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the certain evidence of its own knowledge, and overturning the principles of its own reafon; in fuch probable propofitions, I say, an evident revelation ought to determine our affent even against probability. For where the principles of reafon have not evidenced a propofition to be certainly true or falfe, there clear revelation, as another principle of truth, and ground of affent, may determine; and fo it may be matter of faith, and be also above reason. Because reason, in that particular matter, being able to reach no higher than probability, faith gave the determination, where reafon came fhort; and revelation discovered on which fide the truth lay.

In matters where reason can afford certain knowledge, that is to be hearkened to.

S. 10. Thus far the dominion of faith reaches, and that without any violence or hindrance to reafon; which is not injured or disturbed, but affifted and improved, by new discoveries of truth coming from the eternal fountain of all knowledge. Whatever God hath revealed is certainly true; no doubt can be made of it. This is the proper object of faith but whether it be a divine revelation or no, reafon must judge; which can never permit the mind to reject a greater evidence to embrace what is lefs evident, nor allow it to entertain probability in oppofition to knowledge and certainty. There can be no evidence, that any traditional revelation is of divine original, in the words we receive it, and in the fense we understand it, so clear and so certain, as that of the principles of reason and therefore nothing that is contrary to, and inconfiftent with, the clear and felf-evident dictates of reason, has a right to be urged or affented to as a matter of faith, wherein reafon hath nothing to do. Whatsoever is divine revelation ought to over-rule all our opinions, prejudices, and intereft, and hath a right to be received with full affent. Such a fubmiffion as this, of our reason to faith, takes not away the land-marks of knowledge: this shakes not the foundations of reason, but leaves us that ufe of our faculties, for which they were given us.

If the boun


§. 11. If the provinces of faith and readaries be not fon are not kept diftinct by thefe bounda

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faith and rea fon, no enthufiafm or extravagancy in religion

can be contradicted.

ries, there will, in matters of religion, befet between
no room for reafon at all; and thofe extra-
vagant opinions and ceremonies that are to
be found in the feveral religions of the
world, will not deferve to be blamed. For,
to this crying up of faith, in oppofition to
reason, we may, I think, in good measure
afcribe thofe abfurdities that fill almost all the religions
which poffefs and divide mankind. For men having
been principled with an opinion, that they must not
confult reafon in the things of religion, however appa-
rently contradictory to common fenfe, and the very
principles of all their knowledge; have let loose their
fancies and natural fuperftition; and have been by them
led into so strange opinions, and extravagant practices
in religion, that a confiderate man cannot but stand
amazed at their follies, and judge them fo far from be-
ing acceptable to the great and wife God, that he can-
not avoid thinking them ridiculous, and offenfive to a
fober good man. So that in effect religion, which
should most distinguish us from beafts, and ought most
peculiarly to elevate us, as rational creatures, above
brutes, is that wherein men often appear most irrational
and more fenfelefs than beafts themselves.
quia impoffibile eft;" I believe, because it is impoffible,
might in a good man pass for a fally of zeal; but would
prove a very ill rule for men to choose their opinions or
religion by.

§. I.



Of Enthufiafm.

E that would seriously set upon the search of truth, ought in the first place to prepare his mind with a love


Love of truth neceffary.

of it. For he that loves it not, will not take much pains to get it, nor be much concerned when he miffes it. There is nobody in the commonwealth of learning,


who does not profess himself a lover of truth; and there is not a rational creature that would not take it amifs to be thought otherwise of. And yet for all this, one may truly fay, that there are very few lovers of truth for truth-fake, even amongst those who perfuade themselves that they are fo. How a man may know whether he be fo in earneft, is worth inquiry: and I think there is one unerring mark of it, viz. the not entertaining any propofition with greater affurance, than the proofs it is built upon will warrant. Whoever goes beyond this measure of affent, it is plain, receives not truth in the love of it; loves not truth for truth-fake, but for fome other bye-end. For the evidence that any propofition is true (except fuch as are felf-evident) lying only in the proofs a man has of it, whatsoever degrees of affent he affords it beyond the degrees of that evidence, it is plain that all the furplufage of affurance is owing to fome other affection, and not to the love of truth: it being as impoffible, that the love of truth should carry my affent above the evidence there is to me that it is true, as that the love of truth fhould make me affent to any propofition for the fake of that evidence, which it has not, that it is true; which is in effect to love it as a truth, because it is poffible or probable that it may not be true. In any truth that gets not poffeffion of our minds by the irrefiftible light of felf-evidence, or by the force of demonftration, the arguments that gain it affent are the vouchers and gage of its probability to us; and we can receive it for no other, than fuch as they deliver it to our understandings. Whatsoever credit or authority we give to any propofition, more than it receives from the principles and proofs it fupports itself upon, is owing to our inclinations that way, and is fo far a derogation from the love of truth as fuch: which, as it can receive no evidence from our paffions or interests, so it fhould receive no tincture from them.

