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C. 10.

Animi labes nec diuturnitate evanefcere, nec amnibus ullis Deeg. 1. 2. elui poteft.

c. 26. n. 9.

Lactantius feems to be of another Opinion, in faying, Infrirut. 1 3. "Give us One that is unjust, foolish, and a Sinner; and in

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one Instant he shall be juft, prudent, and innocent; with "one Laver all his Wickednefs fhall be wash'd away.

IN a Word, while Priefts of what Denomination foever pretend Authority to abfolve Sinners, and the People are so void of Sense as to rely on their Absolution; Natural Religion, which puts the whole Strefs on internal Penitence and true Virtue in the Soul, will be defpis'd; as allowing no Succedaneum, no Commuting, or Compounding with Heaven. And, indeed, all fuch commuting, or compounding Powers, wherever they are fuppos'd to be lodg'd, ferve as a Bank of Credit for the Tranfgreffors; and are a mighty Incitement to all Manner of Villany: And in former Days, the great Men, after having oppress'd and plunder'd People, thought to compound with Heaven, by letting the Clergy fhare in the Spoil; and 'tis on this Notion fo many Abbies and Monafteries have been founded; and the fuperftitious, as long as they are perfuaded there is any Virtue in Externals, will, as we fee by conftant Experience, chiefly depend on fuch Things. And I may add,

THIS Doctrine, that one Man may not only merit for himself by doing more than God requires of him ; but that the Merit of fuch Actions may be transfer'd to another, who has done lefs than God requires of him, has been a great Incitement to Wickedness; and those who have acted a most immoral Part during their whole Lives, have believ'd they might comfortably rely on it; nothing being thought too hard for Merit and Mediation.

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THERE are none, I think, now fo abfurd, as in Words to maintain, that there's the least Variableness in God, much less that he is an arbitrary Being, commanding Things for Commanding-fake; yet are not they, who affert there are meerly pofitive Things in the Christian Religion, guilty of this Abfurdity; in fuppofing that God, who had the Goodness for a long Time, not to confine Mankind to any indifferent Things; yet at length chang'd his Mind, and repented of this great Goodness; and arbitrarily depriv'd, they will not fay, all Mankind, but no small Number of this Liberty; and requir'd of them the Belief of certain useless Speculations, and the Practice of certain indifferent Things on the feverest Penalties? And when they lament that the Christian World, even from the earliest Days, has been in perpetual Broils about fuch Things, do they not fuppose that God can give arbitrary Commands, and that those Commands are involv'd in great Obscurity? Whereas, if merely pofitive Things were requir'd, those, not being like Matters of Morality, difcoverable by their own Light, wou'd be made as plain as infinite Wisdom could render them; and to prevent their being perverted to serve ill Purposes, we fhou'd have been punctually told When, How, and by Whom, thofe arbitrary Things fhou'd be apply'd, as well as that they were to be obligatory for ever.

B. IF God has reveal'd any Thing in a Way liable to be mistaken, he can't be difpleas'd with fincere People for miftaking it.

A. THAT's very true, but certainly the End of God's giving any Precepts, was not to deliver them fo obfcurely that People might be faultlefs if they miftook; but to make 'em fo plain that they could not well miftake: And this is agreeable to infinite Wisdom directed by infinite Goodness, which,


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certainly, will give us equal Degrees of Evidence for religious Truths, which fo much concern us, as it has done for Truths of less Importance.

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of Divinity.

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FOR my Part, I can't help being of the Sentiments of a learned Divine, who, after having prov'd at large, that Morality is capable of Demonstration, concludes with faying, "I fhall only here repeat, that Man being a reasonable Fiddes Body Agent, Reason is the Law and Rule of his Actions; there's Par. 2. B. 1, no Truth in Mathematicks more clear, and incontestable "than This. Now 'tis as eafy for him, when he examines "his Actions by this Rule, to fee whether they agree toge-❝ther, as to know when two Lines are compar'd, whether they are of the fame, or a different Length. Why "should Demonftration then be confin'd only to Numbers "and Figures? Nay, if we argue from the Impor"tance of Morality, it will be found much more agreeable

