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though he do not talk like a madman, or a man going out of his wits, and a stranger to all the reason and philosophy of the world: and therefore it is remarkable, that there is in our faith no article, but what is possible to be effected by the ordinary power of God: that a virgin should conceive is so possible to God's power, that it is possible in nature, say the Arabians; but however, he that made the virgin out of nothing, can make her produce something out of something: and for the resurrection of the dead, it is certainly less than the creation, and it is like that which we see every year, in the resurrection of plants and dead corn, and is in many degrees imitable by art, which can out of ashes raise a flower. And for all the articles of our creed, they are so far from being miraculous and strange to reason, that the greatest wonder is, that our belief is so simple and facile, and that we shall receive so great and prodigious events hereafter, by instruments so fitted to the weakest capacities of men here below. Indeed some men have so scorned the simplicity of the Gospel, that because they thought it honourable to have every thing strange and unintelligible, they have put in devices and dreams of miracles of their own, and have so explicated them, that as without many miracles they could not be verified, so without one, they can hardly be understood. That which is easy to reason, and most intelligible, is more like the plainness, and truth, and innocence, and wisdom, of the Gospel, than that which is bones to philosophy, and iron to the teeth of babes.

51. But this is to be practised with caution; for every man's reason is not right, and every man's reason is not to be trusted and therefore,

(4.) As absurd foolish things are not to be obtruded, under the pretence of being mysteries, so neither must mistaken philosophy, and false notices of things, be pretended for reason. There are mistakes on all hands, some Christians explicate their mysteries, and mince them into so many minutes and niceties, and speak of them more than they are taught, more than is said in the Scriptures, or the first creeds, that the article, which in its own simplicity was indeed mysterious, and not to be comprehended by our dark and less instructed reason, but yet was not impossible to be believed,-is made impossible to be understood by the appendages, and exposed to scorn and violences by heretics and

misbelievers: so is the incarnation of the Son of God, the mysterious Trinity, the presence of Christ in the holy sacrament. For so long as the mysteries are signified in simple, wise, and general terms, reason can espy no particular impossibilities in them: but when men will explicate what they cannot understand, and intricate what they pretend to explicate, and superinduce new clauses to the article, and by entering within the cloud, do less see the light,-they find reason amazed, where she could easily have submitted, and clouds brought upon the main article, and many times the body itself is supposed to be a phantasm, because of its tinsel and fairy dressing: and on the other side, he that would examine an article of faith, by a proposition in philosophy, must be careful that his philosophy be as right as he pretends. For as it will be hard to expect, that right reason should submit to a false article, upon pretence it is revealed, so it will be as hard to distrust an article, because it is against a false proposition, which I was taught in those schools of learning, who speak things by custom, or by chance, or because they are taught, and because they are not suffered to be examined. Whosoever offers at a reproof of reason, must be sure that he is right in the article, and that must be upon the strength of stronger reason; and he that offers by reason to reprove a pretended article, must be sure his reason must be greater than the reverence of that tension.


52. And therefore Holy Scriptures command us in those cases to such purposes, as not only teach us what to do in it, but also confirm the main inquiry; for therefore we are commanded to ،، try all things;" suppose that be meant that we try them by Scriptures; how can we so try them, but by comparing line with line, by considering the consequents of every pretence, the analogy of faith, the measures of justice, the laws of nature, essential right, and prime principles? And all this is nothing but by making our faith the limit of our reason, in matters of duty to God; and reason the minister of faith, and things that concern our duty. The same is intended by those other words of another apostle, " Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try if the spirits be of God;" how can this be tried? By Scripture? Yea; but how if the question be of the sense of Scripture, as it is gene

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rally at this day? Then it must be tried by something extrinsical to the question, and whatsoever you can call to judgment, reason must still be your solicitor and your advocate and your judge; only reason is not always the law, sometimes it is, for so our blessed Saviour was pleased to say, "Why of yourselves do you not judge that which is reasonable?" For so díxanov there is used, that which is fitting and consonant to reason;' and in proportion to this it was, that so much of the religion of Jesus was clothed with parables, as if the theorems and propositions themselves were clothed with flesh and blood, and conversed after the manner of men, to whom reason is the law and the rule, the guide and the judge, the measure of good and evil for this life, and for that which is to come. The consequent is this:

53. He that says thus, 'This doctrine is against the word of God, and therefore it is absurd and against reason,' may, as it falls out, say true; but his proposition will be of no use, because reason is before revelation, and that this is revealed by God, must be proved by reason. But,

