Page images
PDF
EPUB

vinced of his Refurrection, by those very Means which He himself required as a Proof of it; Reach hither thy Finger, fays He, and behold my my Hands; and reach bither thy Hand, and thruft it into my Side; and be not faithless, but believing. Too glaring was this Evidence to admit of any farther Doubt, and the Sincerity of the Apostle broke forth into this short, but full of affectionate, Confeffion; My Lord and my God! My Lord, for that thou art the very Jefus, whofe Disciple I am, my Senfes do most demonstratively prove; and my God, for my Faith does moft ftrongly infer, that no Power lefs than Almighty, could be able to raise you up from the Dead; this you foretold you yourfelf would do by your own Power, and this I now find moft miraculously compleated. Thus was St. Thomas even overpowered by the Fulnefs of the Conviction, as tho' the over-curious Eye fhould prefume to gaze directly at the Brightness of the Meridian Sun, and refufe to admit any Light, but that which comes in fuch Proportions as will dazle and confound the Faculties; convinced

indeed he was, and convinced in his own Way, yet he was rebuked for not believing upon fufficient, tho' inferior, Evidence, than that which he had required. Jefus faith unto him, Thomas, because thou haft feen me, thou haft believed; bleffed are they which have not feen, and yet bave believed. This is the Connection of the Words before us with the Context : The Ufe I intend to make of them at this Time is,

I. To discover the different Degrees
of Evidence, in which the Matters
of Fact recorded in the Holy Gof-
pel have been propofed to human
Affent, and then we fhall difcover
particularly the Grounds upon which
our Belief is built; fome fee and be-
lieve, and fome believe, though they
fee not.

II. I SHALL Confider the fuperior
Bleffednefs of those who have not
Seen, and yet have believed, above
those, who require the Evidence of
Senfe to engage their Affent to
thefe Articles of our Faith.

ist, THEN,

[ocr errors]

ift, THEN, let us confider the different Degrees of Evidence, in which the Matters of Fact recorded in the Holy Gospel have been proposed to human Affent ; by which means we shall particularly discover the Grounds upon which our Belief of them is built, fome fee and believe; fome believe, tho' they fee not.

ALL Evidence relating to Matters of Fact, is either receiv'd from our Senfes, or from the Testimony of others; the Evidence of Senfe is certainly of an higher Nature than that other Sort, and confequent ly demands an higher Degree of Affent; but Matters of Fact, which can in their own Nature be but once acted over, muft be communicated to far the greater Part of the World under the latter fort of Evidence; and here Circumftances muft be taken into Confideration, and the Degrees of our Affent must be proportioned to the Degrees of the Evidence given us concerning them: Things which we ourfelves fee carry a greater Conviction than if we had them barely related to us; those Things again, of which Multitudes of People bear concurrent Teftimony, are

more credible than if a fingle Perfon only was to declare them. Truths indeed are all equally true, but the Circumstances under which they are propofed to our Affent, are various both in Kind and Degree Every Truth will not admit of Demonftration, nor the fame Truth be demonftrable to different Perfons. When therefore we have arriv'd at the beft, provided it be a fufficient, Evidence, that the Nature of things will allow, we ought to reft fatisfied with the Discovery, and give our Affent to the Truths thus propofed to us. Thefe Notions of Evidence and Affent are so obvious, so univerfally receiv'd in common Life, that Deviations from them would be conftrued the groffeft Abfurdities: To disbelieve that fuch Men as Authentick History informs us of, ever exifted, because we did not fee them, would be as ridiculous as to disbelieve the Exiftence of thofe Men ourfelves have seen and been acquainted with; because the Teftimony concerning them is full and evincing, and indeed the only Froof we are able to procure ; and tho' this Sort of Evidence does not

amount

[ocr errors]

amount to an abfolute Certainty; yet a moral indifputable Certainty it is, such as leaves no Room for Doubts and Scruples to any unprejudic'd Perfon, it being a Certainty which refults from the Teftimony of those, whofe Abilities and Sincerity we are fatisfied about, who could not` themselves be impofed upon, and who would not impose upon others. If we allow there may be a natural Poffibility of being deceiv'd, yet if fuch a bare Poffibility was always a fufficient Reason of Disbelieving, there would very few Circumftances of Life remain, which the Uncertainty of Diffidence would not cut off from the Pleasures and Advantages which a more implicit Faith fupplies us with: All Hiftory of diftant Times and Regions would be fuperfluous and impertinent, if Belief were confined to the narrow Sphere of Sense; and human Intercourfe would foon be stopp'd, if the Principle of trufting to nothing less than Demonftration was to take place. The Sum of what has been faid amounts to thus much; Matters of Fact must be proposed to our Affent two Ways, either VOL. I. by

H

« PreviousContinue »