.

4. A Fourth Argument I take from the Nature of Right Reason; from whence arises a clear Demonstra­tion, that no Divine Revelation can be contrary to it. For the Souls of Men are derived from the D [...]vine Mind, and Right Reason is of a Celestial Original, fra­med after the Image of Uncreated Wisdom and Know­ledge. It is a certain Beam or Ray of the Intellectual Sun, bearing the Resemblance of Primigenial light. For Divine Wisdom is nothing else but a steady Compre­hension of the Idea's of Things, together with those Reasons, A [...]ections, and Mutual Relations whether of Concord or Discord, which Immediately slow from the Nature of Things themselves, as Relations po [...]ito fun­damento & termino. And the Divine Intellect does inti­mately penetrate and behold at one view these Affecti­ons together with the Idea's of the Things themselves and discerns their Order and Reciprocations. Now what is this but fixed and stable Reason looking upon the Reasons and Connections of all things at once, and as it were with an Unmoved Eye? Whose express and accurate Resemblance is Right Reason engraven on Hu­mane Minds, which though it cannot know and lay open all things, and their respective Reasons, by one single Act, yet it explicates and unfolds them suc­cessively and in order. Moreover, we have a clear and distinct Perception of the Consent or Discrepancy of so many of these Idea's and Reasons as we have an Entire and Comprehensive view of, and accordingly undertake either the Probation or Refutation of one from another. Wherefore Humane Reason does truly [Page 41] imitate and express Divine Wisdom, with this only Difference, that what she comprehends at once with one single Act, Reason deduces by many and operose Con­sequences.

That God should therefore reveal any thing contrary to Right Reason, is alike impious as to suppose him to be a Liar, and to contradict the internal Conceptions of his own Wisdom. For Right Reason and Divine Wis­dom give the same Judgment of things, and if Humane Understanding shall at any time determine otherwise, that must not be looked upon as the Fault of Reason, but of Ignorance. Therefore if any thing propounded under the Plausible Name of Divine Revelation shall seem to contradict Reason, I ought to suspect that I do not fully conprehend the meaning of it, and there­fore must insist upon a further search, and resolve that God intended that to be believed, which should be most consonant to the Principles of Nature. Nevertheless I would not have Humane Understanding arrogate too much to it self, nor rashly attempt to condemn pre­sently that which exceeds its Capacity. For if the chiefest Part of those things which are delivered and consigned by Divine Testimony, be worthy of God, and Consonant to ou [...] Faculties, as to other things we ought to yield an implicit Faith to Divine Revelations, though they seem otherwise to clash with Reason, yet to give our Assent to them, at least according to the sense of the Spirit of God, although what that is, we cannot yet so fully understand.

5. A Fifth and last Argument shall be drawn from the Nature of the Christian Religion it self. And first of all as to its Precepts, their Purity, sanctity and use­fulness, both as to particular Persons, and also the Publick, are so clear to every attentive and considerative Man, [Page 42] that it would be altogether super [...]luous to go about to evince their Agreement with Reason: More especially when the thing it self is so fully made good already by the learned Dr. Hammond. From hence it likewise fol­lows, That the Promises and Comminations in Religi­on are extreamly agreeable to Reason, forasmuch as they are a kind of Hedge and Security for the Precepts contain'd in it. And though these three Parts of Chri­stianity do far excel, yet they are not wholly different from other Religions that have taken place in the World, especially among the wiser and more Philoso­phical Pagans, who set the Precepts of Morality at a high Pitch, and also held the Doctrine of Rewards and Punishments after this life. So that whatever may be said in Vindication of the Ancient Piety and Wisdom, may with greater Reason be spoken in behalf of Chri­stian Religion. For even the most profané and Atheisti­cal Wits upon reading the Holy Scriptures have con­fessed that they contain in them the most excellent Pre­cepts of Piety and Virtue.

Therefore I shall choose rather to discourse briefly of Christianity under the Notion of a Determi [...]ate Reli­gion different from all other, that its Conformity with Right Reason may from hence likewise be made appa­rent.

First, therefore, What can be thought more agreeable to Reason then that God should intrust some certain Per­son with the Office of teaching and instructing Mankind in the Discharge of their Duty to him, and to one ano­ther? For the Degenerate Offspring of Adam are hugely ignorant of their Duty (whence so many ridiculous Rites of Superstition have been observable throughout all Ages) and very much need a Teacher. And besides they are obstinately and wilfully bent upon the Lusts of the [Page 43] Flesh, and for this Reason want such a Law-giver as may Cause a Veneration and Fear in them. And that this Legislator should be a Person of an unspotted and blameless life is very congruous, both that he may be a Pattern and Example to us, and likewise beget a Reverence and Esteem of his Doctrine. That he should be conceived by the Power of the Holy Ghost in the Womb of a Virgin without the concurrence of Man, is an excellent provision for a higher Esteem and Valua­tion of his Person, being separated from Humane De­filements, and the Ordinary Course of Nature. That he should be intimately united to the Divine Nature, and so truly and properly God, adds the greater Majesty to what he should deliver. Nor could God signifie his will in a way more agreeable to the Nature of Man; for he cannot appear to us but under some Corporeal Veil; and what more fitting Mansion or Covering then our Flesh? Why may not God make use of some one of us (as the Soul doth of the Body) as an Instrument by whose Intervention he may discover his Mind to us? Here is nothing either Contrary to Reason or hard to be under­stood. For why should the Conjunction of the Deity with the Nature of Christ more trouble the Understand­ing then the Union of the Soul with the Body? For the higher and more exalted Nature any thing is of, with the greater Facility may it insinuate and derive it self. But though this Person be so illustrious, yet it seems Reasonable that in reference to this Bodily life he should be of mean Quality and obscure Condition, ob­noxious to the same Evils and Infirmities, to which we our selves are exposed: For so we shall have mighty Incen­tives to the Love of God, and Patient bearing of Affli­ctions, when we see the most Innocent Captain of our Salvation, suffer fo much upon our Account. Besides, [Page 44] that it is an Argument of the greatest Trust and Confi­dence in our Lord and Saviour, who being himself made perfect through sufferings, knows how to succour and relieve those that are oppressed under them. More­over we may reasonably expect that God should give us some greater certainty of Eternal and Immortal life, then what was found among the Heathen, who spake very doubtfully of it; as likewise that we should be more fully assured of the Resurrection of the Body, without which the Happiness of Man cannot be Com­pleat: And how ready God is to Pardon Sinners upon a true Faith and Repentance; for this we are apt to doubt of when we consider the Malignity of Sin, our own proneness to Revenge, and how rare a thing it is to find forgiveness of a fault amongst men. In like man­ner, that he should establish the Belief of Rewards and Punishments after this life; that by looking up to those we may be allured to Obedience, and out of fear of these may be deterred from sin. And that he should gain credit to all these things both by his Miracles, and by his Death: For Miracles are the greatest Testi­mony of Divine Presence. And in that he yielded himself up to Death, it is a Great sign of the Truth and Since­rity of his dealing with us. Besides, It is a clear De­monstration of the Divine Goodness towards us, who spared not his own Son that he might do us good. Nor can there be a stronger Argument to move us to Crucifie our Lusts, and to lay down our lives for the Brethren. But that our Lord by his Death became a Sacri­fice for sins, by which God declared his Placableness, it was a design of Infinite Wisdom and Goodness to re­lieve and succour the Soul under the Arguments of De­spondency and Distrust, which it fetcht against it self from the Holiness and Justice of God, the Death of [Page 45] Christ for that very End propitiating Divine Justice. His Resurrection from the Dead is likewise very Conso­nant to Reason, being an Ample Confirmation of his past Actions, and also a Demonstration of the Possibility of our Resurrection and Return to Life after Death. But that after his Resurrection he was exalted at the Right hand of God, and that all Prayers and Praises should be offered to God by his Mediation, and that he always makes Intercession for us, this is likewise very agree­able to Reason: For hence God not only makes known to us his kindness and Good-will, but has placed our Brother at his Right hand, a Person most dear to him, and most tenderly affected towards us, through whom we may with cheerfulness and full trust make our ap­proach to God; Christ in the mean while deprecating God in our behalf, that we should acknowledge what­ever Good befals us to proceed wholly and purely from the love of God. And then in that all Power both in Heaven and Earth is committed into his hands, and that he is Gods Vice-gerent, and the Head of Saints and Angels, it is a great Comfort to us, because it is he that so dearly loves us who is possest of such mighty Power. Moreover since there is without Dispute a cer­tain Polity and Government among the Blessed Saints and Angels, whom can we imagine to have better and greater Right to this Principality than Jesus Christ, who is God clothed with Humane Nature? And that both Devils and Men are sometime to be summon'd before the dreadful Tribunal of God, is very Consentaneous; for this very thought will strike Terror into the most daring Sinner, and the Solemnity of the Judgment will vindicate God from all Suspicion of Malignity and Injustice, because every Man's Conscience will testifie to him that his Misery proceeds from his own [...] [Page 46] [...] [Page 47] [Page 46] wretched Folly. Nor can any thing be imagined more proper then that Christ should be appointed Judge; for since God cannot execute this solemn Judgment but un­der a visible shape, what fitter Instrument can there be for this Purpose, then that very Nature in which long ago he has taken up his dwelling? And lastly, 'tis no way discrepant from Reason, that having subdued all his Enemies, he should deliver up the Kingdom to his Father: For his Mediatory Office being designed to this Purpose, that lapsed Man may be recovered to the Life of God, and invested with endless Happiness; up­on the perfecting this work, the Determination of his Kingdom ought to follow. Which yet is to be understood after this manner, viz. That Jesus Christ, God-Man shall from thence, and for ever continue the Prince and Head of Saints and Angels. Thus we have briefly run through the several Heads of Christian Religion, and shall not further trespass upon your Patience.

