Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

fysiosly, and øyeipeole come to be so applied, I that the measure we make use of is always affirm, that they can, with no tolerable accord short of the thing we apply to, as a finite to common sense and reason, be allowed to must needs be short of an infinite; and signify any thing else, but the repetition or sometimes also false, and thereby not only restitution of lost existence, or, in other words, short of it, but moreover disagreeable to it; the resuscitation of that which had perished it being very possible, (because indeed very before.

frequent,) that the mind of man, even with And thus much in answer to the objection its utinost sagacity, may be mistaken, and brought to prove the impossibility of a resur- judge that to imply a contradiction which rection of the same numerical body, founded really does not so. But, on the other hand, upon the continual transmutation of one body if we make the divine power the measure into another. The sum of all amounting to whereby we ought to judge what is or what this, namely, that if the transmutation of is not a contradiction, we make that a human bodies, after death, into other animate measure which we do not throughly underbodies successively, be total, the objection, stand or comprehend ; and that is contrary founded upon such a transmutation, is not to the very nature and notion of a measure ; easy to be avoided; and if, on the other side, forasmuch as that by which we would underit be not total, I cannot see how it proves, stand another thing ought to be first underthat the restitution of the same numerical stood itself. But how shall we be able to body carries in it any contradiction, nor, con understand the extent of an infinite power, so sequently, any impossibility at all. For the as to know certainly how far it can go, and point now before us depending chiefly upon where it must stop, and can go no farther ? the due stating of the object of an infinite As if we should argue thus : This or that power, if the thing in dispute be but possible, implies in it no contradiction, because God, it is sufficient to overthrow any argument that by his divine power, can effect it ; I think the would pretend to prove, that an omnipotence inference very good; but for all that it may cannot effect it. Which consideration having be replied, How do you know what an been thus offered by us, for the clearing of infinite or divine power can or cannot do? the forecited objection, we shall now proceed Certain it is, that it cannot destroy itself, or in the

put an end to its own being; and possibly Second place, to produce something, as we there may be some other things, unknown to promised, by way of positive proof for the us, which are likewise under an incapacity of evincing of a resurrection, notwithstanding all being done by it. And how, then, shall we the difficulties and repugnancies which seem govern our speculations in this arduous and to attend it. And here, since this is a point perplexing point? For my own part, I of religion, knowable only by revelation, it should think it not only the safest, but in all cannot be positively proved, or made out to respects the most rational way,

in

any doubtus any other way than by revelation, that is to ful case, where the power of Almighty God say, by what God has declared in his written is concerned, to ascribe as much to him as word 'concerning it; for natural reason and his divine nature and attributes suffer us to philosophy will afford us but little assistance do; that is to say, that we rather prescribe to in a case so extremely above both. Accor our reason from histpower, than to his power dingly, since revelation is our only competent from any rule or maxim taken up by our guide in this matter, the natural method, I

And since there is a necessity of conceive, for us to proceed by in our dis some rule or other to proceed by, in forming courses thereupon, must be this, namely, that a judgment of God's power, no less than of whereas the objection is, that the resurrection his other perfections, let Gud's word or reveof the same numerical body implies in it a lation, (in the name of all that pretends to contradiction, and therefore cannot possibly be sensible or rational,), founded upon his be, even by the divine power itself; the infallible knowledge of whatsoever he says or proper answer to this ought to be by an reveals, (and confirmed by his essential verainversion of the same terms after this manner, city inseparably attending it) be that great namely, that God has declared that he will, and rule for us to judge by ; for a better, I am therefore can, raise the same numerical body sure, can never be assigned, nor a safer relied at the last day. So that the sum of the whole upon. And accordingly, when our Saviour matter turns upon this point, to wit, whether was to answer the Sadducees, disputing upon that which we judge to be or not to be a this very subject, the resurrection, le argues contradiction, ought to measure the extent of not from any topic of common reason or the divine power; or, on the other side, the natural philosophy, but wholly from the divine power to determine what is or is not power of God, as declared by the word of God. to be accounted by us a contradiction. And Do ye not therefore err," says he, (Mark, the difficulty on either side seems not incon xii. 24,) “ because ye know not the Scripsiderable. For if we take the first of these tures, neither the power of God ?" or, in other methods, this inconvenience will attend it, words, the power of God, as declared in

reason.

should say,

Scripture. Our Saviour went no farther can or cannot do. As for instance, if we with them, as knowing this to have been

