Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

Should this age give God no glory for any deliverance in former ages, or any work of providence that was done since the beginning of the world till now? What a foolish and impious conceit is this; they may as well say, that he that liveth all his days in this town, or is cloistered in a cell, should not believe that the world is any bigger than he sees, nor should give God any glory for the rest of his workmanship. Human testimony is the light by which we must behold his former works to his praise.

Argument V,

If we are not bound to believe God's wondrous works, which

we see not, then our ancestors, or teachers, are not bound
to tell them us. But the consequent is false. Therefore,

so is the antecedent.
Why should men be bound to tell us that which we are not
bound to believe upon their report? God bindeth no man to
use any means in vain. But that we are bound to tell others
of God's wondrous works, is clear in nature, as well as Scrip-
ture.

1. What greater use have we our tongues and languages for?

2. Our allegiance to God requireth it.
3. Our love to men, to posterity, to the world, requires it.

4. Our love to truth will bind us to propagate it. I do not think, for all their foolish cavilling, but that if one of these apostate infidels should see the dead raised, or should have an angel from heaven deliver them a book, and say, "This is the truth ;' they would think it their duty to tell it abroad, and other men's duty to believe their report. Is it not our duty to tell to posterity the deliverances which God had wrought for us? And for those that have seen any mercy or judgment in peace or war, to tell those that saw it not? But why should they tell those that are not bound to believe them?

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Argument VI.

That doctrine which would put out the eyes of the world, and

bring them all to folly and barbarous ignorance, and would
destroy all teaching, and all human converse, societies,

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

may

and government, is false and detestable: but such is the

doctrine which we here oppose: therefore, If we are not bound to believe men, when they report the most wondrous works of God, then we are not bound to believe them in lesser things, which we first see not, or know not ourselves. And if so, then the fore-mentioned consequents will follow.

1. Take away from men the credit of history, and let them know nothing but what hath been in their own days, and what a mole do you leave man. But further take away from him the credit of human testimony, and let him know nothing of any other country, or of his own, but what he sees, and you so far put out his eyes, that you leave him scarce a man, and next shut him up again in the womb.

2. How shall any man teach another any art, language, or science, if the scholar ought not to believe his teacher? If he that would teach you Latin, Greek, or Hebrew, tell you the power of each letter, and the signification of each word, and you say, 'I am not bound to believe you, because I know it not to be true myself, how then will he learn? So in other cases. And if there be no teaching or learning, what knowledge will there be ? If children must practise this doctrine also, and not learn any thing of their own fathers or mothers, because they know it not first themselves, and therefore need not believe them; then we should have a world of infants, and they would not be taught so much as to speak. But the best is, this idiot doctrine is so unnatural, that it must be violated before it can be practised: you must believe others, before you can learn that others are not to be believed : and, therefore, children are not in much danger of it. He that tells me that I am not bound to believe others, I hope will give me leave to suppose, then, that I am not bound to believe him that tells me so : for by believing him I shall cross his doctrine : nor will he

suppose

that I should credit him more than others, or than all the world.

3. There can be no societies kept up, without believing oneanother.

4. No, nor any human converse. If men should live every one as purely independent from the rest of the world, no men could enter into any contracts or covenants.

5. Nor could there be any government of any commonwealth. The subject should not be bound to believe that he hath a king,

power

unless he see him, nor that the laws are true and genuine, and not forged; nor could men buy or sell, or have any security of their properties for want of witnesses, nor be accused of any crime, or wrong doing, because no witnesses should be to be believed. If a man's estate and life shall be in the of two or three witnesses by the laws of God and nature, except where there is just exceptions against them, and proof of the contrary to what they attest; sure, this is on supposition of some powerful inclination to verity in nature, and of so much natural honesty and conscience in mankind, as that so great concernments may be laid upon them. How much more then, should so many thousand witnesses be believed in a case, for God and our souls, where we know that they cannot possibly deceive us ?