What remains I shall dispatch in a Word. From what hath been already said it appears clearly indecorous and unworthy of a Christian to draw in his Religion with his Mothers Milk, and to attribute his receiving it, not to the Ingenuous Disquisition of Reason, but to the Laws of his Country, his Education, to the Dictates of some learned Man in whom he has an Implicit Faith, and such like Prejudices as these. And in Conclusion, makes it his whole business pertinaciously to defend it, not upon a due choice and difcernment between Truth and Falshood, but upon some preconceived and preju­dicate Opinion. Whereas that is scarce worthy the Name of Faith, nor grateful to God, which owes its Original rather to some dull chance, then either to the Evidence of the thing it self, or the weight of the Ar­guments for it. Nay certain it is, that he who after [Page 47] an humble, pious, and attentive weighing of Things shall yet fall into Error, is upon better grounds to be judged if not worthy of Praise, yet at least of Pardon, then he that shall blindly and fortuitously assent, though to Truth it self. To which the Holy Writings bear witness, by commanding us to search the Scriptures; to Joh. 5. 39. 1 Thes. 5. 21. prove all things; and to examine and try the Spirits: 1 Joh. 4. 1. And as our Apostle exhorts us, to be ready always to give an answer to every Man that asks us a Reason of the [...]ope that is in us.

The End.

ANNOTATIONS Upon the forogoing DISCOURSE.

THe Pious and Excellently learned Author of this Discourse, being himself so Great a Ma­ster of Reason, made it his whole Business to im­ploy his Great Parts for the Honour and Ad­vantage of Religion. He was a well instructed Scribe for the Kingdom of Heaven, and as a Faithful Steward of the Mysteries of God, brought forth out of his Treasures things New and Old. And finding Christianity attackt and assaulted by Deists and Enthu­siasts, he resolutely came in to her Aid and Assistance, and by invincible Arguments hath made Good both the use of Reason in Matters of Religion, and that Christia­nity contains nothing in it contrary to the Laws and Inscriptions of Right Reason. Upon this Foundation the whole Discourse is setled and grounded, on which I here offer such Annotations as may best serve to illu­strate and confirm that high Sense and great Reason our Ingenious Author hath curiously and with most accurate Judgment drawn together.

Pag. 3, 4. What ever is propounded to us as matter of Belief, ought not so much as to be above Reason.] There are some who out of stupidity rather then a due Venera­tion [Page 49] of Religion, make the choicest of its Articles so in­comprehensible as to be elevated above Reason, that is, in their sense, such as of which Humane Intellect can have no Conception: Then which certainly nothing can be more derogatory to that Sacred Oeconomy, which the Eternal [...] the Son of God hath set on foot, nor give greater Ground to the bold Cavils and Pretentions of Enthusiasts and disguised Atheists. As if there were no other design in the Christian Religion but to amuze and puzzle Humane Understandings, by propounding a Company of intricate and perplexed Riddles, of which we can have no Apprehension, but must believe them merely because they are unintelligible. For cer­tain it is, that whatever is in its own Nature uncon­ceivable can be no Object of Humane Understanding, and consequently can be no Object of Faith. And it were a vain and ridiculous Thing to tell us that God reveals unconceivable Mysteries to us, to convince us of our Emptiness and Nothingness: For Christian Reli­gion makes its ultimate End to be the Perfection of Hu­mane Nature; Now that which is wholly and absolute­ly above Reason is likewise unintelligible, and what is so, can in no sense be said to advance and better the Faculties of Man, and perfect his Nature. 'Tis true, in this sense, and in no other, we may admit a thing to be above Reason, that is (as our excellent Author speaks) because bare Intellect could not light upon it. For the whole Frame and Contexture of Christianity shews a Wisdom exceeding that of Angels as well as Men, but yet now it is manifested and revealed to us, there is nothing in it unconceivable, nor any one Article beyond the Power of a Rational Soul to have, though not a full, yet a clear and distinct Idea of. The very Notion of God implies Incomprehensibility in it, yet not­withstanding [Page 50] a Rational Mind may have a very evident and clear Conception of his Nature. And that which dazles our Eyes with such an amazing lustre in Christia­nity, that is, the Doctrine of the Trinity, was not thought either unintelligible or irrational by the wise [...] and most learned Pagans, though such is the Profound­ness of the Mystery, that Humane Understanding could never have fall'n upon any such Thing without a Di­vine Revelation. Therefore what the best of the Pa­gans discoursed of it, was but a Communication of that Doctrine which had been received by Tradition from the first Ages of the World, and was made known to them by Supernatural Revelation. The same we may say of all other Mysterious Points in the Christian Reli­gion, that being revealed, they bear a pleasing and agreeable Harmony with our Reasons, and do inti­mately correspond with something in our own Minds.

