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others in words, and the ordinary ways of conveying our conceptions one to another.



may make us

know propofitions knowable also by reafon, but

not with the

fame certainty that

§. 4. Secondly, I fay, that the fame truths may be difcovered, and conveyed down from revelation, which are difcoverable to us by reason, and by thofe ideas we naturally may have. So God might, by revelation, difcover the truth of any propofition in Euclid; as well as men, by the natural use of their faculties, come to make the difcovery themselves. In all things of this kind, there is little need or use of revelation, God having furnished us with natural and furer means to arrive at the knowledge of them. For whatsoever truth we come to the clear discovery of, from the knowledge and contemplation of our own ideas, will always be certainer to us, than those which are conveyed to us by traditional revelation. For the knowledge we have, that this revelation came at firft from God, can never be fo fure, as the knowledge we have from the clear and distinct perception of the agreement or difagreement of our own ideas; v. g. if it were revealed fome ages fince, that the three angles of a triangle were equal to two right ones, I might affent to the truth of that propofition, upon the credit of the tradition, that it was revealed; but that would never amount to so great a certainty, as the knowledge of it, upon the comparing and measuring my own ideas of two right angles, and the three angles of a triangle. The like holds in matter of fact, knowable by our senses; v. g. the history of the deluge is conveyed to us by writings, which had their original from revelation: and yet nobody, I think, will fay he has as certain and clear a knowledge of the flood, as Noah that faw it; or that he himself would have had, had he then been alive and feen it. For he has no greater affurance than that of his senses, that it is writ in the book fuppofed writ by Mofes infpired: but he has not fo great an affurance that Mofes writ that book, as if he had feen Mofes write it, So that the affurance of its being a revelation is lefs ftill than the affurance of his fenfes.


cannot be admitted against the clear evidence of reafon.

§. 5. In propofitions then, whofe certainty is built upon the clear perception of the agreement or difagreement of our ideas, attained either by immediate intuition, as in felf-evident propofitions, or by evident deductions of reafon in demonftrations, we need not the affiftance of revelation, as neceffary to gain our affent, and introduce them into our minds. Because the natural ways of knowledge could fettle them there, or had done it already; which is the greateft affurance we can poffibly have of any thing, unlefs where God immediately reveals it to us: and there too our affurance can be no greater, than our knowledge is, that it is a revelation from God. But yet nothing, I think, can, under that title, shake or over-rule plain knowledge; or rationally prevail with any man to admit it for true, in a direct contradiction to the clear evidence of his own understanding. For fince no evidence of our faculties, by which we receive fuch revelations, can exceed, if equal, the certainty of our intuitive knowledge, we can never receive for a truth any thing that is directly contrary to our clear and diftinct knowledge: v. g. the ideas of one body, and one place, do fo clearly agree, and the mind has fo evident a perception of their agreement, that we can never affent to a propofition, that affirms the fame body to be in two distant places at once, however it fhould pretend to the authority of a divine revelation: fince the evidence, first, that we deceive not ourselves, in afcribing it to God; fecondly, that we understand it right; can never be fo great, as the evidence of our own intuitive knowledge, whereby we difcern it impoffible for the fame body to be in two places at once. And therefore no propofition can be received for divine revelation, or obtain the affent due to all fuch, if it be contradictory to our clear intuitive knowledge. Because this would be to fubvert the principles and foundations of all knowledge, evidence, and affent whatsoever: and there would be left no difference between truth and falfhood, no measures of credible and Incredible in the world, if doubtful propofitions fhall take place before felf-evident; and what we certainly

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know give way to what we may poffibly be mistaken in. In propofitions therefore contrary to the clear percep tion of the agreement or difagreement of any of our ideas, it will be in vain to urge them as matters of faith. They cannot move our affent, under that or any other title whatfoever. For faith can never convince us of any thing that contradicts our knowledge. Because though faith be founded on the teftimony of God (who cannot lye) revealing any propofition to us; yet we cannot have an affurance of the truth of its being a divine revelation, greater than our own knowledge: fince the whole strength of the certainty depends upon our knowledge that God revealed it, which in this cafe, where the propofition fuppofed revealed contradicts our knowledge or reafon, will always have this objection hanging to it, viz. that we cannot tell how to conceive that to come from God, the bountiful Author of our being, which, if received for true, muft overturn all the principles and foundations of knowledge he has given us; render all our faculties useless; wholly deftroy the most excellent part of his workmanship, our understandings; and put a man in a condition, wherein he will have less light, lefs conduct than the beast that perifheth. For if the mind of man can never have a clearer (and perhaps not fo clear) evidence of any thing to be a divine revelation, as it has of the principles of its own reason, it can never have a ground to quit the clear evidence of its reafon, to give a place to a propofition, whose revelation has not a greater evidence than thofe principles have.