“ That for a body having been home to the point, and sufficient for their once destroyed, aud transmuted into other conviction. And upon the same account, human bodies, or some parts thereof succesthose remarkable passages in the evangelists sively, to be restored again, with all the parts cannot but be of mighty weight in the present of it complete, and numerically the same, is a case ; as that particularly in Matt. xix. 26, contradiction;" it is certain, however, that the and in Mark, x. 27. In both which it is contradiction here charged does not manifestly plainly and positively affirmed,-“ that with appear such from any evidence of the terms, God all things are possible ;” and yet more but is only gathered by such consequences particularly in Luke, xviii. 27, where Christ, and inferences as men form to themselves in speaking of some things accounted with men their discourses upon this subject ; and thereimpossible, tells us, " that the things impos- fore, though possibly a truth, yet can be no sible with men were possible with God.” clear proof, that it is impossible for an infinite The antithesis, we see here, is clear and full power to do that which is here supposed and enough; and yet even with inen nothing uses said to be a contradiction. But, on the other to be accounted impossible, but what is side, touching the first sort of contradictions judged by them one way or other to imply in mentioned by us, and shewing themselves by it a contradiction ; and if so, it is evident, that the immediate self-evidence of the terms; the divine power may extend to some things, these, no doubt, ought to be looked upon by which, in the judgments of men, pass for us out of the sphere or compass of omnipocontradictions; and consequently, that what, tence itself to effect; or otherwise, that old according to their judgments, implies in it a and universally received rule, namely, that the contradiction, cannot be always a just measure divine power extends to the doing of every of what is impossible for God to do. Never- thing, not implying in it a contradiction, theless, in order to the better understanding must be exploded, and laid aside by us, as of this matter, I conceive it may not be amiss utterly useless and fallacious. to distinguish here of two sorts of contradic But now, with reference to the foregoing tions.

distinction of prime and consequential con1. Such as appear immediately and self- tradictions, if it should be here asked, whether evidently so, from the very terms of the pro a coutradiction of the latter sort be not as position wherein they are expressed ; the really and as much a contradiction as one of predicate implying in it a direct negation of the former, I grant that it is, (there being vo the subject, and the subject mutually of the magis and minus in contradictions;) but neverpredicate ; so that, upon the bare understand theless, not so manifestly nor so evidently ing of the signification of the terms or parts such, uor consequently of so much force in of the proposition, we cannot but apprehend argumentation, nor equally capable of having and see the contradiction couched under them, a conclusion or inference drawn from it, as the and the utter inconsistency of the idea of one other is. For we are to observe, that, in the with the idea of the other; as if, for instance, case now before us, a contradiction is not so we should say, that light is darkness, or that much considered for what it is barely in darkness is light; or that a piece of bread itself, as for its being a medium to prove of about an inch in breadth, and of an inch something else by it; and for that reason, we in length, is a man's body of about a yard allow not the same conclusive force (though and a half in length, and of a proportionable the same reality, could it be proved) to a size in breadth : each of these propositions or consequential contradiction, which we allow assertions would import a direct and evident to a prime and self-evident one, and such as negation of the other, upon the very first shews itself to the very first view, in and by sight or hearing, without any farther exami the bare terms of the proposition whereiu it nation of them at all. But then,

is contained. 2. There is another sort of contradictions, Upon the whole matter, therefore, if by which may not improperly be termed conse true and sound reasoning I stand assured, that quential. That is to say, such as shew them God has affirmed or declared a thing, all selves, not by the immediate self-evidence of objections against the same, though never so the terms, but by consequences and deductions strong, (even reason itself, upon the strictest drawn from some known principle by human principles of it, being judge,) must of necessity ratiocination or discourse, and the judgment fall to the ground. Forasmuch as reason itself which men use to pass upon things in the cannot but acknowledge, that men of the strength and light thereof. In all which, best wit, learning, and judgment, may somesince men may be deceived, (nothing being times take that for a contradiction, which more incident to common humanity than really is not so; but still, on the other side, mistake,) such contradictions cannot be so must ow it utterly impossible for a being far relied upon, as to be taken for a perfect infinitely perfect, holy, and true, either to and sure measure of what the divine power deceive or be deceived in any thing affirmed