Pag. 4. This Obscurity is not a little subservient to be­get and conciliate Reverence and Esteem to the Christian Doctrine.] The Christian Religion has this in Common with all other Mysteries, that it hath a Veil drawn over its more recondite and hidden Doctrines, partly that it may not be prophaned and exposed to contempt by every common Eye; and partly to whet and shar­pen the Industry of Capacious Minds to a diligent search and inquisition after such inestimable Treasures. For as the Initiati in the Mysterious Rites both of Greeks and Egyptians, were first to undergo a due Purification of themselves before they were admitted to the Presence and Fruition of the worshipped Deity; so does Chri­stian Religion declare its end to be the perfecting Hu­mane Souls, and at last conducting them by an orderly P [...]cation both of Body and Mind into the Sacred [Page 51] Adytum to enjoy the Presence of God in the highest Heavens for evermore. Hence Christianity as it is a Mystery, so in opposition to the prophane Rites of the Heathen worship, it is [...] a Mystery of Godliness, 1 Tim. 3. 16. and [...] a Doctrine according to Godliness, 1 Tim. 6. 3. And it is very decorous and becoming the Wisdom of God, to hide and conceal the choice Doctrines of Christianity as pre­cious Treasures, behind a Cloud, that they may not be the too easie Purchase of every dissolute Person, and that Religion it self may not be contemned and disesteemed by supposing it to have nothing Venerable and excellent in it. But as the Spectators at the foot of the Hill be­hold no greater Beauty and Comeliness in the Face of our Saviour then in other men, but when he ascended the Mount his Countenance appear'd to those that were capable, with a Brightness and Lustre far surpassing that of the Sun: Thus it is with his Doctrine; while we converse only below, and our Eyes are filled with Dust, and our Minds swell'd with the Lusts and Vanities of the World, we see no more Excellency and Beauty to command our Veneration and love in Christianity then in other things: But if we would ascend up to the top of the Mount by a due Purification of our Spirits, by Mortification of our irregular Appetites and by Assimi­lation of our Minds to God, we should behold admirable Glories, and be enravished with the Pulchritude of the transfigur'd Face of Jesus. For the Secret of the Lord is Psal. 25. 14. only with them that fear him.

Pag. 5. There is a certain Person who asserts the Rea­sons of Things to be contingent and arbitrarious.] The Person intended here was Szydlovius who in a Treatise intituled, Vindicioe Quoestionum aliquot difficilium & con­troversarum in Theologia, printed at Franeker, among [Page 52] other things lays down such Positions as these, Quoe­ritur (inquit) An detur aliquid antecedenter bonum ad Voluntatem Dei: Sive, An res sint ideò justoe & bonoe quia Deus eas vult, vel, An ideò eas velit quia justoe sint? Negatur dari aliquid antecedenter bonum ad voluntatem Dei, & Affirmatur Res ideò esse justas & bonas, quia eas Deus vult; non contra, ideò eas velle Deum quia Justoe & bonoe sint. And afterwards he thus goes on, Obji­ciet quispiam: Ergo sic Deus poterit imperare Blasphe­miam, Perjurium, Mendacium, &c. quod absurdum Vide­tur. Resp. Etiam in illis quoe ad cultum Dei pertinent, nullo a [...]o modo homines obligantur nisi ex proecepto & per legem. Si enim Deus voluisset, tum potuisset alium Cultum vel modum Cultûs jubere sibi proestari. Ita (que) etiam ista quoe ad Cultum suum pertinent, Deus liberrimè proecepit, & quidem ut potuerit aliter proecepisse: ideó (que) ex Hypothesi tantùm Mandati Divini ista sunt vitia. Et videtur hîc proesupponi, quasi Mendacium & Blasphemia afficiant Deum aliquo modo, quod prorsus falsum est. Certum igitur est Deum potuisse contrarium modum cultûs sibi jubere proe­stari. Which execrable Positions our Author out of that tender and delicate sense he had of Truth, and mighty Zeal for the Honour of God, did justly detest and abominate, and therefore set himself to confute such Blasphemous Assertions as these in a short but ex­ceeding Compact and Rational Discourse, which since his much lamented Death has been Published by the Title of A Discourse of Truth, and is now reprinted with another useful Discourse of an Ingenious Person with Annotations upon them both. To which for full satisfaction and Prosecution of the Heads here mention­ed I refer. And shall only transcribe what I find con­cerning this Subject in a Philosophical Poem.

If God do all things simply at his Pleasure,
Because he will, and not because it's Good,
So that his Actions will have no set measure;
Is't possible it should be understood
What he intends? I feel that he is lov'd
Of my dear Soul, and know that I have born
Much for his sake; yet is it not hence prov'd
That I shall live, though I do sigh and mourn
To find his Face, his Creatures wish he'll slight & scorn.
When I breath out my utmost Vital Breath,
And my dear Spirit to my God commend,
Yet some foul Fiend close lurking underneath
My serious, humble Soul from me may rend:
So to the lower shades down we shall wend.
Though I in Hearts simplicity expected
A Better doom; sith I my steps did bend
Towards the Will of God, and had detected
Strong Hope of lasting Life, but now I am rejected.
Nor of well Being, nor Subsistency
Of our poor Souls, when they do hence depart:
Can any be assured, if liberty
We give to such odd thoughts, that thus pervert
The Laws of God, and rashly do assert
That Will rules God, but Good rules not Gods will:
What e're from Right, Love, Equity doth start,
For ought we know then God may act that ill,
Only to shew his Might, and his free Mind fulfil.

Pag. 5, 6. That God should plant such Faculties in us as may then deceive us, when they most clearly and di­stinctly perceive their respective Objects, is contrary to the Divine Goodness and Veracity.]

