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purpose, if God, in his providence, doth not send you some other instructor.” And in his Epinomis he says,
- Let no man take
upon him to teach, if God do not lead the way.” $ 33. In the book De Mundo, ascribed to Aristotle, we have a remarkable passage to this effect: “ It is an old tradition, almost universally received, that all things proceeded from God, and subsist through him; and that no nature is self-sufficient, or independent of God's protection and assistance.” In his metaphysics, he ascribes the belief of the gods, and of this, that the Deity compasses and comprehends all nature, to a tradi tionary habit of speaking, handed down from the first men to after ages. Cicero, in his treatise concerning the nature of the gods, introduces Cotta blaming those who endeavoured by argumentation, to prove there are gods, and affirming that this only served to make the point doubtful, which by the instructions and traditions of their forefathers, had been sufficiently made known to them, and established. Plutarch, speaking of the worship paid to a certain ideal divinity, which his friend had called in question, says, “ It is enough to believe pursuant to the faith of our ancestors, and the instructions communicated to us in the country where we were born and bred ; than which, we can neither find out nor apply, any argument more to be depended on."
§ 34. It will be further useful to observe, that the thoughts of men, with regard to any internal law, will be always mainly influenced by their sentiments concerning the chief good. Whatsoever power or force may do, in respect to the outward actions of a man, nothing can oblige him to think or act, as often as he is at liberty, against what he takes to be his chief good or interest. No law, or system of laws, can possibly answer the end and purpose of a law, till the grand question, what is the chief happiness and end of man, be determined, and so cleared up, that every man may be fully satisfied about it.
Before our Saviour's time, the world was infinitely divided on this important head. The philosophers were miserably bewildered in all their researches after the chief good. Each sect, each subdivision of a sect, had a chief good of its own, and rejected all the rest. They advanced as Varro tells us, no fewer than 288 opinions in relation to this matter ; which shows, by a strong experiment, that the light of nature was altogether unable to settle the difficulty. Every man, if left to the particular bias of his own nature, chooses out a chief good for himself, and lays the stress of all his thoughts and actions on it. Now, if the supposed chief good of any man should lead him, as it often does, to violate the laws of society, to hurt others, and act against the general good of mankind, he will be very unfit for society; and consequently as he cannot subsist out of it, an enemy to himself.
35. If Christianity came too late into the world, what is called natural religion came full as late ; and there are no footsteps of natural religion, in any sense of the words, to be found at this day, but where Christianity hath been planted. In every place else, religion hath no conformity with reason or truth. So far is the light of nature from lending sufficient assistance. It is strange, that the natural light should be so clear, and yet darkness so great, that in all unassisted countries the most monstrous forms of religion, derogatory to God, and prejudicial to man, should be contrived by some, and swallowed by the rest, with a most voracious credulity. I could wish most heartly, that all nations were Christians; yet, since it is otherwise, we derive this advantage from it, that we have a standing and contemporary demonstration of that which nature, left to herself, can do. Had all the world been Christians for some ages past, our present libertines would insist, that Christianity had done no service to mankind; that nature could have sufficiently directed herself; and that all the stories told, either in sacred or profanc history, of the idolatry and horrible forms of religion in ancient times, were forged by Christian priests, to make the world think revelation necessary, and natural reason incapable of dictating true and right notions of religion. But, as the case stands at present, we have such proofs of the insufficiency of unassisted reason in this behalf, as all the subtility of libertines is unable to evade.
§ 36. All that the Grecians, Romans, and present Chinese, know of true religion, they were taught traditionally. As to their corrupt notions and idolatries, they were of their own invention. The Grecians, who were by far the most knowing people of the three, were as gross idolaters as the rest, till Plato's time. He travelled into the east, and ran higher towards truth in his sentiments of religion than others : but still worshipped the gods of his country, and durst not speak out all he knew. However, he formed a great school, and, both through his writings and scholars, instructed his countrymen in a kind of religious philosophy, that tended much more directly and strongly to reformation of manners, than either the dictates of their own reason, or of their other philosophers. All the philosophy of the Gentile nations, excepting that of Socrates and Plato, was derived from the source of self-sufficiency. Only these two acknowledge the blindness of human nature, and the necessity of a divine instructor. No other Heathen philosopher founded bis morality on any sense of religion, or ever dreamt of an inability in man to render himself happy.*
* Prom $ 14—$ 36, is chiefly out of “ Deiem Revealed,” second edition,
The Insufficiency of Reason as a Substitute for Revelation.
§ 1. By reason, I mean that power or faculty an intelligent being has to judge of the truth of propositions; either immediately, by only looking on the propositions, which is judging by intuition and self-evidence; or by puting together several propositions, which are already evident by intuition, or at least whose evidence is originally derived from intuition.
