Page images

To this Sufficiency, which he boasts, not as his own, but derived from God, he ascribes in the Words following his Preaching of the Gofpel: Who hath also made us able Ministers of the New Testament, not of the Letter, but of the Spirit. He expresly insists, that he neither received his Gospel of Men, neither was be taught it "but by the Revelation of Fesus Christ

. He calls it the Revelation of the MyStery, which was kept secret since the World began; but now is made manifest

, and by the Scriptures of the Prophets, according to the Commandment of the everlafling God, made known to all Nations, for the Obedience of Faith. +

I have chosen this Text, and recited these Passages with Design to examine into a certain Sufficiency lately advanced in opposition to that of St. Paul, the Sufficiency of Human Reason.

* Gal. 1. 12.

+ Rom. xvi.



It must be allowed, that there have been Times when some Men have so far exalted Revelation, as wholly to set by and destroy Reafon : But now Reason is to make Reprizals, to hold up its Head, to boast its absolute Sufficiency, and as it were take its Revenge, by representing Revelation, not only to be a needless, but an absurd and ridiculous thing. Thus instead of receiving and enjoying the united Gifts of God withi Humilicy and Thankfulness, some Men, by overvaluing One, have chrown back the Other upon his Hands with Impiety and Ingratitude.

The Advocates of this new-discover'd Sufficiency assert, That had God from time to time spoke to all Mankind in their several Languages, and his Words miraculously convey'd the same Ideas to all Persons, yer he could not speak more plainly than he has done by the Things themselves, and the Relation which Reason shews there is between them *. The Inference from this is, That Revelation is needless and abfurd. Another Author affirms, that Human Reason is in itself sufficient in all Circumstances to guide Men to Virtue, and Happiness consequent to it. That Reason is a much more sure Guide in Matters of Religion, than Sense is, or can be in the Affairs of this Life, that is, Reason assisted by Sense. --- That the Difference of Good and Evil, and the Obligation of natural Piecy, are as manifest as any Objects of Sense can be, and have that Certainty and Demonstration, which the others are not capable of t. All this is said with a view to prove Revelation not necessary, but expedient and useful only.

* Christianity as old, &c. p. 27. + Plea, &c. p. 10. 12.


These Writers carry this Matter very high. Had they affirmed, that some Men of very happy Talents, and uncommon Genius, Men who had the Advantages of a good Education, Conversation, Books, Leisure and Retirement, had after much Application and Study discover'd all our moral and religious Obligations; this, tho’ we know no such Man, had been a much modester way of talking, than to affirm that the Reason of every Man, in all States and Circumstances, is capable of these Discoveries; that they lie as open to our Understandings, as sensible Objects do to our Senses. Those great Men, who have been thought to have discover'd some few moral and religious Obligations, have been hitherto highly esteemed and applauded : But now on a sudden, the Wonder is, that every Man in all States and Circumstances, is not able to demonstrate


B 3


[ocr errors]

every religious and moral Relation,
as clearly as he perceives the Bright-
ness of the Sun, or chat Snow is
white. Assertions, so contrary to Fact,
lo repugnant to the Experience of
Mankind from first to last, require
fome extraordinary Proof to gain our
Credit and Assent. Mankind wou'd
doubtless be very fond of this Suffi-
ciency, cou'd they be sure to find it
in themselves : But, as it is what none
cver had, or pretended to have, ex-
cept a few Persons in this Age, who
have at last demonstrated nothing lo
clearly, as that they are very poor
Masters of Reason, it is to be hoped
we shall not be flattered into a Belief
of this Sufficiency of our Reason,
and so lose the little Understanding
which we have, or attempt dange-
rous Flights, 'till we are well assured
that we have Wings to support us.

Let us therefore take this bold Pro-
position under Examination.

« PreviousContinue »