[Page 54]'Tis tr [...]e, if God were such an Arbitrary Being whose sole Will were the Rule and Measure of Goodness and Justice, as the forecited Author contends he is, it is utt [...]rly impossible we should have any certainty of the clearest Truth, not so much as that Three and Three make Six, because we can never be assured that this Ar­bitrary Omnipotent Deity did not purposely make the Frame of our Souls so, as that they should then be de­ceived when they have the clearest and most evident Perception of things. Therefore that Acute Philoso­pher Des-Cartes committed a great over-sight when he would have us doubt of the Truth of those Things whereof we have the clearest Evidence and Demonstra­tion; becau [...]e till we come to the Knowledge of a God we cannot be certain that our Faculties are not false and imposturous; for we have no way to come to the knowledge of God, but by our Faculties. And therefore this were, 1. To condemn us to an Eternal Scepticism from which there is no possibility of ever extricating our selves. 2. It is a Ridiculous way of Argumenta­tion to prove the Truth of God's Existence [...]rom our Faculties of Reason and Understanding; and then to prove the Truth of those Faculties from the Existence of God. 3. There being nothing more Immediate to us, nor any thing whereby we can conclude more cer­tainly a thing to be true then by our own Faculties, if the Truth of our Faculties is to be proved by any thing, it is evident, it is to be proved by our Faculties them­selves, but this were also a ridiculous circular Demon­stration, to prove the Truth of our Faculties, by the Truth of our Faculties. Whence it necessarily follows that we are only to suppose our Faculties to be true, it being Impossible for us to prove them to be so. But to be above this Pitch is the Priviledge only of the Eternal [Page 55] Mind, or of the [...] the only wise God, as our Faculties if rightly cultivated suggest unto us, & the Apostle does admonish us. That therefore was the mainSee Dr. More's Vol. Philosoph. slip in Des-Cartes that he was not content to suppose ourTom. 2. p. 161. Faculties to be true, but he would prove them to be so, when he was destitute of all Argument for it, but the Truth of the Faculties themselves. But some Philosophers bring the business to a closer pinch, as they conceive, by supposing the very Essence of Truth to be clear and di­stinct Perceptibility, insomuch that not Omnipoteuce it self, much less Casualty, can bring to pass that what is false should be clearly perceived to be. But these otherwise witty and learned Contemplators do not con­sider, That Truth is a Thing antecedent to Perceptibi­lity, which respects the Perceptive Intellect, and is in it self nothing else (I mean Eternal Truths) but the necessary Coherence or Incoherence of the Terms of which the Truth it self doth consist. And therefore Perceptibility cannot be the Essence of Truth. I speak here of Truth in the Object, not in the Subject, as our Author has distinguished in his Ingenious Discourse of Truth; which no Intellect Perceptive or Conceptine makes, but finds in the Intellect Exhibitive, as his An­notator has also observed: Insomuch that the Divine Intellect it self quatenus Perceptive or Conceptive is not the A [...]thor of Archetipal Truth, but quatenus Exhibi­tive. Moreover, though clear and distinct Perceptibi­lity were the very Essence of Truth, whenas indeed it is only a Relative Mode thereof, what is this to our Perceptive Faculty, till it come to a clear actual Percep­tion, and what is this but a strong Cogitation that I clearly and distinctly perceive a thing? But that many have been mistaken when they have had such a strong Cogitation is indeed the known Disgrace of Speculati­on [Page 56] and Philosophy. Whence it is manifest, when they say that Omnipotence it self cannot bring to pass that what is false should be clearly perceived to be, that the Word [perceived] is fallaciously abused, to a sense be­yond the Capacity of the present Circumstan [...]es, as if it signified [really to find] whenas it only signifies, strongly to think we clearly perceive a Thing to be. Which many have and yet have been in a mistake; and this by Casualty. What then cannot Omnipotence do in this kind, if it would? But supposing our [...]aculties to be true when all Moral diligence has been employed to fit them for use (and none but a Humorist will then call in­to Question their Verdict, when they clearly discern a thing to be) the Existence of God and his Attributes being plain to us, we have a further Assurance, we ha­ving such an Author of our Being, that he gave not our Faculties to abuse us but to inform us faithfully of all Truth necessary and useful for us, so that what is clear to them is really true. Which is the Assertion of this our Lear­ned and Pious Writer without any Cartesian Fetches and Ambages. And lastly, we may note by way of Over­plus, That clearness and distinctness of Perception in the Intellect Perceptive or Conceptive, is not the Right no­tion of Truth, but the Conformity of the Perception or Conception with the Thing conceived, which is Truth in the Object; and that therefore in false Opi­nions the Perception of the Intellect is not only obscure, but false, because it perceives or conceives otherwise then the Thing it self is, which is the true and univer­sally acknowledged Notion of what is false in the con­ceiving of Things.

Pag. 8. Our Reason would immediately have suggested to us that he was an Impostor and Deceiver.] That God may permit an Impostor and Deceiver to work Mira­cles, [Page 57] we have the express Testimony of Holy Scripture, and the matter of Fact confirmed in the Egypti [...] So [...] ­cerers, Deut. 13. 1, 2. Moses tells the [...], that if any Per [...]on should come in the Name of a Prophet, and should do a Miracle, i [...] that Prophet [...] attempt by this to seduce them to Idolatry, then he was not to be bel [...]eved, because God might suffer this in Tentationem, to prove their Faith and Belief in the true God. But on the other side if a Prophet should come in the Na [...]e of God, and produce M [...]acles as the Credentials of Divine Authority and Commission, and should ex­hort them only to the Worship of the True God of Is­rael, than he [...] to [...]e believed. For this was the Sign or Note by which they should know a true Pro­phet from a false, Deut. 18. 21, 22. In like manner, We that are Christians, having the Law of Right Rea­son engraven in our Souls, ought to be as Cautious and Jealous of admitting Belief, though a Person should by Miracles seek to extort it from us, if under pretence of Divine Revelation he would introduce any thing contrary to clear and evident Reason. Be­cause we may be assured that no such thing can be Au­thorized of God, but that if the Miracles are true and real, they are done in Tentationem. See Annotat. upon p. 14.

Pag. 10. We find most of these to have been actuated with an excess of Joy, and transported with a seemingly Divine fervor.] How far a Natural Enthu [...]iasm may Pre­vail upon men is evidently seen in the fresh Examples which every Age produces; and 'tis observable that those Sects among us which pretend most to Divine In­spiration, are most of all in [...]ected and agitated with Melancholy, which arising from the lower Region of the Body, and ascending in Copious-steams with the [Page 58] Blood and Spirits into the Brain, ferments like new Wine, and stains the Imagination with Variety of Phan­tasms and Impressions. And if this happen to a Devo­tional and Religious Temper whose understanding is not strong enough to discern the Illusions of Phansie from the Dictates of the Spirit of God, it presently begets in him a strong and vigorous Conceit that he is Divinely acted and inspired. With which Delusion they are the more easily imposed upon, for want of a right Under­standing of the Nature of the Prophetical Spirit, whose impulse and influence upon the Mind, though it were strong and vigorous, being in the Heart as a burning Fire, shut up in the Bones, which sensibly afflicted and pained till it received a Vent (as is expressed by the Prophet Jeremy, Chap. 20. 9.) yet it never altered nor clouded the Rational Faculty, but the Intellectual Light remained still free and undisturbed, nor did ever any Prophet when acted by Divine Inspiration deliver any Thing contrary to the fixed and Eternal Laws of Reason. Now the way to distinguish these Enthusia­stical Impostures from Divine Influxes and Illumina­tions, is by comparing them with the known and in­fallible Dictates of Right Reason; for no Truth delive­red by Divine Revelation is ever contrary or contra­dictious to the Rational Faculties of Mankind. He that would know more of the Effects of this Natural Enthu­siasm may consult that Excellent Treatise of Dr. More, intituled Enthusiasmus Triumphatus.

Pag. 12. So long as that brisk and lively rellish of sen­sual Pleasures draws away the Mind, it will not be at lei­sure to attend to the soft Whispers of that Gentle Monitor within.] There is in the Soul of Man a double Nature, Intellectual and Animal, which the Scripture calls by the Name of Flesh and Spirit, or the [...] and [...] [Page 59] [...] the inner and outer Man. And according to this double Capacity, the Respective Objects are like­wise different: The Animal Nature or Outer Man dictates the [...] what is pleasant or profitable in the Grossest sense, and is only that blind and irrational Ap­petite which results from the Souls Union and Conjun­ction with the Body. With reference to this the Apostle says, 1 Joh. 2. 16. All that is in the World, the Lust of the Flesh, the Lust of the Eye, and the Pride of Life, is not of the Father, but of the World: i. e. These are the Gratifications of the Mundane Life or Animal Nature, and about such things as these the Corporeal life is per­petually conversant as with its proper Objects. But now the Intellectual Nature or Inner Man takes for its Object the [...] what ought to be done, being ruled and guided by the Counsels and Inspirations of Right Reason. Now because the Soul cannot attend to two different Faculties or Capacities at the same time in their highest actings and Invigorations, it follows that upon the Prevalency and Enlargement of either of them, the other is sensibly dimini [...]hed, abated, and debilitated. For who is there that sees not how crazed and besot­ted those Persons are in their Intellectuals, who let themselves loose to the conduct of their irregular Lusts and Appetites, and plunge their Souls without bounds or measures in Corporeal Joys? So that were it not for their External shape, there would be little difference be­tween them and Bruits. And is it possible now to dis­cern the faint and weak glimmerings of Intellectual Light through such profound and clammy darkness? Nay, it is very easie to conceive that the Rampancy and Luxurian­cy of the Animal Life may arise to such a height as to form an Extraordinary and thick Cortex over the Intel­lectual or▪ Divine Principle, that its actings should ne­ver [Page 60] be perceptible any more, but like the Central Fire in an incrustated Star, be totally extinguished at the long run. Of so high a Concernment is it to Mankind to mortifie and subdue the irregular Excursions of this Plastick or Animal Life, and [...] its [...] irra­tional and blind Appetites in the Embryo or first rudi­mental Efformations. For the flush eruption and bla­zing of the Corporeal life, is a sad Presage of the Death and Extinction of the Diviner Faculties. And Death it self in a Physical sense is only the Consopition, or lay­ing asleep some Powers that others may awake in their stead: Hence the Spirit of God affirms that those who live in pleasures, i. e. licentiously and delicately, omit­ting no opportunities of gratifying that worser▪ Life to which they have so tender a Regard, are dead while 1 Tim. 5. 6. they live. To this purpose is that of Plotinus, Ennead. 1. l. 8. [...]. A vitious Person dies after that man­ner the Soul is capable of dying; and the Death of the Soul is by a total Immersion and repletion of it self with Corporeity.

