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of visions, as that of the Revelation of Saint John, of which he himself could give no account of the meaning or design, and did not pretend to it. What design could he have in it? But if he had a design, the frame of the visions is not a whit like a random invention, without any view or design as to interpretation.
§ 12. It does not seem to me at all likely, that any person among the Jews, so long ago, should have so perfect a knowledge of nature, and the secret springs of human affections, as to be able to feign any thing so perfectly and exquisitely agreeable to nature, as the incidents in Joseph's history, and the other histories of the Bible ; particularly the history of Genesis.
§ 13. Such kind of miracles, as healing the sick, the blind, the deaf, dumb, lame, &c.; and creating bread and flesh, and turning water into wine, are greater than those that are so much more pompous, as causing universal darkness, dividing the sea, the shaking and burning of Mount Sinai, &c. The healing of the sick and distracted, do more especially manifest divine power, for this cause, that we have reason to conclude mankind especially are subject to God's providence, and that their health and the exercise of their reason, are alone in his hands, and that it is not in the power of any evil spirit to give them and take them at his pleasure, however great power he may be supposed to have over the inanimate creatures.
When a person appears, that has evidently the whole course of nature at all times subject to his command, so that he can alter it how and when he pleases, we have the greatest reason to think that person has divine authority, and that the author and upholder of nature favours him, and gives approbation to what he pretends thereby. For we know, that the course of nature is God's established course of acting upon creatures ; and we cannot think that he would give power to any evil spirit to alter it when he pleases, for evil purposes. But Christ manifestly had the course of nature so subject to his will and command.
$ 14. It would not have been proper for Christ constantly to dwell among men after his resurrection. - Men would be exceedingly apt to fall into idolatry; and, because they sau the man Christ Jesus, would be apt to direct their worship to the human nature. Therefore, we are not to see the man Christ Jesus till we are perfected, and are not liable to temptation on such occasions. For this reason, probably, it was not convenient for Christ to appear in great majesty and glory when on earth, but the contrary ; for this reason, Christ endeavoured to hide his transfiguration, and many other miracles, till after he was risen ; and, for this reason, he did not converse constantly with his disciples after his resurrection, abefore. All these things were done in a manner the most wise and fit that can be imagined.
§ 15. If human reason, by any thing that has happened since the creation, be really very much corrupted ; and, if God is still propitious, and does not throw us off, but reserves us for that end for which he made us; it cannot be imagined that he would leave us to our reason, as the only rule to guide us in that business, which is the highest end of life: For it is not to be depended upon; and yet we exceedingly need something that may be depended upon in reference to our everlasting welfare. It does not seem to me reasonable to suppose, that if God be merciful after we have forfeited his favour, he will manifest his mercy only in some mitigations of that misery into which we have plunged ourselves, leaving us inevitably to endure the rest : but that he will quite restorc us, in case of our acceptance of his offered favour.
§ 16. It seems much the most rational to suppose, that the universal law by which mankind are to be governed, should be a written law. For if that rule, by which God intends the world shall be regulated, and kept in decent and happy order, be supposed to be expressed no other way than by nature ; man's prejudices will render it, in innumerable circumstances, a most uncertain thing. For though“ it must be granted, that men who are willing to transgress, may abuse written as well as unwritten laws, and expound them so as may best serve their turn upon occasion ; yet, it must be allowed, that, in the nature of the thing, revelation is a better guard than a bare scheme of principles without it. For men must take more pains to conquer the sense of a standing, written law, which is ready to confront them upon all occasions. They must more industri. ously tamper with their passions, and blind their understandings, before they can bring themselves to believe what they have a mind to believe, in contradiction to the words of an express and formal declaration of God Almighty's will, than there can be any pretence or occasion for, when they have no more than their own thoughts and ideas to manage. These are flexible things, and a man may much more easily turn and wind them as he pleases, than he can evade a plain and positive law, which determines the kinds and measures of his duty, and threatens disobedience in such terms as require long practice and experience to make handsome salyos and distinctions to get over. And, upon this account, also, that it is fit in every case, when the law is made known, that also the sanctions, the rewards, and punishments, should be known at the same time. But nature could never have determined these with any certainty.
** Ditton on the Resurrection.
§ 17. Raising the dead to life, is given in the Old Testament; as a certain proof of the authority and mission of a prophet; and that what he says is the truth. 1 Kings xvii. 24. i. And the woman said to Elijah, By this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth." So that, if the Old Testament is the word of God, Jesus was a true prophet.
18. The being of God is evident by the Scriptures, and the Scriptures themselves are an evidence of their own divine authority, after the same manner as the existence of a human thinking being is evident by the motions, behaviour, and speech of a body animated by a rational mind. For we know this no otherwise, than by the consistency, harmony, and concurrence of the train of actions and sounds, and their agreement to all that we can suppose to be in a rational mind.