Traditional revelation much less.

§. 6. Thus far a man has ufe of reafon, and ought to hearken to it, even in immediate and original revelation, where it is supposed to be made to himself: but to all those who pretend not to immediate revelation, but are required to pay obedience, and to receive the truths revealed to others, which by the tradition of writings, or word of mouth, are conveyed down to them; reafon has a great deal more to do, and is that only which can induce us to receive them. For matter of faith being only divine revelation, and nothing else; faith, as we use the word,


(called commonly divine faith) has to do with no propofitions, but those which are fuppofed to be divinely revealed. So that I do not fee how thofe, who make revelation alone the fole object of faith, can fay, that it is a matter of faith, and not of reason, to believe that fuch or fuch a propofition, to be found in such or such a book, is of divine infpiration; unlefs it be revealed, that that propofition, or all in that book, was communicated by divine infpiration. Without fuch a revelation, the believing, or not believing that propofition or book to be of divine authority, can never be matter of faith, but matter of reafon; and fuch as I must come to an affent to, only by the use of my reason, which cạn never require or enable me to believe that which is contrary to itself it being impoffible for reafon ever to procure any affent to that, which to itself appears unreafonable.

In all things therefore, where we have clear evidence from our ideas, and those principles of knowledge I have above-mentioned, reafon is the proper judge; and revelation, though it may in confenting with it confirm its dictates, yet cannot in fuch cases invalidate its decrees nor can we be obliged, where we have the clear and evident sentence of reafon, to quit it for the contrary opinion, under a pretence that it is matter of faith; which can have no authority against the plain and clear dictates of reason.

Things above reafon,

§. 7. But, thirdly, there being many things, wherein we have very imperfect notions, or none at all; and other things, of whofe paft, prefent, or future exiftence, by the natural ufe of our faculties, we can have no knowledge at all; thefe, as being beyond the discovery of our natural faculties, and above reafon, are, when revealed, the proper matter of faith, Thus, that part of the angels rebelled against God, and thereby loft their firft happy ftate; and that the dead fhall rife, and live again: thefe, and the like, being beyond the discovery of reafon, are purely matters of faith; with which reafon has directly nothing to do.

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or not contrary to rea

fon, if revealed, are

matter of faith.

§. 8. But fince God in giving us the light of reafon has not thereby tied up his own hands from affording us, when he thinks fit, the light of revelation in any of thofe matters, wherein our natural faculties are able to give a probable determination; revelation, where God has been pleased to give it, must carry it against the probable conjectures of reafon. Because the mind not being certain of the truth of that it does not evidently know, but only yielding to the probability that appears in it, is bound to give up its affent to fuch a teftimony; which, it is fatisfied, comes from one who cannot err, and will not deceive. But yet it still belongs to reason to judge of the truth of its being a revelation, and of the fignification of the words wherein it is delivered. Indeed, if any thing fhall be thought revelation, which is contrary to the plain principles of reason, and the evident knowledge the mind has of its own clear and diftinct ideas; there reafon muft be hearkened to, as to a matter within its province: fince a man can never have fo certain a knowledge, that a propofition which contradicts the clear principles and evidence of his own knowledge, was divinely revealed, or that he understands the words rightly wherein it is delivered; as he has, that the contrary is true: and fo is bound to confider and judge of it as a matter of reason, and not fwallow it, without examination, as a matter of faith.

§. 9. First, whatever propofition is revealed, of whose truth our mind, by its natural faculties and notions, cannot judge; that is purely matter of faith, and above reason.

Revelation in matters where reafon cannot

judge, or but probably, ought to be

hearkened to..

Secondly, all propofitions, whereof the mind, by the use of its natural faculties, can come to determine and judge from naturally acquired ideas, are matter of reafon; with this difference fill, that in thofe concerning which it has but an uncertain evidence, and fo is perfuaded of their truth only upon probable grounds, which still admit a poffibility of the contrary to be true, without doing violence to


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