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Senses can give us no Asfurance, but that our Reason may be mistaken in it. And whenever we pass the proper Bounds of each Faculty, and judge of the Difficulties concerning the Objects belonging to one Faculty, by abstracted Notions belonging to another we must necessarily fall into Error and Confusion. And therefore this must needs happen, when we reason about Objects, which we know only by Revelation, and which are the Natural and Proper Objects of none of our Faculties.
There are proper Notions and Maxims, which belong to the several Natures and Kinds of things, and these must of necessity fail us, when they are used about things of another Nature. Thus if a Man should judge of Sounds by his Idea's of Colours, or of Colours by his Notions of Sounds, he might multiply Contradi&tions without end : and yet these are not more different, than sensible Objects are from insensible, and material from immaterial. God may see it fitting to reveal such things to us, as are above our Understandings, but then we must be contented to take his Word for the Truth of them, and not apply our Principles and Maxims taken from things of an infe-. riour Nature, to things of which we can have no Conception but from Revelation : which would be as absurd, as for a deaf Man to apply the Notion which he has of Colours to Sounds; or for a blind Man to fancy, that there is no such thing as Colours, because he is told they cannot be heard.
And there must be a due proportion between the Faculty and its Object. For the Faculties both of our Bodies and Minds are confined and limited in their Exercise about their several Objects. The Parts of Matter may be too small and fine to be any longer difcern’d or perceiv'd by Sense. For only Bodies which are so big as to reflect a dne Quantity of Rays to the Eye, can be perceiv'd by the Sight it self
, the quickest and subtilest of all our Senses. And as Objects in
their Bulk are sensible, but are insensible in their minute Parts ; so it is in the inward Sensations or Perceptions of the Mind in respect of its Objects. We may puzzle and perplex our selves in the Deductions, which may be made from the most common Notions. Nothing is more certain and familiar to our Minds than our own Thoughts. That we Think, and Understand, and will, we all know ; but what is the Principle and Subject of Thought in us, and how our Understanding and will act upon, and determine each other, is matter of perpetual Dispute.
The Sum of this Argument is, that our Faculties are finite, and of no very large Extent in their Operations, but are confined to certain Objects, and limited to certain Bounds and Periods.
and Periods. Both our Natural and Acquired Knowledge is conversant about certain kinds of Obje&s, and our Faculties are fitted and suited to them, and from the Properties and Affections which we obfcrve in them, we form Notions, and make Conclusions, and raise Maxims and Axioms. Now if we apply our Natural Notions to things which we know only bý Revelation, we must be very liable to great Mistakes about them. For thus it is in things not so much out of the Reach of our Capacities, and which are not of a :spiritual Nature ; if we frame speculative and abftra&. Idea's from the Principles and Maxims which are for m'd in our Minds from sensible objects, we may foon puzzle our felves, and seem to demonstrate Contradi ētions; which demonstrates only, that all Argumze nts of this nature are vain and unconcluding. And therefore it must be abfurd to reject the Mysteries of Religion, because they will not conie under the Rules of Logick and Philosophy, when they are acknowledg’d to be incomprehensible, and therefore not to be judg'd of as to the Manner and Nature of them by the Rules and Principles of Humane Scieiices.
What has been here alledg'd concerning the Contradictions about the Divisibility of Matter is no more than has been generally confess’d by the best Philosophers and Mathematicians. And the excellent M' Boyle, having produced the Testimony of Galileo and Des Cartes upon this Subject, concludes with this Observation. If then such bold and piercing Wits, And such excellent Mathematicians, are forced to confess, that not only their own Reason, but that of Mankind, may be pass'd and non-plui'd about Quantity, which is an 06ject of Contemplation, Natural, nay Mathematical, and which is the Subject of the rigid Demonstrations of pure Mathematicks; why should we think it unfit to be believ'd, and to be acknowledg’d, that in the Attributes of God, who is essentially an infinite Being, and an Ens fingularisimum, and in divers other Divine things , of which mę can have no knowledge without Revelation, there should be some things, that our finite Understandings cannot, es pecially in this Life, clearly comprehend ?
