Imágenes de páginas

PROP. of man, changed this happy constitution of things, XIII. and made labour necessary for the support of our

Of the



7. That in process of time, after the first entrance of sin into the world, men by degrees corrupted themselves more and more, till at length God, for the punishment of their sin and incorrigibleness,* brought upon them a general flood, which destroyed them all except a few persons, preserved for the restoration of the human race, is a truth delivered down to us, not only by authority of Scripture, but also by the concurrent testimony of almost all heathen philosophers and poets: And the histories of all nations backwards terminate in it; and, (which is the most remarkable thing of all, because it is a demonstrative and ocular proof of the universality of some such kind of dissolution,) the present visible frame and constitution of the earth throughout, the disposition and situation of the several strata of different kind of matter, whereof it is composed; the numberless shells of fishes, bones of other animals, and parts of all kinds of plants, which in every country and in almost every place are, at great variety of depths, found inclosed in earth, in clay, in stones, and in all sorts of matter; are such apparent demonstrations of the earth's having been in some former times, and perhaps more than once, (the whole surface of it at least) in a state of fluidity; that whosoever has seen the collections of this kind made by the very ingenious Dr Woodward and others, must in a manner abandon all use both of his senses and reason, if he can in the least doubt of this truth.

εἰς ὕβριν ἐξέπεσον. Ζεὺς δε μισήσας τὴν κατάστασιν, ἠφάνισε πάντα, καὶ δια TÓVOU TOV BíovάTédeie.-Calanus Indus apud Strabon. lib. 15.

* Επεὶ δὲ ἡ τῇ Θεοῦ μεν μοῖρα ἐξήτηλος ἐγίγνετο ἐν αὐτοῖς, πολλῷ τῷ θνητ τῷ καὶ πολλάκις ἀνακεραννυμένη, τὸ δὲ ἀνθρώπινον ἦθος ἐπεκράτει, τότε Θεὸς ὁ Θεῶν Ζεὺς, ἄτε δυνάμενος καθορᾷν τὰ τοιαῦτα, ἐνννόησας γένος ἐπιεικὲς ἀθλίως διατιθέμενον, δικὴν αὐτοῖς ἐπιθεῖναι βεληθεις, &c. Plato in Critia sive At lantico,


himself to


8. That God, after the flood, made particular re- PROP. velation of himself and of his will to the patriarchs, is a thing very credible in itself, for the same reasons of God's that I have before shown, in general, that the expec- revealing tation of some revelation from God was a reasonable the patriand probable expectation. And that, after this, God archs, and should vouchsafe, by express revelation, to give a law giving the to the whole nation of the Jews, consisting very much Jews. in sacrifices, and in external rites and ceremonious observances, cannot with any just reason be rejected as an incredible fact; if we consider that such a kind of institution was necessary, in those times and circumstances, to preserve that nation from the idolatry and worship of false gods, wherewith the countries around them were overspread; that those rites and ceremonies were typical of, and preparative to, a higher and more excellent dispensation; that the Jews were continually told by their prophets, that their observance of those rites and ceremonies was by no means so highly acceptable to God, nor so absolutely and indispensably insisted upon by him, as obedience to the moral law; and that the whole matter of fact, relating to that revelation, is delivered down to us in a history, on which the policy of a whole nation was founded, at a time when nobody could be ignorant of the truth of the principal facts, and concerning which we can now have no more reason to doubt than of any history of any ancient matter of fact in the world. The most considerable and real difficulty, viz. Why this favour was granted to that single nation only, and not to all the rest of the world likewise, is to be accounted for by the same reasons which prove (as has been before shown) that God was not obliged to make known the revelation of the gospel to all men alike.

ticulars of

9. That all the other particulars of Scripture history of the contained in the Old Testament, are true relations other par of matter of fact, (not to insist now on the many Scripture. arguments which prove in general the antiquity, ge- history in nuineness, and authority of the books themselves,) will Testa

the Old



PROP. to a rational inquirer appear very credible from hence, that very many of the particular histories, and some even of the minuter circumstances also of those histories, are confirmed by concurrent testimonies of profane and unquestionably unprejudiced authors: Of which Grotius, in his excellent book of the truth of the Christian religion,* has given us a large collection: As particularly, that the manner of the formation of the earth out of a chaos is mentioned by the ancientest Phoenician, Egyptian, Indian and Greek historians; the very names of Adam and Eve, by Sanchuniathon and others; the longevity of the antediluvians, by Berosus and Manethos, and others; the ark of Noah, by Berosus; many particulars of the flood, by Ovid and others; the family of Noah, and two of every kind of animals entering into the ark with him, mentioned by Lucian himself, as a tradition of the ancient Grecians; the dove which Noah sent out of the ark, by Abydenus and Plutarch;† the building of Babel, by Abydenus, the burning of Sodom, by Diodorus Siculus and Strabo, and Tacitus, and others; several particulars of the history of Abraham and the rest of the patriarchs, by Berosus and others; many particulars of Moses's life, by several ancient writers; the eminent piety of the most ancient Jews, by Strabo and Justin; divers actions of David and Solomon, in the Phoenician annals; some of the actions of Elijah, by Menander, and confessed by Julian himself; the history of Jonah, under the name of Hercules, by Lycophron and Æneas Gazæus; and the histories of the following times, by many more authors. Besides that (as learned men have upon exceeding probable

