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Secondly, The Difficulties which arise in considering the natural Properties of Things, do no way affect the Certainty, and Reality of their Existence: If they did, we could be certain of the real Existence of no one Thing; since there is nothing but what affords us very great Difficulties, when we come to account for the Nature and Properties of it. Let what will be the Subject, I think, there cannot be two more different Inquiries, than when we examine whether the Thing really is, and when we examine what it is: They are Inquiries which do not at all depend one upon the other. We can examine the Properties of some Things, without so much as reflecting whether there ever were such Things, or no. When the Mathematician considers the Properties of an exact Circle or Square, it matters him not whether there be such perfect Figures in the World, or no; nor does he trouble himself to inquire. So, on the other hand, we can examine and come to the Certainty of the Existence of Things, without knowing, or attempting to know, their Natures and Properties. The Peasant knows there is a Sun and a Moon, as well as the Astronomers ; and his Certainty, as to their Existence, is
as great and as well-grcunded as theirs. Nor is this only true in Things which are Objects of Sense, but will hold likewise with respect to such Things, the Existence of which we collect from Reason. From visible Effects to invisible Causes the Argument is conclusive; though in many Cases it extends only to the Reality of the Cause, and does not in the least lead us to the Knowledge of the Nature of it. When we see Distempers cured by the Use of Plants or of Drugs, fome Virtue we are sure there is in them, upon which the Effect depends, though what we seldom or never can tell. This being the Case then, That we can arrive at the Knowledge of the Existence of Things, when we are perfectly ignorant of their Natures and Properties; and can, on the other side, examine and know the Properties of Things, without considering whether they exist, or no; 'tis plain that these are distinct Acts of Knowledge, which do not depend on each other, and that we may be certain as to the Reality of Things, however we may be puzzled and confounded when we enter into the Confideration of their Nature.
And now pray consider, as to the Cafe before us, what sort of Knowledge it is that
is is nécessary to support Religion in the World. If we are sure there is a God who will judge the World, is not that a sufficient Foundation for Holiness? Does it signify any thing, as to the Neceflity of our Obedience, to inquire into the Manner or Nature of his Being? Does not the whole of Religion evidently depend on this Question, Whether there çertainly be a God who will judge the World? And, if it appears there is, is it of any Consequence to say there are great Difficulties in conceiving how these Things can be? For, if they certainly will be, they will be fome Way or other, no doubt; and it concerns not us to know which Way. Since therefore our Saviour has given the greatest Evidence that can be of the Certainty of a future State, and the Soul's Existence after Death, 'tis impertinent and unphilosophical to confront this Evidence with Difficulties arising from our Conceptions as to the Nature and Manner of these Things: It is in truth to set up Ignorance against Knowledge; for our Difficulties spring from our Ignorance of Nature, which is an Argument we ought rather to be ashamed of, than to bring into Competition with the clear Evidence wę have for the Certainty and Reality of the Things themselves. Were this duly considered, it would set the great Controversy
of Religion upon the right Foot, which - ought to turn on this single Point, Whether
there be sufficient Evidence of a future State, or no? For, if such a 'State there be, let our Conceptions concerning it be clear, or hot clear, most certainly we shall be brought to account for all we do; which is enough, I think, to make us careful what we do. And this is the main Concern of Religion, and that which will secure whatever is neçessary to it.
Since then Religion evidently depends. upon the Certainty and Reality of a future State of Rewards and Punishments, and other the like Articles, and not in the least upon the Knowledge of the Nature, or the philosophical Account of these Things; it had been absurd in our Saviour, who was a Preacher of Religion only, a Teacher sent from God, to have entered into those Difficulties, which did not at all belong to his Province. And, since neither the Practice of Religion would have received any Advantage by the Discussion of these Doubts, for, if we had the Knowledge of Angels, and faw the Heavens as plainly as they do, yet
the same Virtue and Holiness, without any Change, would be necessary to carry us thither; nor the Motives of Religion would have gained any new Strength, since the Evidence for the Reality of a future State is not affected by these Doubts; it is ridiculous 'to expect the Solution of them in the Gospel, when, if solved, they would not serve any one Point in which the Gospel is concerned, but would end in mere Philosophy and Speculation.
But perhaps it may be said, That all this is true indeed, where the Existence of Things is out of doubt: In that Case no Difficulties · can destroy the Evidence of their Existence. But, where the Existence of Things is doubtful, there the seeming Contradictions which arise in considering the Nature of the Things, do mightily shake the Presumption of their Existence. This is a fair State of the Case, and we ought to join Issue on it.
Let us then proceed, in the third Place, to shew, That the Gospel has given us the greatest Evidence of our own Immortality, and of a future State, that can be thought on or desired. There are two Things upon which our Resurrection to Life depends, as we learn from our Saviour's Answer to the