« AnteriorContinuar »
in us of the Difference of Good and Evil, and the Notions we have of his Excellency and Perfection. But, if they launch out into philosophical Inquiries, and, not content to know that God is, without knowing what he is, endeavour to pry into the Nature and Manner of the Existence of the Almighty; or if, not satisfied with the moral Certainty of a future State, they want to look into the Contexture of the Soul, and to see there the natural Seeds of Immortality ; 'tis no wonder if they make shipwreck both of their Reason and their Faith at once : For this Knowledge is too high for Men. God has not given us Faculties to enable us to comprehend these Mysteries of Nature; and therefore we must always of necessity wander out of the Way, and be bewildered, when we search after them. For let any Man consider whence it is that the Difficulty of these Inquiries ariseth: 'Tis not for want of Teaching, for all the Teaching in the World will not enable Men to comprehend the Things of which they can form no Notions or Ideas. And this is the Case: The Seeds of this Knowledge are not implanted in our Nature, and therefore no Cultivation can ever produce it. There is nothing which
ever fell under the Notice of our Senses, to which the Existence and Being of God can be likened, nothing that bears any Proportion of Similitude to the natural Frame and Make of our Souls : And therefore 'tis impossible to represent these Things to the Mind of Man ; for 'tis not in the Power of
Sound of Words to create new Notions or Ideas in our Mind, or to convey new Knowledge without them. God has set Bounds to our Knowledge by limiting our Faculties, beyond which our utmost Care and Diligence, however affifted, cannot advance. Whatever Wisdom or Excellency of Knowledge may be in our Teacher, 'tis impossible he should infuse more into us than we are capable of receiving; as a Vessel can never receive more than its Measure, though it be filled out of the Sea.
This being the State and Condition of Men, it had been to little Purpose, if our blessed Lord had attempted to let them into the Knowledge of those great Secrets of Nature, which the Curious and Learned are so desirous of prying into. His Business was to instruct them in the Ways of Virtue and Holiness, to awaken their sleepy Souls and rouze their stupid Consciences to a Sense of
Goodness, to Thew them the Way to Peace and Happiness, by setting before them the Precepts of God and Nature in their true uncorrupted Purity: And this he has done, even by the Confession of his greatest Enemies, who in this part have nothing to object, but that his Laws are too good and too holy for their Observance. 'Tis the great Excellency of a Teacher to speak to the Sense and Understanding of the People;, and, whenever he rises above them, he is lost in the Clouds, and his Words are mere Air and Sound: And therefore, whatever Wisdom and Knowledge were in our blessed Saviour, 'tis Folly to expect from him any greater Degrees of either, than we are capable of comprehending. As he was our Prophet and Teacher, it was his Business to be understood; and he forbore teaching us the deep Mysteries of Nature, for the same Reason that we do not teach Children Algebra, not that we envy them the Knowledge, but that we know they are incapable of it. Instead of improving the Nature of Man, he must have destroyed it, and new-created him, to have made him capable of a clear Insight into all the Mysteries which the Curious feem desirous of knowing. And,
could he have given us all the Knowledge we thirst after, yet still the Way to Happiness would be the same, and we could do nothing to set forward our Salvation, which he has not already both instructed and enabled us to do: And therefore, as the Case stands, he has fully performed the Office of a divine Teacher, having fully instructed us in the Things which make for our Peace. If
you will press this Argument any farther, you must plead the Cause with God, and not with Christ : He has taught you all that you were capable of knowing; and you muft inquire of God, why he made you no better and no wiser. And had it not, you'll say, been better, if God had given us such enlarged Faculties, as might have enabled us to furmount all Difficulties of this kind? If you ask me, I can readily anfwer, That I had rather I were an Angel than a Man; but I know of no Right I had to be either ; and that I am either; is owing purely to the Goodness and Beneficence of my Creator. Had he left me still in the Lump of Clay out of which I was formed, he had done me no Injury, nor could any Complaint have been formed against him on my behalf. For what I have, I have Reason to be thankful; I 3
for what I have not, I have no Reason to complain.
Had God indeed given us only the Faculties of Men, and required of us the Service of Angels, we might then with some Justice have lamented the unequal Weight: But now that he requires nothing of us but what we are able to perform, and what, according to our present Degree of Understanding, it is highly reasonable we should perform, it is great Perverseness to hang back for want of more Light, and a greater Capacity to understand what it is no way necessary for us to understand. Our present Faculties, if rightly applied, will lead us to a Certainty of the Being of a God, to the Knowledge of his Excellency and Perfection, and will instruct us wherein our reasonable Service to him does confift: And shall we, when we know there is an all-sufficient Being, and that it is our Duty to serve him, shall we, I say, fufpend our Duty, because we meet with great Difficulties in trying to comprehend his Nature and Manner of Existence? As weak as we are, we may assuredly know, That God will one Day judge the World in Righteousness, and reward
Man according to bis Doings: And shall we not listen