* Lib. 1. c. 16. and lib. 3. c. 16. where see the citations at large. † Δευκαλίωνι φασι περιστερὰν ἐκ τῆς λάρνακος ἀφιεμένην δήλωμα γενέσθαι, χειμῶνος μὲν ἔισω πάλιν ἐνδυομένην, ἐυδίας δὺ ἀποπτᾶσαν.—Plutarch : utrum Terrestria an Aquatica animantia plus habeant Solertia.

† Οἱ δὲ [Μωσήν] διαδεξάμενοι, χρόνες μὲν τινας ἐν τοῖς ἀυτοῖς διέμενον δικαιοπραγέντες, και θεοσεβεῖς ὡς ἀληθῶς ὄντες· Επειτ', &c. Lib. 16.


grounds supposed,*) many of the most ancient scrip- PROP. ture-histories are acknowledged and asserted in the writings of the poets, both Greeks and Latins; the true histories being couched under fictitious names and fabulous representations.

the re


10. That God, in the fulness of time, that is, at of God's that time which his infinite wisdom had fore-appoint- sending ed, which all the ancient prophecies had determined, to the and which many concurrent circumstances in the state world for of the Jewish religion, and in the disposition of the Ro- demption man empire, had made a fit season for the reception of manand propagation of a new institution of religion; that God (I say) at that time, should send his onlybegotten son, that word or wisdom of the father, that divine person by whom (as has been before shown) he created the world, and by whom he made all former particular manifestations of himself unto men, that he should send him, to take upon him our human nature, and therein to make a full and particular revelation of the will of God to mankind (who by sin had corrupted themselves and forfeited the favour of God, so that by the bare light of nature they could not discover any certain means by which they could be satisfactorily and absolutely secure of regaining that favour ;) to preach unto men repentance and remission of sin; and by giving himself a sacrifice and expiation for sin, to declare the acceptableness of repentance, and the certainty of pardon thereupon, in a method evidently consistent with all necessary vindication of the honour and authority of the divine laws, and with God's irreconcileable hatred against sin; to be a mediator and intercessor between God and man, to procure the particular assistance of God's holy spirit which might be in men a new and effectual principle of a heavenly and divine life; in a word, to be the Saviour and judge of mankind, and finally to bring them to eter

* See Stillingfleet's Origin. Sacræ, lib. 3. cap. 5. and Bocharti Phaleg. et Vossius de Idololatria.


PROP. nal life; all this, when clearly and expressly revealed, and by good testimony proved to be so revealed, is apparently agreeable and very credible to right and true reason. As (because it is the main and fundamental article of the Christain faith,) I shall endeavour to make out more largely and distinctly, by showing, in particular, that none of the several objections, upon which speculative unbelievers reject this doctrine, do at all prove any inconsistency in the belief of it, with sound and unprejudiced reason.

That it is


For, first, it cannot be thought unreasonable to be not unrea- believed in the general, that God should make a resonable to velation of his will to mankind, since, on the contrary, God mak. (as has been before proved at large,) it is very agreeavelation of ble to the moral attributes of God, and to the notions his will to and expectations of the wisest and most rational men that lived in the heathen world.

ing a re


That it is

sonable to

would ap


or expiation for


Secondly, it cannot be thought unreasonable to be not unrea- believed, that in such a revelation, wherein God freebelieve, ly proclaims remission of sin, and the acceptableness that God of repentance, he should nevertheless have appointed such a sacrifice or expiation for sin, as might at a sacrifice the same time be a sufficient testimony of his irreconcilable hatred against it. For though, by the light of nature, it was indeed exceeding probable and to be hoped for that God would forgive sin upon true repentance, yet it could not be proved that he was absolutely obliged to do so, or that he would certainly do so. On the contrary, there was reason to suppose, that, in vindication of the honour and dignity of his laws, he would require some further satisfaction and expiation. And accordingly we find the custom of sacrificing to have prevailed universally over the heathen world in all ages; which, how unreasonable soever an expectation it was, to think that the blood of beasts could truly expiate sin, yet thus much it plainly and undeniably shows, that it has been the common apprehension of mankind, in all ages, that God would not be appeased, nor pardon sin, without some punishment and satisfaction; and

« AnteriorContinuar »