Ibid. We are led by sense, either External or Internal, not by dry and insipid Reason.] It is [...] Part of the Authors Design to prove that bare and dry Reason is a sufficient Criterion to discern the true and [...]ffecting rellish of Hea­venly Things; for as there is some Principle in us which has a Vital sense and sapid Gust of Corporeal Joys and Pleasures, so there is a Principle likewise in the Soul of Man, which is [...], something better then Reason, and which a Platonist would call [...] the Flower and Summity of the Mind, when by due Purification of its self from all Corporeal Dregs and Pollutions, it arises to such a Measure of Participation of the Divine Life, [Page 61] as that it perceives a Generous Rellish, and G [...]ateful, and affecting Pleasure in Holiness and Virtue. For till this inward Intellectual Sense be in some Good measure awakened, Religion it self does but very little, and weak­ly affect the Mind. Therefore our Author adds, That heavenly Things are not otherwise to be known, but by such an inward rellish and affecting light as Divine Grace usual­ly imparts to defecate and humble Minds. And a little above he says, That to render our selves Obedient to the Will of our heavenly Father, is the only plain and easy way to the attaining a true knowledge and vital Sense of Di­vine Revelations. Consonant to what our Saviour him­self expresly affirms, Joh. 7. 17. If any Man will do the Will of God, he shall know of the Doctrine whether it be of God, or whether I speak of my self, i. e. The true rellish and vital sense of Religion arises from a Conformity of Mind with the Will of God. So that though Reason may furnish a Man with sufficient Arguments to assure him of the Truth of Religion, yet the sapid gust and affecting sense of it flows from the Expergefaction of the Intellectual Powers into a Divine life.

Ibid. To admonish them that are going astray, to illu­minate the Eyes of the Mind, to strengthen the Faith, and to fix and impress the Argument of Godliness upon the Soul, these and such like Things we owe to the benign In­fluence of the Holy Spirit.] It is a very great Indication of a Mal [...]ous Mind, or weak and crazy Intellectuals, when Men shall load and burden their Adversaries with the opprobrious and Invidious Term of Heresie, as denying the Aid & Assistance of the Spirit of God to be Necessary, when they only endeavour to make the Mystery of our Faith, the Oeconomy of Christian Religion to appear in all its Parts Rational, i. e. worthy and becoming of its Author the Eternal Wisdom of God. It has been [Page 62] the ill Fortune of some Eminent and Inge [...]ous Persons of late to be traduced for Pelagians, Socini [...]s and what not, for no other cause that I know of, but because they speak sense, and care not to explicate Religion by unintelligible Words and Phrases, quaint Allusions and odd Similitudes, but instead of all this jingling noise, they appeal to the Common and Rational Faculties of all Mankind. And in this they are so far from laying aside or rendring useless the Aid of the Holy Spirit of God under the Gospel, that they [...]eely acknowledge all their strength to derive from his ever-blessed Influence, that of themselves they are nothing, but that it is he who works in them both to will and to do; and that he is not only the beginner, but Finisher of every good work. Although perhaps they may not think the Ope­ration of the Spirit of God to be by an Omnipotent Power at large, but Hypothetical, and upon certain Terms and Conditions, like the great Formative Power in Nature, which produces not the Lineaments and Primigenial Rudiments of the Body of a Plant or Ani­mal out of a Flint, but requires a pliable Ductility and Sequaciousness in the Matter it works upon.

Pag. 14. Pythagoras, Apollonius Tyanaeus who en­deavoured by Magick Art to keep up the Credit of sinking Idolatry, was famous for Miracles.] That Miracles may be wrought by wicked Persons for ill ends and designs, is evident not only from the Prediction before cited, Deut. 13. as also from the Miracles wrought by the Egyptian Magicians to invalidate those of Moses, but likewise from the express Prophesie of our Saviour himself con­cerning false Prophets that should arise and shew [...] great signs and wonders, to de­ceive, Mat. 24. 24. if possible, even the Elect. And the Apostles of our Lord Jesus foretelling the coming of Antichrist, de­scribe [Page 63] it to be [...], after the effica [...]y of Satan, with all 2 Thess. 2. 9. Power, and Signs, and Wonders [or Miracles] of a Lye. And St. Iohn speaking of the same Person, says that [...] shall do [...] Great Wonders, and deceive them that dwell on the Earth, by the means of those Miracles Rev. 13. 13, 14. which he has Power to do in the sight of the Beast. Now [...]rom hence we may collect these things. 1. That true Miracles may be wrought by wicked Persons; not that God does immediately concur by his Almighty Power, in assisting them to do Miracles to countenance False­hoods, and the open Violation of his Laws, but that he may permit invisible created Spirits to exert their Ener­gy and Power in producing Supernatural Effects: Whence we have no Reason to think that the Miracles, foretold to be done by Antichrist and his Followers, or by false Prophets to be mere Juggles and Delusions of our Senses, but that some of them may be real Miracles, but because they are wrought to confirm Idolatry, and to establish such Doctrines as are plainly repugnant to the Rational Faculties of Mankind, therefore we are not to heed them, but to look upon them as [...], Miracles of Falshood, and a Lye. And of this sort were the Miracles of Apollonius, who though he might dazle the Eyes of some by the Glittering Brightness of his Counterfeit Virtues (it being for the Interest of the Divels Kingdom that he should act that part well yet he never transcended the bounds of the Animal life, butOrigen. contr. Cel l. 6. was an Archi-mago or Grand Magician, as Moeragenes, who wrote his life, testifies. 2. That God never per­mits false Prophets to do Miracles by the Assistance of evil Doemons, but only in the Case of such Falshoods as are clearly discoverable by the Light of Nature or com­mon Dictates of Universal and Right Reason; because [Page 64] if he should, it would be an Invincible Temptati­on: But (as our Author speaks a little below) it no way comports with Divine Goodness and Vera­city to bear witness to a falshood, or to expose men in things of the greatest moment to an everlasting and inevi­table Delusion. 3. That Miracles alone are not a suffi­cient Confirmation of the Divinity of a Doctrine, for­asmuch as they have been wrought by Pagans, and the same is asserted by Busbequius of some among the Turks; therefore besides Miracles, to perfect and compleat a Divine Testimony, there is required Holiness of life in the Person that pretends a Divine Mission, and a Do­ctrine worthy of God, and every way useful to Man­kind. Hence our Author adds, p. 15. That to make up a right Iudgment concerning a Divine Testimony the matter it self which is attested ought to come into consideration, which if it contain any thing contrary to the settled Prin­ciples of Nature, those Miracles are not to be looked upon as Divine, but as Diabolica [...] Delusions. Therefore for the Writers of the Romish Church to pretend Miracles now, and to rank them among the Essential Characters to prove the Truth of a Church by, as Bellarmine does, when all men whose Eyes are open, discover the grea­test part of those Miracles to be the Frauds and Impo­stures of cunning Priests, or if they were true, it being evident that they are wrought by Apostate Spirits for the Confirmation of such Doctrines as are clearly re­pugnant to the setled Principles of Right Reason, it is, (1.) To hazard and call in Question the Truth of those Miracles wrought by Christ and his Apostles for the Confirmation of Christianity. And (2.) to use the Words of a learned Man of our own, ‘If any strange things have been done in that Church, they prove no­thing but the Truth of Scripture, which foretold that [Page 65] (God's Providence permitting it, and the Wickedness of the World deserving it) strange Signs and Won­ders should be wrought to confirm false Doctrine, that they which love not the Truth should be given over to strong Delusions. So that now we have Reason rather to suspect and be afraid of pretended Miracles as signs of false Doctrine, then much to regard them as certain Arguments of Truth. Neither is it strange that God should permit some true Wonders to be done, to delude those who have forged so many Wonders, to deceive the World.’