A forwardnefs to dictate, from whence.

§. 2. The affuming an authority of dictating to others, and a forwardness to prescribe to their opinions, is a conftant concomitant of this biafs and corruption of our Judgments. For how almost can it be otherwife, but


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that he should be ready to impofe on another's belief, who has already imposed on his own? Who can reafonably expect arguments and conviction from him, in dealing with others, whofe understanding is not accuftomed to them in his dealing with himself? Who does violence to his own faculties, tyrannizes over his own mind, and ufurps the prerogative that belongs to truth alone, which is to command affent by only its own authority, i. e. by and in proportion to that evidence which it carries with it.

§. 3. Upon this occafion I fhall take the


liberty to confider a third ground of affent, Forge of enwhich with fome men has the fame authority, and is as confidently relied on as either faith or reafon; I mean enthusiasm: which, laying by reason, would fet up revelation without it. Whereby in effect it takes away both reason and revelation, and substitutes in the room of it the ungrounded fancies of a man's own brain, and affumes them for a foundation both of opinion and conduct.

Reafon and


§. 4. Reason is natural revelation, whereby the eternal father of light, and fountain of all knowledge, communicates to mankind that portion of truth which he has laid within the reach of their natural faculties: revelation is natural reason enlarged by a new set of discoveries communicated by God immediately, which reafon vouches the truth of, by the teftimony and proofs it gives, that they come from God. So that he that takes away reason, to make way for revelation, puts out the light of both, and does much-what the fame, as if he would perfuade a man to put out his eyes, the better to receive the remote light of an invifible ftar by a telescope.

§. 5. Immediate revelation being a much eafier way for men to establish their opi- Rife of ennions, and regulate their conduct, than the

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tedious and not always fuccefsful labour of strict reasoning, it is no wonder that fome have been very apt to pretend to revelation, and to perfuade themselves that they are under the peculiar guidance of heaven in their actions and opinions, especially in those of them which VOL. II.



they cannot account for by the ordinary methods of knowledge, and principles of reafon. Hence we fee that in all ages, men, in whom melancholy has mixed with devotion, or whofe conceit of themselves has raised them into an opinion of a greater familarity with God, and a nearer admittance to his favour than is afforded to others, have often flattered themselves with a perfuafion of an immediate intercourfe with the Deity, and frequent communications from the Divine Spirit. God, I own, cannot be denied to be able to enlighten the understanding by a ray darted into the mind immediately from the fountain of light; this they understand he has promised to do, and who then has fo good a title to expect it as those who are his peculiar people, chosen by him, and depending on him?


§. 6. Their minds being thus prepared, whatever groundless opinion comes to settle itself strongly upon their fancies, is an illumination from the spirit of God, and prefently of divine authority and whatsoever odd action they find in themselves a strong inclination to do, that impulfe is concluded to be a call or direction from heaven, and must be obeyed; it is a commiffion from above, and they cannot err in executing it.

§. 7. This I take to be properly enthufiafm, which, though founded neither on reafon nor divine revelation, but rifing from the conceits of a warmed or over-weening brain, works yet, where it once gets footing, more powerfully on the perfuafions and actions of men, than either of thofe two, or both together: men being most forwardly obedient to the impulfes they receive from themselves; and the whole man is fure to act more vigorously, where the whole man is carried by a natural motion. For ftrong conceit, like a new principle, carries all eafily with it, when got above common fenfe, and freed from all reftraint of reafon, and check of reflection, it is heightened into a divine authority, in concurrence with our own temper and inclination.

Enthusiasm miftaken for fecing and


§. 8. Though the odd opinions and extravagant actions enthufiafm has run men into, were enough to warn them againft this wrong principle, fo apt to mifguide


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