or attested by it. And moreover, to carry and substantially his body, how much soever this point yet something farther; if a proposi- we may apprehend it to contradict the printion be once settled upon a solid' bottom, and ciples of sense, reason, and philosophy? To sufficiently proved, it will and must continue this 1 answer, That the words here alleged, to be so, notwithstanding any after-arguments as pronounced by our Saviour, are confessedly or objections brought against it, whether we in the Holy Scripture. But that every thing can answer and clear off the said objections, affirmed by God in Scripture, is there affirmeil or no; I say, it lessens not our obligation to and intended by him, literally, properly, and believe such a proposition one jot. And if not figuratively, this I utterly deny. And the whole body of Christians, throughout all since it is agreed to by all, (and even by those places and ages, should with one voice declare, whom in this matter we contend with,) that that they could not solve the foregoing objec- many expressions in Scripture cannot be tion urged against the resurrection, and taken understood but by a figure; and since, morefrom the continual transmutation of bodies into over, I grant and assert, that every thing one another, or any other such-like arguments, affirmed by God in Holy Scripture ought to it would not abate one degree of duty lying be believed in that sense only in which it is upon them, to acknowledge and embrace the so affirmed; I will venture to allow the persaid article, as an indispensable part of their sons, who are for the literal sense of those Christian faith ; nor would they be at all the particular words against the figurative, till worse Christians, for not being able to give doomsday, to prove that the literal sense only a philosophical account or solution thereof; ought to take place here, and the figurative so long as, with a non obstante to all such to be exploded and set aside; and if they can difficulties, they steadfastly adhered to and but prove this, I shall not fail, as I said before, acquiesced in the article itself. For so far to believe and assent to the thing so proved, as I can see, this whole controversy depends whatsoever that which the world calls comupon, and ought to be determined by the mon reason and philosophy, shall or can sug. Scriptures, as wholly turning upon these two gest and offer to the contrary. points, namely, 1st, Whether a future gene And this, I hope, may suffice to have been ral resurrection be affirmed and revealed in spoken upon the second proposition assigned the Scriptures, or no? And 2dly, Whether for the prosecution of this subject, namely, the said Scriptures be the word of God? And That notwithstanding all the difficulties and if the matter stands thus, I am sure that objections alleged against the article of a none can justly pretend to the name of a general resurrection, there is yet sufficient Christian, who in the least doubts of the reason and solid ground for the belief of it. affirmative in either of these two points. From whence we should now proceed to treat And consequently, if this article stands thus of the third and last proposition, to wit, proved, all arguments formed against it, upon That a sufficiency of reason being thus given the stock of reason or philosophy, come too for the belief of the said article, all the diffilate to shake it; for 'they find the thing culties, and seeming repugnancies to reason, already fixed and proved ; and being so, it which it is charged with, do exceedingly encannot, by after-allegations, be disproved. hance the worth, value, and excellency of Since it being also a proposition wholly that belief. founded upon revelation, and the authority But this, as I reckon, having been, in effect, of the revelation upon the authority of the done by us already, and the whole matter revealer, all arguments from any thing else set in a full view, partly by clearing off the are wholly foreign to the subject in dispute ; objections pretended to be brought against it, and accordingly ought by no means to be from natural reason, in the two foregoing admitted, either as necessary proofs of it, or propositions, and partly by establishing the so much as competent objections against it. proof thereof, upon the sure basis of those For whatsoever is contrary to the word or three great attributes of God, his omniscience, affirmation of a being infinitely knowing and his omnipotence, and his essential veracity, essentially infallible, let it carry with it never all of them employed to warrant and engage so much show of truth, yet it certainly, is our assent to it; we shall now at length come and can be nothing else but fallacy and im to consider the same more particularly in posture. And upon this one ground I firmly some of the consequences deducible from it. do and ought to believe a general resurrection, Such as are these two that follow. As, though ten thousand arguments from the 1. We collect from hence the utter insuffiprinciples of natural philosophy could be ciency of bare natural religion to answer the opposed to it. But may it not then, you will proper ends and purposes which God intended say, upon the same terms, be here argued, religion for. And, that Jesus Christ (who is God blessed for 2. We infer from hence also, the diabolical ever) having expressly said of the bread in the impiety of the Socinian opinions; and partiholy sacrament, “ this is my body," we ought cularly of those relating to the resurrection. to believe the said piece of bread to be really | And liere,

