Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

desire I shall enter on a more particular Examination of it. The Strength of this Pamphlet, as far as it has any appearance of Reason or Argument, seems to me to lie chiefly in the former Part of it, where he undertakes and sets himself formally to prove, that Reason or the Intellectual Faculty could not posstbly both from its own Nature and that of Religion, be the Principle intended by God to lead us into a true Faith *. This is oddly and not very accurately expressed. But his Meaning evidently is, that it is not the Will and Design of God that we should make use of our intellectual Faculty at all in believing, and that God never intended to lay any Evidence before our Understanding to induce us to believe, nor that our intellectual Faculty should at all judge of the Evidence proposed. This is what he applies himself formally to prove, and he seems to have a very good opinion of this Part of his Argument, which he thinks he has managed so as to render the other Part of his Pamphlet needless -f.

His first Argument rests upon this Foundation, that Men are required in the Gospel to think all alike. And he thinks it a preposterous Scheme, that of Unity in Opinion proposed to be effected by Reasoning ||. He makes the fame Supposition in other Parts of his Book, concerning our being obliged or required to think all alike; that is, as he seems to understand it, to have exactly the same Sentiments in all Points in Matters of Religion. But this is not what Christianity requires. The Passage that hath most of an appearance this way,

D is •P. 7. fV.io6. J P. 8.

is that of St. Paul to the Corinthians: Now I beseech you, Brethren, by the Name of our Lord 'Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no Divifions among you, but that ye be perfectly joined together in thefame Mind and in the same Judgment *. But any one that carefully examines that Passage and the Context, will find that the Apostle's Meaning is not, that it was necessary for them to be persectly of the fame opinion in all speculative Matters, to which he hath there no reference at all, but that they should shun those Factions and Contentions, that Envying and Strife, and that Party-Spirit that he heard was among them *f*; and that they mould be joined in Unity of Heart and Affection. In like manner, when he prays for the believing Romans, that the God of all Patience and Consolation would grant them to be like-minded one towards another, according to Christ Jesus, that with one Mind and one Mouth they might glorify God, even the Father of cur Lord Jesus Christ \\; which is another Passage re- . ferred to by this Writer **: his Design is not to insist upon it as of absolute necessity, that there should be a strict Uniformity in Opinion; but that they should preserve an Unity of Affection,' and should all join in glorifying God with one Heart and Mouth, which he there supposes they might do, notwithstanding smaller Differences. Nothing is more evident than it is from many Passages in that Epistle, particularly the whole XlVth Chapter, that the Apostle is very far from insinuating, that

every

• i Cor. i. io. f i Cor. i. 11, iii. 3. I Rom. xv, 5,6. ••F.6S.

every Difference of Sentiments with regard to any thing in Religion is inconsistent with a true Christian Faith. For he there supposes the Christians to whom he writes to differ in several things, and exhorts them to mutual Forbearance, and not to judge or condemn one another on account of those Differences. That they that are strong ought to bear the Infirmities of the weak, i. e. of those that are weak in Faith; and that they should be united in Love and Charity, and in a brotherly Disposition towards one another. And this seems to be every where the Meaning of that Phrase, of being like-minded, and of one Mind, or the same Mind *. This also is what the Apostle intends by their keeping the Unity cj the Spirit in the Bond of Peace -j*. A noble Passage, that breathes an admirable Strain of Charity, tho' this Gentleman seems very willing by an odd Gloss to turn it into Ridicule ||. What he represents in a gibing way as a great Absurdity, is very true, that tho' Men cannot be all of one Opinion, they may be os one Faith j that is, one Faith in the sense St. Paul speaks of it, viz. one Faith in the great Essentials of it; and, with regard to lefler Matters, they should, as he there advises, forbear one another in Love. This forbearing one another, which is so often -urged as the Duty of Christians, plainly supposes that there is an Allowance in the Christian Scheme for Diversity of Opinions in religious Matters. This Gentleman's first Argument then fails him, which proceeds upon this Supposition, that

D 2 the

"See to this purpose Rom. xii. 16. Phil. ii. i, a, 3. 1 Tet. iii. 8. f Ephes. iv. 3. g P. 75.

the Gospel or the Christian Faith lays Men undeff a necessity of thinking all alike.

It is true, there are some main Principles, a Belies of which seems to be required of all that would pass for the Disciples of Jesus. But this is no Argument at all, that Christianity is not founded on rational Conviction or Evidence. There are some Principles necessary to be believed in natural Religion, as well as reveal'd; and to require any Religion at all, is to require a Belief of some Principles, because they lie at the Foundation of it.

But this will come in better, in considering the Author's next Argument j which is to this purpose:

That in the Gospel Questions are propounded to us under the Restraints of Threats and Authority. And he thinks it absurd and contradictory for a Man to be threatned into a rational Belief, to be talk'd to of Danger in bis Decisions, to have the Rod held out with the Lesson, and to have Propositions tendred to his Reason with Penalties annexed *. This is what he seems to lay a particular stress upon. He frequently takes notice of the Command laid upon us to believe, and the Threatnings denounced against Unbelief, as a Proof that Christianity is not a reasonable Religion.

It is to be observed, that in all that he faith on this head in different Parts of his Pamphlet, he is pleased to consider Faith and Unbelief as a mere speculative Assent or Dissent to certain Propositions, separated from all moral Dispositions and Qualifications whatsoever. Whereas any one that considers fiders the Scripture with Attention, will find that this is not the Representation there made of that faith on which so great a stress is laid in die New Covenant; or of the Unbelief, against which such Penalties are denounced. They are still supposed to be of a practical Nature and Tendency, and to take in good or bad Dispositions of the Mind, which are reckoned as included in the Faith there required, or the Unbelief there condemned.

But there is one previous Question that deservas to be distinctly considered, because it seems to lie at the Foundation of the Author's whole Argurfient on this head; and that is, whether the believing any Principles whatsoever can in any case be required of any Man as a Duty? This is what he seems to deny. He will not allow that any Man can be obliged by any Authority whatsoever to assent to any Truth at all, that is proposed to his Reason or Understanding. And that it would be the highest Tyranny and Injustice for God himself to require thiV, even with regard to those Truths that are of the greatest Certainty and Importance. That it is impossible to conceive any the least Connexion between the Notion of Dutyy and assenting rationally to any Proposition, howeverstrongly supported *. This appears to me to be a strange Assertion. It is in effect to fay, that no Man can be oblig'd to it as a Duty, to make a right Use of the Reason God has given him, nor can God himself require him to do so. He cannot so much as require his reasonable Creatures to believe and acknowledge his own supreme Dominion or Perfections, though

founded

« AnteriorContinuar »