II. Every Man believes and has the Experience of several things, which in the Theory and Speculative Notion of them, would seem as incredible, as any thing in the Scriptures can be suppos'd to be. It was well observ'd by Quintilian, and may be observ'd by any one that will consider it, that very many things are true, which scarce seem credible, and as many are false, which have all the Appearance of Truth ; and yet the Cause of Unbelief in matters of Religion is chiefly this, that we are hardly brought to believe 2ny thing possible to be done, which we never saw done, and judge of things not froin any Principle of Reason, but from our own Experience, and make th the Measure of what is pollible to be, not considering that many things may be altogether as poslible, which
. Considerat. about the Reconcileableness of Reason and Religion, $ 2.
Sunt enim plurima vera quidem, sed parum credibilia ; ficut falsa quoque frequenter verifimdia, Quintil. Ir.fticut. l. iv. c. 2.
we never knew done, and that we should think
many things impossible, of which we have the daily Experience, if we had never seen nor known them to be. For what we have the daily Experience of, we are apti. to think very easy, and scarce suspect that there can. be any Difficulty in it, but frame to our selves some kind of account of it, and please our selves perhaps with a Conceit that we perfe&tly understand it, and conclude , that such and such things must needs come to pass, from the Causes which we assign. For when a thing is common and familiar to us, we either take no Pains at all to consider the Nature of it, or when we do observe and consider it, being ashamed to confess our own Ignorance, we persuade our felves, that there is no such great Difficulty in it, but fancy we understand the true Reason and Cause of it. And if it were not for the carelesness of some in not minding the wonderful Effects of Nature, and the Pride of others in fancying that they are ignorant of nothing, which is the constant Object of their Senses, I am perfuaded that there are several things in the World, which we daily fee and experience, that would seem
see as wonderful almost as the Resurrection it self, or any Mystery in Religion. The greatest Philosophers have been able to give but a very imperfect account of the most ordinary and obvious things in Nature, and if we had only a Relation of them without any Trial or Experience, we should be inclin'd to conclude them impossible. The King of Siam, it is said, would not believe the Dutch Ambassador
, , but thought himself affronted, when he was told by him, that in Holland, Water would become so hard in cold Weather , that Men or Elephants might walk upon it, and the Relations of things in those Countries, would have seem'd
* Quis enim Æthiopas antequam cerneret, crediditt? Aut quid non miraculo est, cum primùm in notitiam venic? Quàm mulca fieri non pofle, priufquam sunt facta , judicantur ? Plin. Nat. Hift. 1. vii. C. I.
as strange to us, if the constant Report of Men, who have been there, had not made them familiar to us. It was formerly disheliev'd, nay absolutely deny'd, as absurd and impossible, that there could be any such place, as that which is now known by the Name of America, or that the Torrid and Frigid Zones could be habitable : No Mystery in Religion can seem more incredible to any Man, than these things did appear even to Wise and Learned Men, and if they had not been found to be true by Navigation, they might have seem'd incredible still, for ought we can tell, though now we wonder at the Ignorance of former times, that they should make any doubt of them, and admire how they came to lie so loug unknown ; for these things seem obvious, when they are once discover'd, and it would be a Disparagement to us, if we could not make as great Discoveries at home, as those do, who travel to the Indies. And if we will but consider a little with our felves, we shall find that we may be at least as much mistaken in our Philosophy about the things of another World, as our Ancestors were, for so many Ages, concerning so much of this, and shall conceive it very possible , that there may be a Heaven and a Hell, though we never spoke with any body, that had been in either of those places ; and that there may be a Trinity and a Resurrection, tho’ we were able to give no account of them. For Nature it self exceeds our Comprehension, and therefore the Divine Essence, and the Almighty Power of God must needs much more exceed it.
The Motion of the Heavens, and of the Winds and Seas, the Light of the Sun and Moon and Stars, the Conception and Birth of all Creatures, nay the Growth of Corn, and of the very Grass of the Field, and all the most obvious and inconsiderable Produtions of Nature, have so many wonderful Difficulties in the Explication of them, that if we were not mightily inclin'd to flatter our felves, I am afraid we should