Pag. 15. Here lies the Principal Difference between Mankind and Brutes in their being capable of Religion.] That the Essential Difference between Mankind and Brutes does not lie solely and purely in Rationality, ap­pears from hence, in that Brutes are capable of Reason, though in a lower Degree. And moreover we can frame a very Intelligible Idea of such Creatures as are capable of Reason so as to build Cities, and to Form and In­stitute Common-wealths, which yet have no Distincti­on of moral Good and Evil, and consequently are nei­ther capable of rewards nor punishments; and perhaps some such Animals may be actually existent in some part or other of the World. But that which constitutes the true difference between Men and Brutes is Religion, which the Satyrist took notice of,

—Separat hoec nos
Iuvenal, Sat. 15.
A grege mutorum, at (que) ideò venerabile soli
Sortiti ingenium divinorúm (que) capaces.

Pag. 16. If we once forsake the guidance of Reason, must not all Religion be owing either to Education, Super­stition, or some Fanatical Impulse?] To him that for­sakes the Conduct of Right Reason all Religions are [Page 66] alike, and he may as well be a Mahumetan or Jew as a Christian, and indeed that he has any Religion at all, is owing chiefly to his Education, and the Laws of the Country wherein he lives. But Religion being a mat­ter of choice, there must be some standing and setled Rule by which to try and judge the Truth or Falshood, the Congruity or Incongruity of it: And such a Rule as this God has furnished Mankind withal, namely Right Reason, and he that having means and opportu­nity to try and examine the Religion that is propound­ed to him as Matter of his Choice, shall yet carelesly content himself with it, because he has been educated and trained up in it, has his Understanding given him to no purpose, and may justly fear as a Punishment of this his careless Oscitancy and slothful Credulity, that Providence should permit him to swallow great and dangerous Errors as well as Truth. For he that believes without Reason declares himself indifferent to believe any thing right or wrong. Socrates gives this Com­mendation of Cebes, that he was careful to inquire into all things, and duly weigh them [...], and would not presently believe that which any Body said, though otherwise he had suffi­cient respect unto him. I shall subjoin what an excel­lent Writer speaks to this Purpose: ‘We ought not (says he) to surrender our belief to any thing carelesly; nor, either out of idleness and sloth, or being over­awed by the Confidence which any men assume to themselves, content our selves with an Implicit Faith: Neglecting to search and try, and prove all Things which demand to have no less then our Souls resigned up unto them. We ought therefore to suspect those who would have us believe them without putting our selves to the trouble of much search. It is a sign they [Page 67] mean to deceive; for if God himself does not expect to be believed, unless there be Good witness for that to which his Ambassadours demand Assent; why should men be so presumptuous as to ask us to believe them blindly? Or why should we be such Obedient Fools, as to do more for them then God would have us do for himself? He has given us Eyes, and there­fore we ought to look about-us, especially when Men bid us wink and take any thing upon trust. He has endued us with Reason, and therefore we ought to sift, and try, and examine that which is propounded to us. And if any Body say, Do not try, nor exa­mine; you are not able to discern the Differences of things; Believe as we teach, for we cannot deceive you: Mark that Man or Company of Men as the greatest Deceivers, who intend to impose something upon you, which will not abide the Test.’

Pag. 17. Religion is a free and ingenuous Thing, that forceth none, but Captivates the Understanding with its own solitary Beauty and Pulchritude.] The Soul of Man being the Workmanship of the Eternal [...] or Wis­dom of God, and coming into the World furnished with the Seeds and Principles of all true Wisdom and Knowledge, however its Lapse and Degeneracy have clouded and darkned its Intellectual Faculties, yet there still remaining such a Cognation and Harmony be­tween it and Truth, she cannot but embrace it when­ever duly and advantageously proposed. Now Christian Religion being likewise the Genuine Offspring of that Wisdom which has left such visible Characters and Sig­natures of it self upon the whole Frame of Heaven and Earth, the Soul of Man presently discovers all the Beautiful Emanations of it to be Congenerous and Ho­mogeneal to its own Intellectual Light, and as all like [Page 68] is attractive of its like, is gently and willingly captiva­ted, and sweetly drawn as with some hidden strings to a closer and nearer union with it. And this is the Reason why Christianity neither needs, nor uses Violence or Force to beget Belief and Entertainment in Humane Minds, because it is made up only of such Things as in­timately Correspond with the Intellectual Frame and Furniture of the Soul. Nor indeed (supposing Religion to contain any thing contrary to Right Reason) could Men ever be forced to believe it: For such is the Con­stitution of a Rational Soul, and such are the Essential Impresses of its Intellectual Nature, that no Man can be­lieve what he pleases, but is fatally bound up to such Things as are agreeable to those Principles of which his Rational Nature is compounded. And if it were in the Power of any Man to believe any thing though ne­ver so contradictory and repugnant to the Natural Sen­timents and Impressions of his own Mind, he might then yield as firm an Assent to Falshood as Truth, and repute all the Contradictions and Absurdities in the World to be infallible Oracles. And as he cannot arbi­trariously fix his Mind to the Reception of a Falshood, so neither of that which is irrational; for that which is Repugnant to Right Reason is certainly false, and all the Difference between them lies only in the Number of Syllables.

Pag. 18. Right Reason and Divine Wisdom give the same Judgment of things.] The Foundation of all Know­ledge whether Divine or Humane lies in the Apprehen­sion of the Idea's, Natures and mutual Respects and Re­lations of things; Now these not being Arbitratious, but setled, Eternally fixt and Immutable, it clearly follows that Right Reason and Divine Wisdom give the same Judgment of Things. Forasmuch as not only [Page 69] Right Reason is a Participation of the Divine Understanding, but likewise, that it is no more in the Power of God to change or alter the Idea's, Respects, and References of Things, then it is in his Power to die, or destroy his own Being. Hence a Triangle with its three Angles equal to two Right ones, and all Idea's with their Immuta­ble Respects, and Habitudes, appear the same in Humane Understanding as they are Represented and Exhibited in the Divine Intellect; because our Understanding is an Abstract or Copy of the Di­vine Understanding; as likewise because the con­trary would undermine and destroy the very Foun­dation of all Knowledge in the World. There­foreL. 1. de leg. it was truly asserted by Tully, Est igitur, quoniam nihil est Ratione melius, eá (que) & in homine & in Deo, prima homini cum Deo Rationis Socie­tas: Inter quos autem Ratio, inter eosdem etiam Recta Ratio communis est. Nor do we by this in a Stoical Arrogance make Man equal with God, as some may fondly imagine: For the Divine Intellect (as our learned Author speaks) doth intimately penetrate and behold at one view these Affections with the Idea's of the things themselves, and discerns their Order and Reciprocations. And this is properly called fixed and Stable Reason; whereas Humane Understanding explicates and unfolds things suc­cessively and in order, and this is Reason in suc­cession, or flowing and moveable Reason.