1. For the first of these, the insufficiency of Christ who brought life and immortality to natural religion to answer the proper ends light through the gospel :” that is to say, which religion was designed for. This is cleared off all doubts about the immortal state most certain, that natural religion exceeds not and being of the soul, the everlasting felicities the compass of natural reason; it neither of the righteous, and the never-dying worm looks higher nor reaches farther, but both of and torments of the wicked in another world. them are commensurate to one another; and Touching all which, I affirm, that nothing it is every whit as certain, that the soul of but divine revelation could give any solid man, being the proper sent and subject of satisfaction to the minds of men, either as to religion, must needs be allowed to be immor the quid sit or the quod sit of these things ; tal; and being withal both endued with and that is to say, either by declaring the nature acted by the affections of hope and fear, that of them, what they are, or by proving the it must be supplied with objects proper and existence and being of them, that they are ; adequate to both, which yet nothing under besides, that the very expression of “ bringing an eternal happiness with respect to the one, a thing to light," must needs import its being and an eternal misery with reference to the hidden or undiscovered (at least to any conother, together with a general resurrectionsiderable purpose) before. But some possibly from the dead, to render men capable of may here farther object, that the heathens either, can possibly be. So that it is mani- could not but long before the times of our fest, from the very nature and essentials of Saviour, have had a competent knowledge of religion, supposing it perfect, that the parti- these matters. For did they not, by what culars now alleged by us necessarily do and they discoursed of the Elysian fields, intend must come up to the utmost of what they thereby to express the future blessedness of stand alleged for. But then, on the other pious and virtuous persons? And by what hand, can mere uatural reason of itself, by they taught of Styx, Acheron, and Cocytus, full evidence and strength of argument, coui- and the torments of Prometheus, Ixion, and vince us of any of the aforesaid particulars ? other famous criminals, design likewise to set As, for instauce, can it demonstrate that the forth to us the future miseries of the wicked soul is immortal? Or can it certainly prove, and flagitious ? No doubt, they meant so: that there is a future and eternal state of but still all this was built upon such weak happiness or of misery in another life? And and fabulous grounds, that the wiser sort of that, in order to it, there shall be a resurrec them did but despise and laugh at all these tion of their mortal bodies, after an utter dis- things. So that Juvenal, speaking of these solution of them into dust and ashes ? No, matters, tells us in plain terms,

“vix pueri there is nothing in bare reason that can so credunt,” that children scarce believed them; much as pretend to evince demonstratively though surely, if any thing could dispose the illy of these doctrines or assertions. And mind of men to an extravagant credulity, one wliat then can natural religion do or say would think that the age and state of childin the case ? For where the former is at a hood should. And then, as for the immorstand, the latter can go no farther; so that tality of the soul, whatsoever Plato and other there is an absolute necessity, if we would philosophers might argue in behalf thereof, have any more certain knowledge of these yet I am abundantly satisfied, that neither matters, to fetch it from revelation : foras Plato, or all of them together, have been able much as the great apostle himself assures us, to argue more close and home to this subject, in 1 Cor, ii. 9, that * eye hath not seen, nor than those wits who have lived in the ages ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of after them, have done. And yet, upon the man to conceive, what things God has pre result of all, I do not find, that any thing pared for those that love him;” nor, conse hitherto has been so clearly and irrefragably quently, (by a parity, of reason, what proved for the immortality of it, but that the iniseries he has prepared for those that hate most that can be done upon this argument is, him. And if both of them are a perfect that the soul cannot be proved, by any prinnonplus and baffle to all human understand ciple of natural reason, to be mortal. And ing, is it possible for natural reason to com that (though it does not prove so much as it prehend what the heart of man cannot con should do) is yet, I think, no inconsiderable ceive? Nothing certainly can be a grosser point or step gained; but, after all, admitting contradiction, and that in the very terms of the proof hereof to be as full and convincing it, than such an assertion. But some perhaps as we could wish, then what can natural may here say, that though natural reason, by reason say to a general resurrection from the its own strength and light, cannot give us a dead, that main article which we are now inclear and particular account what these things sisting upon ? Why, truly, nothing at all; are ; yet it may, however, be able to discover and if this be the utmost which is to be had

us, that really there are such things. But, from natural reason upon this point, I am in answer to this also, the same apostle tells sure there is no more to be had from natural us, in 2 Tim. i. 10, that it was our Saviour religion, which (to make the very best and

most of it) is nothing but reason, not assisted encouragement must the denial of eternal by revelation. But,