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to the Goodness of God, who gave us our intellectual Fa"culties, that the Truths which are of the greatest Con"cern to us, should, if we make a due Ufe of thofe Fa"culties, admit of the greatest Evidence." I think, I need only add, that was there any Thing but Morality necessary to constitute true Religion, we might be certain that the Goodness of God wou'd give us a Demonstration for it, equal to that he has given us for Morality. But,

If there are now Things which are not moral in Religion, does not That fuppofe a Change of Mind in God; and then where will you ftop? For if Changeableness was not a Perfection, it wou'd not be in him; and if all his Perfections are infinite, must not This be fo too? And is it not as reasonable to fuppofe, he may command fome indifferent Things to Day, and others to Morrow; or some in this Part of the World, and fome in another; as at first to

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C. 14.

Ap 1 p. 149

command moral, and then fuper-add indifferent Things? If indifferent Things can contribute to the Perfection of Revelation, there may be endless Revelations; and the last always more perfect, as having new indifferent Things. It was not about Things of a moral Nature, that there were such Divisions in the primitive Times, and that Montanifm fpread itself over a great Part of the Chriftian Eccl. Hift. 1. 5. World; the Followers of Montanus, as Eufebius writes, boafting that he was the Paraclet, and that Priscilla and Ma ximilla his Companions were his Propheteffes? And TertulReve's P'm lian, as is own'd by the Tranflator of his Apology, fays, That the Law, and the Prophets were to be look'd on as "the Infancy; and the Gofpel, as it were, the Youth; but "that there was no compleat Perfection to be found, but " in the Inftruction of the Holy Ghost, who spake by Mon"tanus:" But to make fome Apology for his laps'd Father, he fays, "The Arch-Heretick Montanus fupported the "Character of a moft holy, mortify'd, and extraordinary "Person for a confiderable Time; the World rung with "the Vifions and Prophecies of him, and his two Damfels; " and the Face of Severity and Saintfhip confecrated their "Reveries, and made real Poffeffion pafs for Infpiration. "The Churches of Phrygia, and afterwards other Churches, "divided upon the Account of these new Revelations; and even the very Bishop of Rome himself for fome Time efpous'd the Vanity, and made much of the Impoftor. And had he continu'd to do fo, it might, perhaps, have obtain'd; fince we find the Chriftians in the primitive Times came intirely into a more grofs Impofture, and had Faith for the most palpable Forgery of the Sybilline Oracles being writ by real Propheteffes under divine Inspirations. And the whole Chriftian World for more than the two firft Centu


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ries believ'd the Millenarian Herefy, as it is now call'd; for which, indeed, they pretended other Proofs than the divine Authority of the Sybils. And there has scarce been an Agé fince, but where some such Attempt has been made, and That of Popery, which is the groffeft Attempt on the Credulity of Mankind fucceeded; tho' the Monks in the twelfth Century were not fatisfy'd even with that; and therefore, endeavour'd to introduce a new Gospel, call'd Evan-er de Chrif gelium eternum, or the Gospel of the Holy Ghost; and af- fione & raru firm'd, that this Gospel of the Spirit excell'd That of Christ's, as much as the Light of the Sun does that of the Moon.

In short, to this Belief, that there may be Things in Religion not founded on Nature and Reason, and that these may be referv'd for this, or that Period of Time, are ow ing all the Vifions and Reveries among the Papifts, and other Enthufiaflick Chriftians; and upon this abfurd Notion is founded the moft fpreading Religion of Mahomet, who pretended to be the Paraclet promis'd by Jesus to compleat, and perfect all Things: And,

IN a Word, to this Belief are owing all the falfe Revelations that ever were in the World; and except we allow there are certain Tefts flowing from the Nature of Things, whereby the meaneft Capacities may diftinguish Truth from Falfhood, we shall for ever be liable to be impos'd on by Mad-men as well as Impoftors.

If God can command fome Things arbitrarily, we can't be certain, but that he may command all Things fo; for tho' fome Commands fhould relate to Things in their own Nature good, yet how can we know that an arbitrary Being commands them for this Reafon ; and, confequently, fince an arbitrary Will may change each


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