Pag. 41. As to other Things we ought to yield an Implicit Faith to Divine Revelation, &c.] Christian Religion sufficiently obtains its end, in that all those things which pertain to Life and God­liness [Page 70] to the Renovation of Mens Minds into the faultless Image of our Lord Jesus, are plain and intelligible even to the meanest Capacity; but in such things as are of a more Abstruse, Profound, and Speculative Nature, it is sufficient to have an Implicit Faith, i. e. to believe that the sense of all those Things that are delivered and consign­ed by Divine Testimony, though they trans­cend my Capacity, whatever it is which was in­tended by God, is true. For he that does not so, calls God's Truth in Question. But to believe this or that to be the true sense of them, or to believe the Modes of such and such Doctrines which are not plainly revealed in the Holy Scriptures, are thus to be explicated, and all other Explications of them utterly false, is not neces­sary either to Faith or Salvation. For if God would have had under Pain of Damnation those Doctrines which are not so plainly laid down, as that all should have the same Conceptions of them, to be equally believed by all in this Par­ticular and Determinate sense, it could not con­sist with his Wisdom to deliver them in obscure Terms, nor with his Justice to require of Men to know certainly the meaning of those Words which he himself has not revealed.

Pag. 43. That he may be a Pattern and Exam­ple Lib. 4. c. 24. to us.] ‘For (as Lactantius speaks excellently well.) Quomodo poterit amputari excusatio, &c. i. e. How can all excuse be taken away, unless he that teacheth, does the same things that he teacheth, and conducts, and lends his helping hand to him that follows? For if he should be [Page 71] subject to no Passion, a Man might thus reply upon his Teacher; I would not sin, but I am overcome, being clothed with frail and weak Flesh: This is it which is angry, which covets, which grieves, which fears to die. Therefore I am led unwillingly, and I sin, not because I would, but because I am forced. I am sensible likewise that I sin, but the necessity of Humane Frailty compels, which I cannot withstand. What shall this Teacher of Righteousness an­swer to these Things? How will he refute or convince that Man who lays the blame of his sins upon his Flesh, unless he himself be likewise clothed with Flesh and Blood, that so he may shew that Flesh it self is likewise capable of the Exercise of Virtue?’

Ibid. That be should be conceived by the Power of the Holy Ghost in the Womb of a Virgin, with­out the concurrence of Man, is an excellent Provi­sion for a higher esteem and Valuation of his Per­son.] That Christ should be Born of a Virgin without the Concurrence of Man, could not be looked upon as Incredible by the Pagan World, who scarce ever had any famous Hero among them, but they presently found out some God for his Father. And Plutarch in the Life of Numa relates, That the Egyptians supposed it pro­bable enough that the Spirit of the Gods has gi­ven Loco supra­dicto. Original of Generation to Women, and begot­ten fruit of their Bodies. And Lactantius argues the Reasonableness of the Nativity of Jesus of the Virgin Mary, from what was commonly believed among the Heathens concerning other Creatures, Quod si Animalia quoedam Vento & [Page 72] Aurâ concipere solere omnibus notum est, cur quis­quam mirum putet, cùm Spiritu Dei, cui est facile quicquid velit, gravatam esse Virginem dicimus? The belief of which when facilitated, will ap­pear an excellent Provision for a higher esteem and valuation of the Person of our Saviour. Therefore perhaps it was not only a drunken humour in Alexander, when he would be thought the Son of Jupiter Hammon, but to make himself appear more August and Venerable by the Re­putation of being the Son of a God. To this purpose it is related by Huetius that among the Turks there are certain Boys, which they call [...] believed of the common People to beDemonstr. Evangel. P. 385. Born of Virgins, and in great esteem, as supposed to do strange things: In the Turkish Language they are called Nephes-Ogli, i. e. the Sons of Soul. However these Things be, yet this is certain, that among all Nations those Persons have been always had in the greatest esteem and Veneration who have been taken to be the immediate Offspring of God. And this was it which put Pilate into such a great Fear, when the Jews told him that our Saviour asserted himself to be the Son of God, Joh. 19. 8. imagining according to the Opi­nion of the Gentiles that he might be the Son of Jupiter or Apollo, or some other of their Deities, and consequently that he ought rather to be reve­renced, then given up to be Crucified.

Ibid. Adds the greater Majesty to what he should deliver.] From hence it was that most of the Legislators among the Heathen, that they might obtain the greater Credit and Veneration [Page 73] to their Laws, were wont to tell the People they received them from some God or other. As My­nias persuaded the Egyptians that he was taught his Laws by Mercury: Minos intituled his to Ju piter; and Zamolxis among the Getes to the God­dess Vesta. Now albeit these were but Fictions, yet from the Dictates of common Reason they all concluded thus much, that there was no Law so binding, or that carried greater Majesty and Authority, then that which had Divinity stam­ped upon it.

Ibid. Nor could God signifie his will more agree­able to the Nature of Man.] ‘Admirably to [...] Purpose the forecited Lactantius discourses, where shewing how highly Reasonable it was that Christ should take upon him our Flesh, he adds, Si verò sit Immortalis, exemplum proponere homini nullo modo potest—i. e. If he had been wholly Immortal, he could not have offered himself as an Example to Mankind; for some grave Person would be very apt thus to bespeak him; you indeed do not sin, because you are free from this Body; you covet not, because an Im­mortal Being wants nothing: But I have need of many Things to maintain this life of mine. You are not afraid of Death, because it can have no Dominion over you. You despise Pain, because you are Impassible. But I poor Mortal have reason to fear both, because they bring upon me such grievous Torments as weak and infirm Flesh is not able to endure. Therefore he that is a Teacher of [...] ought to take away this excuse from men, [...] none may ascribe his sins rather to Necessity then his ownfault And that [Page 74] he may be every way compleat, nothing ought to be objected against him by him that is to be taught: As if any one should say, you command Impos­sibilities, he may readily answer, Behold I do the same things: I am clothed with Flesh, whose Property is to sin, yet I bear about a Mortal Body without sin. I cannot for Righteousness sake ei­ther suffer Pain or Death, because I am frail; Behold Pain and Death hath Power on me; and I overcome those things which thou fearest, that I may make thee a Conqueror over Pain and Death. I go first through those things which thou pre­tendest thou canst not bear; if thou canst not follow me in what I command, yet surely thou mayst follow me going before thee. Thus all manner of excuse is taken away, and every Man must confess that 'tis his own fault that he is Vitious, in neglecting to follow not only the Teacher of all Virtue, but the Guide and Conductor to it.’