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54. He that says, This is absurd, or this is against reason, therefore this is against the word of God,' if he says true in the antecedent, says true in the consequent, and the argument is useful in the whole, it being the best way to interpret difficult scriptures, and to establish right senses, and to confute confident heresies. For when both sides agree that these are the words of God, and the question of faith is concerning the meaning of the words, nothing is an article of faith, or a part of the religion, but what can be proved by reasons to be the sense and intentions of God. Reason is never to be pretended against the clear sense of Scripture, because by reason it is that we came to perceive that to be the clear sense of Scripture. And against reason, reason cannot be pretended; but against the words of Scripture produced in a question, there may be great cause to bring reason; for nothing seems plainer than those words of St. James, "Above all things, my brethren, swear not at all" and yet reason interposes and tells us, that plain words must not be understood against plain reason and plain nécessity for if oaths before magistrates were not permitted and allowed, it were necessary to examine all men by torLuke, xii, 57.

ture; and yet neither so could they so well be secured of truth as they can by swearing. What is more plain than the→ words of St. Pauls? Νεκρώσατε τὰ μέλη ὑμῶν, τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς,

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Mortify (or kill) your members, that are upon the earth;" and yet reason tells us, that we must not hurt or destroy one limb; and wherever the effect would be intolerable, there the sense is still unreasonable; and therefore not a part of faith, so long as it is an enemy to reason, which is the elder sister, and the guide and guardian of the younger.

55. For as when the tables of the law were broken by Moses, God would make no new ones, but bade Moses provide some stones of his own, and he would write them over: so it is in our religion;-when God with the finger of his Spirit writes the religion and the laws of Jesus Christ, he writes them in the tables of our reason, that is, "in the tables of our hearts."Homo cordatus,' 'a wise, rational man,' sober, and humble, and discursive, hath the best faith: but the aromo (as St. Paul calls them) "the unreasonable," they are such who have no faith "," for the Christian religion is called by St. Paul λoyın λargɛiz, "a reasonable worship;" λογικὴ λατρεία, and the word of God is called by St. Peter', vára kovinov adoλöv, “the reasonable and uncrafty milk;" it is full of reason, but it hath no tricks, it is rational, but not crafty, it is wise and holy: and he that pretends there are some things in our religion, which right reason cannot digest and admit, makes it impossible to reduce atheists, or to convert Jews and heathens. But if reason invites them in, reason can entertain them all the day.

And now to the arguments brought against the use of reason; the answers may easily be gathered from the premises :

56. To the first I answer, that reason is the eye of the soul in all things, natural, moral, and religious; and faith is the light of that eye, in things pertaining to God; for it is true, that natural reason cannot teach us the things of God: that is, reason instructed only by this world, which St. Paul calls "the natural man,"-cannot discern the things of the Spirit, for they are "spiritually discerned:" that is, that they are taught and perceived by the aids of God's Spirit, by revelation and divine assistances, and grace: but though

Coloss. iii. 5.

h 2 Thess. iii. 2.

I Pet. ii. 2.

natural reason cannot, yet it is false to say that reason cannot; for reason illuminated can perceive the things of God; that is, when reason is taught in that faculty, under that master, and by those rules which are proper for spiritual things, then reason can do all its intentions.

57: To the second I answer, that therefore humility and piety are the best dispositions, to the understanding the secrets of the Gospel.

(1.) Because these do remove those prejudices and obstructions which are bars and fetters to reason; and the humble man does best understand, because the proud man will not inquire, or he will not labour, or he will not understand any proposition that makes it necessary for him to lay aside his employment or his vanity, his interest or his vice.

(2.) These are indeed excellent dispositions to understanding, the best moral instruments, but not the best natural; if you are to dispute against a heathen, a good reason will sooner convince him than an humble thought; if you be to convert a Jew, an argument from the old prophets is better to him than three or four acts of a gracious comportment.

(3.) Sometimes by way of blessing and reward, God gives understanding to good persons, which to the evil he denies; but this which effects any thing by way of divine blessing, is not to be supposed the best natural instrument. Thus the divines say, that the fire of hell shall torment souls, “tanquam instrumentum divinæ voluntatis," as the instrument in the hand of a voluntary and almighty agent, but not as a thing apportioned properly to such an event,-for the worm of conscience is more apt to that purpose.

(4.) And when we compare man with man, so it is true that the pious man should be sooner instructed than the impious, 'cæteris paribus;' but if we compare discourse and piety, reason and humility, they excel each other in their several kinds, as wool is better than a diamond, and yet a diamond is to be preferred before a bag of wool; they operate to the same purpose of understanding in several manners: and whereas it is said in the argument, that "the doctrine of the cross was foolishness to the Greeks," it is true, but nothing to the present question. For therefore it was foolishness to them, because they had not been taught in the secrets of God, they

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