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MYSTERIES OF SCRIPTURE.
F we seek for any thing in the dark by so low a faculty of discerning as the sense of feeling, or by the sense of seeing with a dim light, sometimes we cannot find it ; though it be there, it seems to us to be impossible that it should be there. But yet, when a clear light comes to shine into the place, and we discern by a better faculty, viz. of sight,
or the same faculty in a clearer manner, the thing appears very plain to us. $o, doubtless, many truths will hereafter appear plain, when we come to look on them by the bright Tight of heaven, that now are involved in mystery and dark,
2: How are we ready to trust to the determinations of a man, that is universally reputed a man of great genius, of vast penetration and insight into things, if he be positive in any thing that appears to us very mysterious, and is quite contrary to what we thought ourselves clear and certain in before ? How are we ready in such a case to suspect ourselves ; especially if it be a matter wherein he has been very much versed ; has had much more occasion to look into it thạn we; and has been under greater advantages to know the truth ? How much more still, if one should be positive in it, as a thing that he had clearly and undoubtedly seen to be true, if he were still of ten times greater genius, and of a more penetrating insight into things, than any that ever have appeared ? And, in matters of fact, if some person whom we had long known, that was a person of great judgment and discretion, justice, integrity and fidelity, and had always been universally so reputed by others, should declare to us, that he had seen and known that to be true which appeared to us very strange and mysterious, and concerning which we could not see how it yvas possible that it should be ; how, in such a case, should we be ready almost to suspect our own faculties, and to give credit to such a testimony, in that which, if he had not positively asserted it, and persisted in it, we should have looked upon as perfectly incredible, and absurd to be supposed ?
3. From that text, John iii. 12, “ If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things ?" several things are manifest concerning mysteries in religion. (1.) That there are mysteries in religion, or that there are things contained in those doctrines that Christ came into the world to teach, which are not only so far above human comprehension, that men cannot easily apprehend all that is to be understood concerning them ; but which are difficult to the understanding, in that sense, that they are difficult to be received by the judgment or belief: “ How shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things ?" Difficult, upon the same account that the doctrine of the new birth was difficult to Nicodemus, because it was so strange, and seemingly impossible. (2.) We may from the words infer, that the more persons or beings are, in themselves, and in their own nature, above us, the more that the doctrines or truths concerning them are mysterious to us, above our comprehension, and difficult to our belief ; the more do those things that are really true concerning them, contain seeming inconsistencies and impossibilities. For Christ, in the preceding verses, had been speaking of something that is true concerning man, being of the same nature, an inhabitant of the same world with ourselves ; which, therefore, Christ calls an earthly thing. And this seemed very mysterious and impossible, and to contain great seeming inconsistencies. He says, “ How can a man be born when he is old ?" This seemed to be a contradiction. And after Christ had somewhat ex. plained himself, still the doctrine seemed strange and impos. sible ; v. 9, “ How can these things be?" Nicodemus still looked upon it incredible ; and, on that account, did not believe it at that time, as is implied in these words of Christ ; « If I have told you earthly
things, and ye believe not.” But Christ here plainly signifies, that he had other truths to teach that were not about man, an earthly inhabitant, but about a
person vastly above man, even about himself, who is from heaven, and in heaven, as in the next yerse : “ And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven; even the Son of man which is in heaven." Which, therefore, it would be most reasonable to suppose, should be much more difficult to men's understanding and judgment, seeming to contain greater impossibilities and inconsistencies; as he then proceeds immediately to declare to him an heavenly thing, as he calls it, viz. that Christ, an heavenly and divine person, should die ; ver, 14, 15. Such a mysterious doctrine, so strange, and seemingly inconsistent and impossible, that a divine person should die, is more strange than that men should be born again. Hence, when divines argue, from the mysterious nature of many things here below, with which we are daily conversant, that it would be very unreasonable to suppose but that there should be things concerning God which are much more mysterious ; and that, therefore, it is unreasonable to object against the truth of the doctrines of the Trin, ity, Incarnation, &c....they argue justly, because they argue as Christ argued.
4. The viser heathens vere sensible, that the things of the gods are so high above us, that no other is to be expected, than that what appertains to them should appear exceedingly mysterious and wonderful to us; and that it is therefore unreasonable to disbelieve what we are taught concerning them on that account. This is fully expressed by that great symbol of Pythagoras, viz. “ Concerning the gods, disbelieve nothing wonderful, nor yet concerning divine things." This, says Jamblicus, declareth the superlative excellency of God's instruct, ing us, and puts us in mind, that we ought not to estimate the divine power by our own judgment. The Pythagoreans stretched this rule beyond the line of divine revelation, to the belief of every oriental tradition.” Gale's Court of the Gentiles, p. 2. b. 2. c. 8, p. 190.
5. It is not necessary that persons should have clear ideas of the things that are the subject of a proposition, in order to their being rationally convinced of the truth of the proposition. There are many truths of which mathematicians are