punishments needs be to all sorts of wicked2. The other thing, which we shall infer ness in the lives of men ! And what shall be from the foregoing particulars, is, the horrible able to restrain the progress and rage of it, in impiety of the Socinian opinions, and par the course of the world, when sinners shall be ticularly of those relating to the resurrection, told, that after all the villainies committed by and the state of men's souls after death. The them here, nothing is to be expected or feared Socinians, who have done their utmost to by them, when they have quitted this life, overthrow the credenda of Christianity, are but a total annihilation or extinction of their not for stopping there, but for giving as great persons, together with an endless continuance a blow to the agenda of it too, by subverting under the said estate? And is not this, think (if possible) those principles which are to we, a sort of eternal punishment according to support the practice of it. Amongst which, the sinner's own heart's desire? For since it I reckon one of the chief to be, the belief of so utterly bereaves him of all sense, that he those eternal torments awarded by God to can feel nothing hereafter, let him alone to persons dying in a state of sin and impeni- fear as little here. And as for the resurrectence, one of the most powerful checks to sin, tion from the dead, the same men generally doubtless, of any that religion affords ; foras- deny, that the wicked shall have any at all; much as where there is one withheld from sin it being, as they affirm, intended by God for by the hopes of those eternal joys promised in a peculiar favour and privilege to the godly, the Scripture, I dare affirm, that there are a who alone are to be the sons of the resurrechundred at least, if not more, kept from it by tion. But then, if these men find then selves the fears of eternal torments. And the reason pinched by such scriptures as that of the of this is, because those things by which the 25th of Saint Matthew, and this of my text, joys of heaven are represented to us, do by so expressly declaring a resurrection, “ both no means inake so quick and lively an impres- of the just and the unjust ;" in this case, sion upon men's minds, as those by which the some of them have another assertion to fly to, torments of hell, as they are described to us, vamely, that the wicked shall indeed be raised are found to do. I am far, I confess, from again at the last day, but immediately after affirming, that this ought to be so, but as the such a resuscitation, shall be annihilated and state of mankind now generally is, there are destroyed for ever, an assertion so intolerably but too many and too manifest proofs, that absurd, and so manifestly a scoff upon reliactually it is so. And I do not in the least gion, that none but an atheist or Socinian question, but that there are millions who (another word for the same thing) could have would readily part with all their hopes of the been so profane as even to think of it, or so future felicities which the Scripture promises impudent as to own or declare it. In fine, them, upon condition that they might be such is the diabolical impiety and the missecured from the eternal torments which it chievous influence of the foregoing opinions threateus.* And therefore, what a mighty upon the practices of mankind, and conse

quently, upon the peace and welfare of socie* They deny the torments of hell, and give this reason for it,

ties and governments, (all depending upon Quod absurdum sit, Deum irasci in æternum, et peccata creaturarum finita pænis infinitis mulctare, præsertim cum

the said practices,) that all sober and pious nulla hinc ipsius gloria illustretur." — Compendioluin Doctrinæ

minds do even groan under the very thoughts Ecclesiarum in Polonia. Likewise Ernestus Sonnerus, a noted of such foul invasions upon religion, and canSocinian, has wrote a just treatise, with this title prefixed to it, not but wonder, even to amazement, that the Demonstratio Theologica et Philosophica, Quod æterna im

maintainers of such tenets were not long since piorum supplicia non arguant Dei justitiam, sed injustitiam.

delivered over into the hands of civil justice, And if they be unjust, we may be sure, (as Dr Tillotson, in his sermon on Matthew, xxv. 46, learnedly observes,) that

to receive condign punishment by the senthere shall be no such thing. And to shew farther how in tence of the judge ; as likewise, that those dustrious these factors for the devil are to rid men's minds of who deny the divinity and satisfaction of our the grand restraint of sin, the belief of eternal torments, he sets down at the end of his Demonstration, (as he calls it,)

Saviour, explode original sin, and revive seveseveral places of Scripture, where the words eternal and for

ral of the old condemned blasphemies, have ever signify not an infinite or everlasting, but only a finite,

not, long before this, been brought under the though indefinite duration. Likewise Diodorus Camphuysen, one of the same tribe, with a frontless impudence, in a certain commune." In short, I am so far from accounting the epistle of his, requires such as should read it, “negare et authors or owners of such horrid assertions to be really ridere damnatorum pænas, et cruciatus æternos;" that is, not Christians, that I account them really the worst of men, if only to deny, but also to laugh at the eternal torments and profaneness, blasphemy, and the letting loose all sorts of punishments of the damned. And to make yet suror work, wickedness upon the world, can inake them so. For, accor(if possible,) Socinus denies the soul even a capacity of being ding to these grand agents and apostles of Satan, wicked men, tormented after a man's death.

no less than the very brutes themselves, (whose spirits also statui posse, post hanc vitam, animam, sive animum hominis they affirmn to return to God, as well as those of the other,) non ita per se subsistere, ut præmia ulla pænasve sentiat, vel being once dead, shall rise no more. And if they can but peretiam ista sentiendi sit capax, quæ mea firma opinio," &c. - suade men, that they shall die like beasts, there is no question Socinus in quinta Epistola ad Volkelium. And elsewhere ; to be made, but that most of them will be quickly brought to “ Homo, sive anima humana nihil cum immortalitate habet live like beasts too.

« Tantum id mihi videtur

« AnteriorContinuar »