And if any shall Object with that Impious Epicurean, and ask, Why could not God appear, and at once take away all wickedness and sin out ofContra [...] Cel. L. 4. P. 163. the Soul, and plant Virtue there? To this Origen replies, 1. That it may well be doubted [...] whether such a thing be naturally possible or not. 2. Supposing it be, [...] where will be the Liberty of our will? and where that laudable Assent to the Truth, and Aversation from Lies and Falshood? For if we take away Liberty and Spontaneity, we destroy the very Essence of Virtue. So that no Course could have been taken more agreeable [Page 75] and suitable to the Nature of Man, then what is made choice of in the Christian Religion.

Ibid. God cannot appear to us but under some cor­poreal Veil.] The Essences of all Things and so of Spirits are invisible, and nothing can be the Object of our Senses, but under some Corporeal Modifi­cation; therefore the Evangelical Oeconomy requi­ring not only that the Person who should come from God to instruct the World should be intimately and Hypostatically united with the Divine Nature, to conciliate the Greater Majesty to what he should deliver, but likewise that he should appear to Men in some visible form and shape. Divine Wisdom thought nothing a more sitting Mansion or Cove­ring then a humane Body, partly because an Ange­lical Body had been impassible, and then that we might not lose that Natural encouragement and Provocation to Virtue flowing from the Example of one made after our own likeness, who by those ma­ny endearing Circumstances he might make use of in the Flesh, would more Powerfully captivate and attract Humane Souls to the Love and Obedience of him. And therefore Ignatius in his Epistle to the Ephesians does justly condemn some Hereticks in his Time, who said that our Saviour Christ [...] was only a putative Man, [...] and that he did not take unto himself a true and real Body.

Pag. 44. Who spake very doubtfully of it.] When Socrates had brought as good Arguments for the Immortality of the Soul as he could, yet Simmias thought he had Reason to say, that to know anyIn [...] Platonis: thing clearly of it in this life, was either [...] [Page 76] [...] Impossible, or a thing extremely difficult. But (says he) a Man must choose the best Reasons he can find, which are least liable to Exception; and he must venture to embark himself in these, and Sail by them through this life, [...] i e. unless he can be so happy as to be carried safer with less danger, in a surer, stedfast Chariot of some Divine Word, i. e. Revelation; which is not only a clear acknowledg­ment that meer natural Reason is at a loss, but a kind of Vaticination of an indubitable certainty, and perfect security of Immortal life to be expected from some Divine Revelation: And accordingly is now put out of all doubt by our Lord and Saviour, who has brought Life and Immortality to light through the Gospel. Nor could that excellent Philoso­pher Cicero speak with greater Confidence, for when he had weighed all things on both Parts, he knew not what to say but this, Harum igitur Sententiarum, qu [...] vera sit, Deus aliquis viderit. i. e. Which of these Opinions is true, God only knows.Tu [...]ul. Quaest. L [...]b. 1.

Pag. 46. Since God cannot execute this Solemn Judgment, but under a visible shape.] That our Lord Jesus should appear at the End of the World in some visible shape and form, and in that pass a Fi­nal doom upon all Refractory and Impenitent Sin­ners, seems highly Rational, there being no other way whereby so effectually and sensibly to con­vince Atheistical Persons of the Existence of God and his Steady and All-comprehensive Providence in ruling all things. And this seems to be expres­sed by St. Jude v. 15. 16. in reciting the Prophecy [Page 77] of Enoeb, where one End of the Appearance of our Saviour with his Holy Myriads is, for the Con­viction of the [...] those wicked sin­ners who were not contented to act unrighteously but did [...] speak opprobrious and con­temp [...]uous Things of God and all Religion. Nor is this only peculiar to the Terrestrial state of life, for it is probable that many Spirits may be tainted with the same Atheistical conceits in the Aereal Regions, and may resolve all Things there like­wise into blind Chance and Fortune. Now when our Lord Jesus, according to the clear Predictions of Sacred Scripture, shall think fit to put an End to the Scene of Affairs in this lower World, and to that Purpose shall visibly descend from Heaven with an Innumerable Company of Mighty Angels, making all those Regions through which they pass bright before them with the glory and lustre of their Ce­lestial Bodies, and in this Posture shall for some time face the Earth, and after that dreadful Sen­tence pronounced upon wicked Men and the Apo­state Spirits of the Air, by his stupendious Power shall excite all the Principles of Fire both in Earth and Air, to perfect a General and Universal Con­f [...]agration of this Terrestrial World for the Punish­ment of the Rebellious Crue; this will be such an amazing and surprizing Testimony and irre [...]ragable Proof of the Immediate Hand of God, as must and will convince the most wretched and deplorable notwithstanding the Courseness and Stubbornness of their Natures, both of his Being and Provi­dence.

Pag. 47. He who after an Humble, Pious, and Attentive weighing of things, shall yet fall into Er­ror [Page 78] All Error is not alike hurtful and dangerous: For an Error may be purely and simply Involunta­ry, or it may be in respect of the cause of it Volun­tary. If the Cause of it be some Voluntary and avoi­able Fault, the Error is it self sinsul, and consequent­ly in its own Nature damnable. As if by negligence in seeking the Truth, by unwillingness to find it, by Pride, by Obstinacy, by desiring that Religi­on should be true which sutes best with my Ends, by fear of Mens ill Opinion, or any other world­ly Fear or Hope, I betray myself to any Error contrary to any Divine revealed Truth, that Error may be justly styled a sin, and Consequently to such a one of it self damnable. But if I be guilty of none of these Faults, but be desirous to know the Truth, & diligent in seeking it, and advise not at all with Flesh and Blood about the choice of my Opi­nions, but only with God and that Reason he has given me, if I be thus qualified, and yet through humane Infirmity fall into Error, that Error can­not be damnable. Thus far a great and learned Man.’ I may add, That a sober and serious Christian, who endeavours by all means to know the will and Mind of God, and so soon as he can discover it, is ready sincerely to believe and pra­ctise it, and has withal a lively sense of the Honour of God, and a hearty Good-will to Mankind, this Person through the Goodness of God shall be kept from falling into any dangerous and damnable Er­ror. But now when any Man shall carelesly neglect to use that Reason which God has given him to dis­criminate between Truth and Falshood, and shall happen to assent to Truth, not upon a due choice and discernment between it and Falshood, but [Page 79] blindly and fortuitously, this Assent is no way commendable, and an Involuntary Error after a clear and well qualified search is to be preferred before it.

I have now finished my Annotations upon this Excellent Discourse, in which I have endeavoured to illustrate and confirm such Things, as our Re­verend Author has but lightly touched, at least could not largely insist upon in that concise way of a Sermon. And this I have the more readily per­formed, because I judged a Discourse of this Nature by a Person of so extraordinary Piety, such clear Intellectuals, and so every way accomplisht as our Author was, could not prove unacceptable to any of the Lovers of Truth and Ingenuity; and like­wise that I might do Honour to his Venerable Name and Memory from whom I had the Happiness of receiving the first Rudiments of Academical Learning. This I affirm moreover (with an Hum­ble Deference to better and more inlightned Judg­ments) that such an Explication of Religion as our Reverend and Learned Author drives at, is the most likely way not only to silence the bold Cavils of Enthusiasts and Atheists, but to eradicate all carnal and sensual Doctrines and Opinions, and to bring on through the Assistance of the Mighty Spi­rit of God (whose presence is never wanting to the sincerely Conscientious) that Blessed and desirable State of the Church, the Philadelphian interval which our Lord and Saviour will all along fill with Glori­ous Manifestations of his Power and Providence.

FINIS.

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