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ny appeals to the fehses of men; but this is a ftrange new kind of miracle, which is perfectly invisible. To tay, thắt it itrust be received by faith, that we muft believe it to be a miracles is to destroy the very end and design of thiracles ; which are works done, in order to procure the belief of somewhat elfe; and are not therefore themselves to be believed, and taken for ganted. In a word, it is a miracle, the doing of which is fo utterly a fecret, that it wants another miracle to prove it to be one. And yet of all things in the world, it is the most incapable of being proved this way; for miracles being, as I'faid, appeals to our senses, and tranfubftantiation a plain contradiction to them; the railing in of a miracle to evince the truth of this doctrine would be (as one very justly reasons) " to prove to a man by " whát he fees, that he doth not fee what he fees.” Either therefore the pretended corporal presence js no miracle ; or, if it be one, we are still excufable in not admitting it, fince it comes to us in a way so very singular, and demands our affent a. gainst the testimony of fenle, upon the reports of which all other miracles are founded Again,
4. Fourthly, the doctrine discoursed of teaches us likewise to reject all pretences to the spirit, to priv te visions and inward illuminations, by which enthusiastical or designing men endeavour tò eftablish their own particular opinions, and to give them a sacred authority. Sliould these strange things they tell us, be true ; yet they are transacted privately, between God and their own fouls, and cannot therefore reasonably be made a foundation for the public reception of any doctrine, or
opinion: opinion: [For whenever God intends to establish anything openly, he gives open proof and evi dence of it; his notice reaches always as far as he delighs to extend his revelation; and they therefore, who have no sure sign or notice that a truth is revealed, cannot, in reason, be obliged to entertain it. Thus it would be, I say, fuppofing thefe visions, and revelations alledged, were really true ; whereas we have indeed the best ground in the world for suspecting them to be false ;] lince it is evidently contrary to all the divine methods of acting, with which we are acquainted, that God should give a man a commission to publish a *Dew doctrine, and not give him wherewithal to manifest the authority of his commission to others. “ If I bear witness of myself, my witnels is not true," John ii. 31. fays our Saviour; it is probably not true in itself, it is certainly not neceffary to be embraced as true, by those to whoin I propose it; and therefore it follows, “The works that I do, they bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me,' ver. 36. The miracles which a man performs, are the only convincing arguments of his being infpired; and his own affirmation in this case, when divested of thefe proofs, let it be never fo peremptory, cannot reasonably induce a belief of what he affirms.
Thus (for instance) when the dispute was in the church of Rome between the two orders of
F-ancifcans aud Dominicans, about the immaculate conception; one side had visions and revela. - tions for it, and the other side had visions and revelations against it; but neither side thought themselves obliged to take word of the other ;
and the rest of the world, that stood by, did not think themselves obliged to take the word of either; but believed or disbelieved the immaculate conception, according as reason, fcripture, and the authority of tradition seemed to determine them, and not according to the proportion of visions and revelations, vouched for, or again& it.
5. It will be yet a fifth improvement of what hath been laid down, to observe from hence, how it comes to pass, that miracles have been so long discontinued, and do rarely, very rarely, appear in these latter ages of the world. They were performed at first in so conspicuous, exuberant, and convincing a manner, as to render a continual repetition of the same proofs utterly needless. Had indeed these first evidences of a divine power been displayed before a few only, or before many, but suspected witnesses, it might have been requisite perhaps to repeat them often in succeding times ; (as often perbaps as any fingle convert to Christianity was to be made :) But be. ing originally wrought, as you have heard, in the face of the fun, before a whole nation of witnerses, and those witneffes enemies; the certainty of them was so well established, and transmitted to after-ages; as that no fair, impartial consideror should be able to doubt of it'; and such an one, having no reason to dispute the truth of former miracles, could have no reason, no occasion, to demand new ones. God governs the moral world, as he doth the natural. He made it indeed and ordered it, at first, by miracle ; but he fteers and conducts the affairs of it ever since,
by standing rules and laws, and by the ordinary ministry of second caufes. And thus he establish ed the truth of his revelation, at the beginning, by miracle; but, that being once done, he suffers things now to go on in their regular course without offering every day motives of the same kind to men, but appealing to those which he hath proposed already ; which he knows to be fufficient, and knows also, that if they do not fuffice, no others will; according to that remarkable decision of our Lord's, That such
“ hear not “ Mofes and the Prophets," (i. e reject a revelation already attested by miracles) “ would not “ be persuaded, though one arose from the dead,” Luke xvi. 31. Further,
6. Sixthly, from the general drift and tenor of the argument we have been handling, it may be justly collected, that the more any doctrine affects secrecy, and declines trials of any sort, the more seafon we have to fufpect, and to examine it: « Beloved, believe not every Spirit," (says St. John) “ but try the Spirits, whether they be of God; John iv. 11. and most particularly those fpirits, which desire to be believed without being tried : For this looks, as if they were afraid of being brought to the test; and fear generally arises from a consciousness of guilt, as the same apostle, in this very case, argues : “ Every one" (says he) ~ that doth evil, hateth the light, neither cometh “ to the light, left his deeds Thould be reproved; “ but he that doth the truth, cometh to the light, " that his deeds may be made manifeft, that they “ are wrought in God," John iii. 20. 21. This reflexion cannot but once again put us in any.
mind of those articles of the Roman Catholic Faith, by which it stands distinguihed from the faith of all other Christians. We are not allowed to doubt of them, or to reafon upon them. They are to be received implicitly, without any particular difcuflion and enquiry : From the great doctrine of infallibility they proceed, and into that they are finally resolved : “ As the rivers run into the " fea, into the place from whence the rivers come, Is thither do they return again.” Eccles. i, 7. And how can that which hath the stamp of unerring authority upon it, become the proper fubject of any man's private debates and reasonIngs? Now this is the greatest prejudice imaginable against the truth of the doctrines of church, or the fincerity of its preptences: For it what it propofeth to us be true and reasonable, why should it decline the examination and judgment of reason? If all be pure gold, without alloy, how comes it thus to fly the touchstone? 'Tis the property of error only to sculk and hide its head; but truth, we know, is open and barefaced ; like our first parents, in the state of innocence and happiness, “ Naked, but not alham.
ed." And therefore, though it be very, unreafonable in the church of Rome to impose her doctrines upon us, without allowing us to exainine them ; yet it is not unreasonable in us to reject thefe doctrines, thus proposed, even without cxamination
The fame may be faid of those wild opinions fet up by fanaticks and enthusiasts, as dictates of the Spirit, and which they will suffer to be tried by the Spirit only, not by the dead letter of