Argument VII. That doctrine which would tie God to be at the beck of every

unreasonable infidel, to satisfy him by miracles, when he hath afforded him ordinary, sufficient means, is a false and ungodly doctrine. But such is the doctrine which we here oppose : therefore,

That ordinary, human testimony is a sufficient means to inform us of the certainty of former miracles, I have already showed : and also that those miracles are sufficient attestations on God's part of his owning the doctrine so attested. If, therefore, every infidel after all this say, I will not believe unless I see, they deserve rather punishment than satisfaction. Then, if God had showed a miracle to a thousand, yea, to all the city or country, except one man, he must do all over again for the convincing of that one man, because he will believe no man else. This were to subvert the whole frame of providential government, and to turn extraordinaries into ordinaries, and to teach all men to live by sense. But thus God will not do to satisfy every or any unbeliever.

Argument VIII.

If God do not use such common, repeated miracles to convince

the world with, of the verity of the christian religion, then they are not necessary absolutely to that end. But God doth not use such, &c. Therefore,

That miracles are now ceased, at least so as not to be common to every man, is beyond doubt. And that God withdraweth not any means without which the world cannot rationally be convinced, is as certain : they that affirm the contrary must affirm that he now obligeth us not to believe, that is, that it is no duty to be a Christian ; which I have disproved before ; and

а

l use this argument against those seekers only, who yet pretend not to renounce their Christianity.

Argument IX.

God doth still effectually convince millions of men of the cer

tainty of the christian religion, and that without renewed miracles. Therefore there is a sufficient way of such con

viction without them. Ab esse ad posse, ab actu secundo ad potentiam, ab efficientia ad sufficientiam, the argument is past doubt. If God ordinarily

. do it, then it may be done, and then the way is sufficient, and the other not of absolute necessity. If any infidel say that all these that seem convinced of the truth of the Gospel are deluded, and take their own imaginations for certain apprehensions, I answer, 1. They themselves know the contrary to their

I own satisfaction.

2. Some of them are able to show sufficient reasons of their faith and hope to others, and have often done it.

Argument X. Lastly: I shall, for the sake of those that yet own Christianity,

produce some Scripture testimonies, from whence it shall appear that it was not the intent of God to ork miracles before all that ought to believe, nor to continue them to all following ages, but to send down a sufficient testimony that formerly they were wrought, and thereby to oblige posterity to believe : and also that we are obliged to believe the testimony of our ancestors and teachers, as they are bound to

instruct us. 1. “That I might show these, my signs, before him, and that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son's son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done amongst them, that ye may know how that I am the Lord.” (Exod. x, 1, 2.) Here you have, 1. The convincing evidence, God's miracles. 2. The person that saw them was Pharaoh. 3. Yet must the Israelites declare them to posterity, and therefore posterity must believe them. 4. And that to prove to them that God is the Lord.

2.“ Hath this been in your days, or even in the days of your fathers ? Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation. That which the palmer-worm hath left, hath the locust eaten,” &c. (Joel i. 2-4.) You see here tradition must be instead of the sight of the fact.

3. “ And it shall come to pass when your children shall say unto you, What mean you by this service? That you shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord's Passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses.” (Exod. xii. 14, 17, 26, 27, 42.) Here is tradition by ordinance and words, which posterity must believe.

4. “For I spake not with your children, which have not known, and which have not seen the chastisement of the Lord your God, his greatness, his mighty hand, and his stretched-out arm, and his miracles, and his acts, which he did in the midst of Egypt, unto Pharaoh the King of Egypt, and unto all his land, and what he did unto the army of Egypt,” &c. “But your eyes have seen all the great acts of the Lord, which he did. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them upon the door-posts of thy house, and upon thy gates, that your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children.” (Deut. xi. 2—7, 19, 21.)

5. See, also, Deut. xxix. 22--27, &c.

6. "That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean you by these stones ? then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, when it passed over Jordan; the waters of Jordan were cut off; and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.(Josh. iv. 6, 7, 22-24.)

7. See, also, Josh. xxii. 24–32.

8. “Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces, that you may tell it to the generation following.” (Psalm xlviii. 13.) 9. “Give ear, O my people, to my law; incline your ears to

0

« PreviousContinue »