Page images
PDF
EPUB

Men. Those commonly that raise Objections against the Scriptures, are as confident in the management of them; as if they understood all things besides, and therefore conclude, that must needs be false, which they do not understand; not considering, how very reasonable it is to suppose, that God should command and reveal many things, the Natures and Reasons of which we may not be able to comprehend. This muft be granted by every Man who believes God to be infinitely wise, but doth not think himself to be fo, and acknowledgeth God's Sovereignty over him. For as he is infinitely wise, he may reveal things above our Capacities; and as he is the supream Lord and Governour of the World, he may command us what in his infinite Wisdom he shall see fitting, tho’we may not perceive the Reason and Design of it. And yet this is the utmost, that, upon a due Examination, many of the Objections against the Authority of the Scriptures amount to, that there are several things in them, of which some Men' think no clear account can be given, and others, which seem to them unworthy of God.

Now, what is the meaning of this way of objecting? and where lies the force of such Arguments but in this, that it is not to be conceived, that God would reveal or command any thing, with which they are not satisfied, or which they cannot perfe&tly widerstand? This is all the streagth of this sort of Objections. There is all the Reason in the World to believe the Scriptures to be the Word of God, if they did not contain things, which these Men in their great Wisdom think should not be there, if they were his Word; which is to make their own Understanding the measure and Criterion of Divine Revelation. And some have turned Scepticks for as good reasons, and others have been Atheists upon the same Principles; finding as much fault with the System of the World, and the order and contrivance of the Parts of it, as

[ocr errors]

a

the Deist doch with the Scriptures ; they have renounced all Belief of a God, upon the same grounds upon which he disbelieves the Christian Religion. Tơ convince Men therefore of the Narrowness and Weakness of Humane Reason, I shall shew, I. That in some things, each side of a Contradiction seems to be demonstrable. II. That every Man believes and experiences several things which in the Theory and Speculative Notion of them, would seem as incredible as any thing in the Scriptures can be supposed to be. III. That those who reject the Mysteries of Religion, must believe things much more incredible.

I. In some things, each side of a Contradi&tion seems to us demonstrable. Several instances might be given of this. I Mall instance only in the divisibility of Matter. Nothing seems more evident than that divifibility is essential to Matter, and that therefore all Matter is divisible, so that the least part of Matter is as divisible as the biggest, because the least Particle of Matter is Matter, that is, it is of the fame Nature and Ellence with the whole: and all Matter differs only in Bulk, or Figure, or Place, or Rest, or Motion. It being then of the Nature of Matter to be divisible, it must ever be divisible, tho it be never so often divided; since it can never be so divided, as to lose its own Nature, or cease to be Matter. On the other side, it is demonstrable that Matter cannot be infinitely divisible; because, whatever is divisible is divisible into Parts, and no Parts can be infinite, be'cause no Number can be fo. For all Number is neces. sarily in it self capable of being counted or numbred, tho'no Finite Being may be able to number it; a numberless Number is a contradiction, it is a Number which is no Number : therefore all Number must be even or odd, and must be capable of Addition and Substraction, which is contrary to the Nature of Infinite. For what is less or greater, has certain bounds or limits, and therefore cannot be infinite, or with

B 2

out

[ocr errors]

out any end or bounds. Matter therefore cannot be divisible in Infinitum, fince all Division is into Parts, and all Parts are capable of being numbred, that is, they are more or fewer, even or odd. And it will not susfice to say, that Matter can never actually be divided into infinite Parts, tho' it be capable of infinite Division, so as that there can be no end of its divisibility. For the Parts into which it is divisible, must be actually existent, tho'nct actually divided : for nothing can be divisible into Parts which it hath not, and all Parts actually existent, whether they be divided, or only divisible, are capable of being numbred, or must have a determinate Number, and therefore cannot be Infinite. But to say that these Parts of Matter are indefinite, but not infinite, is only to confess, that we know not what to say of them : for they are indefinite in respect to us, not in their own Nature ; we cannot determine their Number, or what End there can be of dividing them ; but this is an Argument of our own Ignorance, and proves nothing as to the nature of the thing.

