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never confider'd them, nor the proVolume
per consequences of them; they neiXII, ther believe, nor disbelieve them up:
on any reasonable account.
Now all these are to be dealt withall in the same way: for whatever will convince the Disbeliever, will much more perswade the indifferent, and confirm the weak. For Faith is to be strengthned by the same Arguments by which it is wrought. Therefore I shall apply my self to convince Unbelievers; and every one may apply those Arguments which I use to this purpose, for the strengthning of their own Faith.
But before I come to those Arguments, I intend to offer for the conviction of those who do not believe, I think it convenient to endeavour, if possible, to remove a violent, and I think unreasonable prejudice which men have received against all those who endeavour to make Religion reafonable. As if Bellarmine had been in the right, when he said “ That & Faith was rather to be defined by ignorance than by Knowledge. The
plain English of which is, that it is
give a satisfactory account why he beVolume lieves it, I know no way but that all XII. considerate inquisitive men, that are
above Fancy and Enthufialin, must be either Socinians or Atheists.
I cannot imagine how men can do greater disservice to Religion, than by taking it off from the rational and folid Basis upon which it stands, and bearing the World in hand, that men ought to believe without reafon: for this is to turn Faith into Credulity, and to level Christian Religion with the vileft and most groundless Enthusiasms that ever were in the World. Indeed if we had only to deal with Henry Nicholas, and Jacob Behman, who fight against us in the dark, not with Reasons and Arguments, but with insignificant Words, and obfcure Phrases; we might make a shift to bear up against them with this Principle, and we might charge them to believe us, as they do us to believe them, without giving them any reason for it: but if we were to deal with Celfees, or Julian, or Porphyry, or some of our modern Atheists, we should soon find how vain it would
be to go about to cajole them with our
Sermon Phrases, and to gain them over to
VI. Christianity, by telling them that they must deny their Reason, and lay aside their Understandings, and believe they know not why. If the great Pillars of Christianity, the ancient Fathers, had taken this course in their Apologies for Christian Religion, it had never triumph'd over Judaism and Paganism as it did; and whoever hath Read over those Defences and Vindications of Christian Religion against Jews and Heathens, which were written in the first Ages of the Church, especially the Books of Origen againit Celsus, and Eufebius his Book de Demonft. and Præparat. Evangel. Ihall find that they did very folicitously endeavour to satisfie the World by all rational ways, both of the truth and reasonablencis of Christian Religion. And if that was a good way then, it is so now; and never more necesary than in this Age, which I fear hath as many Atheists and Infidels, that go under the name of Christians, as ever were in any Age since Christian Religion was first planted in the World.
But my design at present is not XII. to perswade men particularly to the
belief of Christianity (that I intend hereafter, by God's Assistance, to speak to) but to perswade men to the belief of Religion in generat. So that all that I shall do at present, shall be, as briefly as I can, to offer some Arguments and Considerations to per. swade men to the Belief of the Principles of Natural Religion, and of the Revelation which God hath made of his Mind and Will in the Holy Scriptures.
1. To perswade men to believe the Principles of Natural Religion, such as the Being of God; the immortality of the Soul; and future Rewards after this Life. I shall offer these tivo Considerations.
Firfl, That it is most reasonable fo
Secondly, That it is infinitely most prudent.