These are a clear evidence of understanding and design, which are the original of these actions. There is that universal harmony, consent, and concurrence in the drift, such an universal appearance of a wonderful and glorious design, such stamps every where of exalted wisdom, majesty, and holiness, in matter, manner, contexture, and aim; that the evidence is the same; that the scriptures are the word and work of a divine mind—to one that is thoroughly acquainted with them-as that the words and actions of an understanding man are from a rational mind. An infant, when it first comes into the world, sees persons act, and hears their voice, before it has so much comprehension as to see something of their consistence, harmony, and concurrence. It makes no distinction between their bodies, and other things ; their motions and sounds, and the motions and sounds of inanimate things. But as its comprehension increases, the understanding and design begin to appear. So it is with men that are as little acquainted with the scriptures, as infants with the actions of human bodies. They cannot see any evidence of a divine mind, as the original of it'; because they have not comprehension enough to apprehend the harmony, wisdom, &c.
& 19. Were it not for divine revelation, I am persuaded, that there is no one doctrine of that which we call natural religion, which, notwithstanding all philosophy and learning, would not be for ever involved in darkness, doubts, endless disputes, and dreadful confusion. Many things, now they are revealed, seem very plain. It is one thing, to see that a truth is exceedingly agreeable to reason, after we have had it explained to us, and have been told the reasons of it; and anoiher, to find it out, and clearly and certainly to explain it by mere reason. It is one thing, to prove a thing after we are shown how; and another, to find it out, and prove it of ourselves.
If there never had been any revelation, I believe the world would have been full of endless disputes about the very being of a God; whether the world was from eternity or not; and whether the form and order of the world did not result from the mere nature of matter. Ten thousand different schemes there would have been about it. And, if it were allowed that there was a first cause of all things, there would have been endless disputes, and abundance of uncertainty, to determine what sort of a thing that first cause was. Some, it may be, would have thought that it was properly an intelligent mind and a voluntary agent. Others might say, that it was some principle of things, of which we could have no kind of ideas. Some would have called it a voluntary agent: some, a principle exerting itself by a natural necessity. There might have been many schemes contrived about this, and some would like one best, and some another; and, amongst those that held, that the original of all things was superior intelligence and will, there probably would have been everlasting doubts and disputes, whether there was one only, or more. Some, perhaps, would have said, there was but one; some, that there were two; the one, the principle of good; the other, the principle of evil : others, that there was a society, or a world of them, And, among those that held, that there was but one mind, there would
be abundance of uncertainty what sort of a being he was; whether he was good, or evil; whether he was just, or unjust ; holy or wicked ; gracious or cruel; or, whether he was partly good, and partly evil; and how far he concerned himself with the world, after he had made it; and how far things were owing to bis providence, or whether at all ; how far he concerned himself with mankind; what was pleasing to him in them, and what was displeasing; or whether he cared any thing about it; whether he delighted in justice and order, or not; and whether he would reward the one, and punish the other; and how, and when, and where, and to what degree. There would have been abundance of doubt and dispute concerning what this mind expected from us, and how we should behave towards him ; or whether he expected we should anywise concern ourselves with him: whether we ever ought to apply ourselves to him any way; whether we ought to speak to him, as expecting that he would take any notice of us : how we should show our respect to him; whether we ought to praise and commend him in our addresses; whether we ought to ask that of him which we need; whether or no he would forgive any, after they had offended him; when they had reason to think they were forgiven, and what they should do that they might be forgiven ; and whether it is ever worth the while for them that are so often offending, to try for it; whether here were not some sins so great, that God never would, upon any terms, forgive them, and how great they must be in order to that. Men would be exceedingly at a loss to know when they were in favour with him, and upon what terms they could be in his favour. They would be in a dreadful uncertainty
. about a future state ; whether there be any, and, if there be, whether it is a state of rewards and punishments; and, if it is, what kind of state it is, and how men are to be rewarded and punished, to what degree, and how long; whether man's soul be eternal or not, and, if it be, whether it is to remain in another world in a fixed state, or change often.
Every man would plead for the lawfulness of this or that practice, just as suited his fancy, and agreed with his interest and appetites; and there would be room for a great deal of uncertainty and difference of opinion among those that were most speculative and impartial. There would be uncertainty, in a multitude of instances, what was just, and what unjust. It would be very uncertain how far self-interest should govern men, and how far love to our neighbour; how far revenge would be right, and whether or no a man might hate his neighbour, and for what causes: what degree of passion and ambition was justifiable and laudable : what sensual enjoyments were lawful, and what not: how far we ought to honour, respect, and submit to our parents, and other superiors : how far it would be lawful to dissemble and deceive. It seems to me, there would be infinite confusion in these things; and that there would hardly be any such thing as conscience in the world.
The world has had a great deal of experience of the necessity of a revelation; we may see it in all ages, that have been without a revelation. In what gross darkness and brutal stupidity have such places, in these matters, always been overwhelmed! and how many and how great and foolish mistakes, and what endless uncertainty and differences of opinion have there been among the most learned and philosophical! Yet, there never was a real trial how it would be with mankind in this respect, without having any thing from revelation. I believe that most of those parts of natural religion, that were held by the Heathens before Christ, were owing to tradition from those of their forefathers who had the light of revelation. And many of those being most evidently agreeable to reason, were more easily upheld and propagated. Many of their wise men who had influence and rule over them, saw their rectitude and agreeableness to reason better than others. Some of them travelled much, and those things which appeared most agreeable to their reason, they transplanted to their own coun. try. Judea was a sort of light among the nations, though they did not know it. The practice and principles of that country, kept the neighbouring nations in remembrance of Vol. VII.