Again, nothing is clearer to every Understanding, than that all the Parts into which the whole is divided, being taken together, are equal to the Whole: yet it seems many ways demonstrable, that any single Part is equal to the Whole. I shall give but one such Proof of this, as may be most obvious. It must be granted, that in any Circle a Line may be drawn from every Point of the Circumference to the Center. Suppose then the Circle to be the Æquator, or a Line drawn round the Globe of the Earth, and that Ten thousand lesler Circles are drawn within the Æquator round the same Center, and that a right Line is drawn from every Point of the Æquator to the Center of the Globe; every such Right Line drawn from the Æquator to the Center, must of neceslity cut thro' the Ten thousand lesler Circles drawn about the same Center, and consequently there must be the same number of Points in a Circle ten thousand times less than the Æquator, that there is in the Æquator it self. And because there may be a Circle drawn from any point of the Diameter, the lesler Circles may be multiply'd to as many as there are points in the Diameter , which are innumerable ; and therefore the least Circle imaginable may by this Demonstration have as many points as the greatest, that is, it may be as big as the greatest, or as big as one never so many thousand times bigger than it self. For all the Lines drawn from the utmost Cireumference, terminate in the Center, which proves that the Center, or the least Circle imaginable Immediately next to it, must be equal to the Circumference never so much bigger than it. For to answer, that the lesler Circles have as many points, but not so big as the greatest, is against the Supposition, because I suppose a Line drawn from every one of the least points of the greatest Circle, through the least Circle to the Center, and the least points in the greatest Circle must be as small as any in the least Circle , there being nothing in the nature of Circlés or Points to hinder it, and every Line passing from the Circumference to the Center, is supposed to be of the same bigness in all its parts, and therefore all the Points of Intersection must be equal with those in the Circumference.

This proves, that we may lose our felves in the Speculation of Material things : for when we once abstract them froni Sense, and consider them in the Theory, they become inexplicable : Because our Faculties were never design'd for such Speculations, and are not made for them, nor are capable of them, at least in this mortal state. But this is no Argument, that our Senses rightly dispos’d, and in due Circumstances, may deceive us in things, which are the Objects of Sense, or that we may be deceiv'd in trusting to them. Because what is the object of Sense , is the proper Object for us to judge of by Notions deriv'd from our Senses, or by the Informations which we receive from them. Our Faculties were design'd not for mere Speculation and Curiosity about matters , which perhaps it is impollible for us Creatures fully to comprehend, but for our Use and Welfare : they were design’d to prevent our being deceiv’d in things which are the Objects of Şense; and therefore all the Absurdities, which are charged upon the Do&rine of Transubstantiation, are truly urged, because they are concerning an Object of Sense; and all such Maxims, as the fart is less than rhe Whole, &c. must hold true, when they are apply'd to Objects of Sense, tho' it be past our únderfindings to conceive, how they mould be applicable to things, which do not fall under the Perception of our Senses; for these Notions were implanted in us, to guide and direct us in the Course of this life ; and we must rely upon them, when they are apply'd only to their proper Objects, rather than upon wily Speculations, which are too nice and high for our Conctptions. And it is as absurd to believe what contradicts our Seases in an object of Sense, aş to extend these Maxims to Objects which are insensible, and only in Idea.

from

B-3

The seeming Demonstration of these, and such like Contradictions, arises fram the applying of the Maxims taken from Physical and Material things, to Mathematica Ideas, which are in the Mind only, and have no Existence in the Nature of things. And the fame Abfurditie-, may be started upon any other Subjeći, by contounding the several Notions and Properties of things of different Natures. That the whole is greater than Part of it, is a Physical Axiom , and obvious to Sense; but that Lines are form'd by indivibble Points, is purely Mathematical Speculation, and the work of Reason. So again, that Matter is divisible, is an object of Sense; but, that Divisibility is in separable from Matter, is mere Speculation, and a Deduction which is made from Sense ; of which our

Senses

1

« PreviousContinue »