Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

. may signify, according to the Idiom of the English Tongue, to discover or reveal a Thing which was perfectly unknown before : But the Word in the Original is fo far from countenancing, that it will hardly admit of this Sense. The Greek runs thus ; OwT1OUITOS δε ζωήν και αφθαρσίαν. Now φωτίζει fignites (not to bring to Light, but) to enlighten, illustrate, or clear up any thing. You may judge by the Use of the Word in other Places: 'Tis used in John i. 9. That was the true Light, which lighteth (or enlighteneth) every Man that cometh into the World; ο φωτίζει πάντα ανθρωπον. Jefus Chrift did not by coming into the World bring Mento Light; but he did by the Gospel enlighten Men, and make those, who were dark and ignorant before, wise even to Salvation. In like manner our Lord did enlighten the Doctrine of Life and Immortality, not by giving the first or only Notice of it, but by clearing up the Doubts and Difficulties under which it laboured, and giving a better Evidence for the Truth and Certainty of it, than Nature or any Revelation before had done. There is one Place more where our Translators render the original Word as they have done in the Text: i Cor. iv. 5, Therefore judge nothing before the Time, until the

Lord

Lord come, who both will bring to Light the bidden Things of Darkness, and will make manifest the Counsels of the Hearts ; and theni fhall every Man have Praise of God. But in this place it had been more properly rendered, who will cast Light upon the hidden Things of Darkness; and, fo rendered, it better suits what follows, and will make manifest the Counsels of the Heart. The hidden Things of Darkness, which shall be brought to Light at the Coming of the Lord, are the Actions and Practices of wicked Men; which, though they are of a certain and determinate Nature, are yet hard to judge of, because we cannot discern the Springs and Motives from whence they arise: Perfectly unknown to us they are not ; if they were, there was no Occasion for the Apostle tor forbid us judging of them; for Men do not, cannot judge at all of Things which do not at all fall under their Notice: But they are so dark and obscure, that 'tis hard to judge rightly of them; and therefore 'tis but prudent to suspend our Sentence till the Day comes which will make all Things clear, which will hold fuch a Light to these hidden Things of Darkness, that we shall manifestly discern them, and be able to view them on every Side. So that, in this Cafe,

the hidden Things of Darkness are not fupposed to be perfectly unknown, but only to be fo dark and involved, that we cannot fafely pass our Judgment on them; and to bring them to Light imports no more than to set them in a clear Light, and to make them plain and manifest to the Eyes of all the World. According to the Use then of the original Word, to bring Life and Immortality to Light fignifies to illustrate and make plain this great Doctrine of Religion, to difpel the Doubts and Uncertainties in which it was involved, and to give evident Proof and Demonstration to the World of the Certainty of a future Life and Immortality.

The Text, thus explained, leaves us at Liberty to make the best both of the Evidence of Nature- and of Moses for a future Life and Immortality, and asserts nothing to the Gospel but this Prerogative, That it has given a surer and fuller Proof of this fundamental Article, than ever the World before was acquainted with. The true Point then now before us, and which takes in the whole View of the Text, is, to consider the Evidence which Mankind had for the Doctrine of Immortality before the Coming of Christ, and the Evidence which the Gospel now affords; and to thew where the former

Evidence

ܪ

Evidence failed, and how it is supplied by the latter.

It would take up too much Time to examine minutely the several Arguments for the Immortality of the Soul, which are to be found in the Writings of Heathen Authors; nor would it perhaps answer the Purpose of our present Inquiry: For the natural Evidence in this Case is not so much to be estimated by the Acuteness of this or that Writer, as by the common Sense and Apprehension of Mankind: And this, and all other Opinions which have any Pretension to derive themselves from Nature, owe their Authority, not to the abstracted Reasonings of any School, but to some general Sense and Notion which is found in all Men, or to some common and uncontroverted Maxim of Reason. The Unbelievers of this Age have abused their Time and Pains in their Endeavours to expose the natural Evidence of Immortality, by confronting the different Sentiments of the antient Philosophers, and by shewing their Uncertainty and Inconsistency: For what if Plato, if Aristotle, if Tully, are inconsistent with one another, or, with themselves, in their abstracted Arguings upon this point? What is this to the Evidence of Nature, which is not the single

Opinion

Opinion of Plato, or any other Philosopher, but the united Voice of all Mankind ? This was the common Belief of the World, derived from some common Sense, or Principle of Reason, before any Philosopher had so much as thought of an abstracted Reason for the Proof of it: And, had not the common Sense of Nature dictated this Truth to them, I am very confident the philosophical Reasons had never been thought of. That the common Belief and Persuasion was the Foundation of the philosophical Inquiry, is evident from hence, That all the antient Writers upon this Subject appeal to the common Notion and Consent of Mankind, as one great Argument for the Truth of the Doctrine: Which certainly proves this at least, That the World was possessed of this Belief long before they were Writers, or ever the philosophical Reasons were thought of. If the Notion was common, that alone is a fufficient Proof that it did not arise from abstracted Reasoning; for no common Opinion ever did, or ever can: And the Reason is plain; for a common Opinion is that which is received by the generality of Men, who never were, who never will be, capable of attending to abstracted Reason. Now this

0

natural

;

« AnteriorContinuar »