Great part of Tindal's arguing, in his Christianity as old as the Creation, proceeds on this ground, That since reason is the judge whether there be any revelation, or whether any pretended revelation be really such ; therefore reason without revelation, or undirected by revelation, must be the judge concerning each doctrine and proposition contained in that pretended revelation. This is an unreasonable way of arguing. It is as much as to say, that seeing reason is to judge of the trnth of any general proposition, therefore, in all cases, reason alone, without regard to that proposition, is to judge separately and independently of cach particular proposition implied in, or depending and consequent upon, that general proposition. For, whether any supposed or pretended divine revelation be indeed such, is a general proposition: and the particular truths delivered in and by it, are particular propositions implied in, and consequent on, that general one. Tindal supposes each of these truths must be judged of by themselves, independently of our judging of that general truth, that the revelation that de. clares them is the word of God; evidently supposing, that if each of these propositions, thus judged of particularly, cannot be found to be agreeable to reason, or if reason alone will not show the truth of them ; then, that general proposition on which they depend, viz. That the word which declares them is a divine revelation, is to be rejected : which is most unreasonable, and contrary to all the rules of common sense, and of the proceeding of all mankind, in their reasoning and judging of things in all affairs whatsoever.- For this is certain, that a proposition may be evidently true, or we may have good reason to receive it as true, though the particular propositions that depend upon it, and follow from it, may be such, that our reason, independent of it, cannot see the truth, or can see it to be true by no other means, than by first establishing that other truth on which it depends. For otherwise, there is an end of all use of our reasoning powers; an end of all arguing one propo. sition from another; and nothing is to be judged true, but what appears true by looking on it directly and immediately, without the help of another proposition first established, on which the evidence of it depends. For therein consists all reasoning or argumentation whatsoever ; viz. in discovering the truth of a proposition, whose truth does not appear to our reason immediately, or when we consider it alone, but by the help of some other proposition, on which it depends.
§ 2. If this be not allowed, we must believe nothing at all, but self-evident propositions, and then we must have done with ail such things as arguments : and all argumentation whatsoever, and all Tindal's argumentations in particular, are absurd. He himself, throughout his whole book, proceeds in that very method which this principle explodes. He argues and attempts to make evident, one proposition by another first established. There are some general propositions, the truth of which can be known only by reason, from whence an infinite multitude of other propositions are inferred, and reasonably and justly determined to be true, and rested in as such, on the ground of the truth of that general proposition from which they are inferred by the common consent of all mankind, being led thereto by the common and universal sense of the human mind. And yet not one of those propositions can be known to be true by reason, if reason consider them by themselves independently of that general proposition.
Thus, for instance, what numberlegs truths are known only by consequence from that general proposition, that the testimony of our senses may be depended on? The truth of numberless particular propositions, cannot be known by reason, considered independently of the testimony of our senses, and without an implicit faith in that testimony. That general truth, that the testimony of our memories is worthy of credit, can be proved only by reason; and yet, what numberless truths are there, which we know no other way, and cannot be known to be true by reason, considering the truths in themselves, or any otherwise than by testimony of our memory, and an implicit faith in this testimony? That the agreed testimony of all we see, and converse with oontinually, is to be credited, is a gene. ral proposition, the truth of which can be known only by reason. And yet how infinitely numerous propositions do men receive as truth, that cannot be known to be true by reason, viewing them separately from such testimony ; even all occurrences, and matters of fact, persons, things, actions, works, events, and circumstances, that we are told of in our neighbourhood, in our own country, or in any other part of the world that we have not seen ourselves.
§ 3. That the testimony of history and tradition is to be depended on, when attended with such and such credible circumstances, is a general proposition, whose truth can be known only by reason. And yet, how numberless are the particular truths concerning what has been before the present age, that cannot be known by reason considered in themselves, and
separately from this testimony, which yet are truths on which all mankind do, ever did, and ever will rely?
That the experience of mankind is to be depended on; or, that those things which the world finds to be true by experience, are worthy to be judged true, is a general proposition, of which none doubt. By what the world finds true by experience, can be meant nothing else, than what is known to be true by one or other of those fore-mentioned kinds of testimony, viz. the testimony of history and tradition ; the testimony of those we see and converse with ; the testimony of our memories, and the testimony of our senses. I say, all that is known by the experience of mankind, is known only by one or more of these testimonies ; excepting only the existence of that idea, or those few ideas, which are at this moment present in our minds, or are the immediate objects of present consciousness. And yet, how unreasonable would it be to say, that we must first know those things to be true by reason, before we give credit to our experience of the truth of them! Not only are there innumerable truths, that are reasonably received as following from such general propositions as have been mentioned, which cannot be known by reason, if they are considered by themselves, or otherwise than as inferred from these general propositions; but also, many truths are reasonably received, and are received by the common consent of the reason of all rational persons, as undoubted truths, whose truth not only would not otherwise be discoverable by reason, but, when they are discovered by their consequence from that general proposition, appear in themselves not easy, and reconcilable to reason, but difficult, incomprehensible, and their agreement with reason not understood. So that men, at least most men, are not able to explain, or conceive of the manner in which they are agreeable to reason.
§ 4. Thus, for instance, it is a truth, which depends on that general proposition, that credit is to be given to the testimony of our senses, that our souls and bodies are so united, that they act on each other. But it is a truth which reason otherwise cannot discover, and, now that it is revealed by the testimony of our senses, reason cannot comprehend, that what is immaterial, and not solid nor extended, can act upon matter. Or, if any choose to say, that the soul is material, then other difficulties arise as great. For reason cannot imagine any way, that a solid mass of matter, whether at rest or in motion, should have perception, should understand, and should exert thought and volition, love, hatred, &c. And if it be said that spirit acts on matter, and matter on spirit, by an established law of the Creator, which is no other than a fixed method of his producing effects ; still the manner how it is possible to be, will be inconceivable. We can have no conception of any way or