Abbildungen der Seite

by an immediate and necessary connexion with something formerly known: for, being every natural cause actually applied doth necessarily produce its own natural effect, and every natural effect wholly dependeth upon, and absolutely presupposeth its own proper cause; therefore there must be an immediate connexion between the cause and its effect. From whence it follows, that if the connexion be once clearly perceived, the effect will be known in the cause, and the cause by the effect. And by these ways, proceeding from principles evidently known by consequences certainly concluding, we come to the knowledge of propositions in mathematics, and conclusions in other sciences; which propositions and con'clusions are not said to be credible, but scientifical; and the comprehension of them is not faith, but science.

Besides, some things there are, which, though not evident of themselves, nor seen by any necessary connexion to their causes or effects, notwithstanding appear to most as true by some external relations to other truths; but yet so, as the apa pearing truth still leaves a possibility of falsehood with it, and therefore doth not incline to an assent. In which case, whatsoever is thus apprehended, if it depend upon real arguments, is not yet called credible, but probable; and an assent to such a truth is not properly faith, but opinion.

But when any thing propounded to us is neither apparent to our sense, nor evident to our understanding, in and of itself, neither certainly to be collected from any clear and necessary connexion with the cause from which it proceedeth, or the effects which it naturally produceth, nor is taken up upon any real arguments, or reference to other acknowledged truths, and yet notwithstanding appeareth to us true, not by a mani festation, but attestation of the truth, and so moveth us to assent not of itself, but by virtue of the testimony given to it; this is said * properly to be credible ; and an assent unto this, upon such credibility, is in the proper notion faith or belief.

Having thus defined and illustrated the nature of faith in general, so far as it agreeth to all kinds of belief whatsoever, our method will lead us on to descend by way of division, to the several kinds thereof, till at last we come to the proper notion of faith in the Christian's confession, the design of our present disquisition; and being we have placed the formality of the object of all belief in credibility, it will clearly follow, that diversity of credibility in the object, will proportionablý cause a distinction of assent in the understanding, and consequently a several kind of faith, which we have supposed to be nothing else but such an assent.

Now the credibility of objects, by which they appear fit to be believed, is distinguishable according to the diversities of its foundation, that is, according to the different authority of the testimony on which it depends: for we having no other

* Ai did Tūv paprópwv øgduoc TiOTELS. Aristot. probl. sect. 18. 3.

certain means of assuring ourselves of the truth, and consequently no other motives of our assent in matters of mere belief, than the testimony upon which we believe; if there be any fundamental distinction in the authority of the testimony, it will cause the like difference in the assent, which must needs bear a proportion to the authority of the testimony, as being originally and essentially founded upon it. It is therefore necessary next to consider, in what the authority of a testimony consisteth, and so to descend to the several kinds of testimonies founded upon several authorities,

The strength and validity of every testimony must bear proportion with the * authority of the testifier; and the authority of the testifier is founded upon his ability and integrity: his ability in the knowledge of that which he delivereth and asserteth; his integrity in delivering and asserting according to his knowledge. For two several ways he which relateth or tes. tifieth any thing may deceive us : one, by being ignorant of the truth, and so upon that ignorance mistaking, he may think that to be true which is not so, and consequently deliver that for truth which in itself is false, and so deceive himself and us; or if he be not ignorant, yet if he be dishonest or unfaithful, that which he knows to be false he may propound and assert to be a truth, and so, though himself be not deceived, he may deceive us. And by each of these ways, for want either of ability or integrity in the testifier, whoso grounds his assent unto any thing as a truth, upon the testimony of another, may equally be deceived.

But whosoever is so able as certainly to know the truth of that which he delivereth, and so faithful as to deliver nothing but what and as he knoweth, he, as he is not deceived, so de ceiveth no man. So far, therefore, as any person testifying appeareth to be knowing of the thing he testifies, and to be faithful in the relation of what he knows, so far his testimony is acceptable, so far that which he testifies is properly credible, And thus the authority of every testifier or relater is grounded upon these two foundations, his ability and integrity.

Now there is in this case, so far as it concerns our present design,t a double testimony : the testimony of man to man, relying upon human authority, and the testimony of God to man, founded upon divine authority: which two kinds of testimony are respective grounds of two kinds of credibility, human and divine; and, consequently, there is a twofold faith distinguished by this double object, a human and a divine faith.

Tó yàp rolóv tiva palveodai tòv tiones, et responsa sacerdotum, aru, Néyovra, mloteúouevo TOŪTO łotiv, âv spicum,conjectorum: humanum, quod ảyados palvnrai, û evvovs, û äupw. spectatur ex auctoritate, et ex volunAristot. Rhet. 1. i. c. 8.

tate, et ex oratione aut libera aut ex+ • Testimoniorum quæ sunt gene- pressa; in quo insunt scripta, pacta, ra? Divinum et humanum. Divinum, promissa, jurata, quæsita. Cic. Orat. ut oracula, ut auspicia, ut vaticina- Partit. c. 2.


Human faith is an assent unto any thing credible merely upon the testimony of man. Such is the belief we have of the words and affections one of another. And upon this kind of faith we proceed in the ordinary affairs of our life; according to the opinion we bave of the ability and fidelity of him who relates or asserts any thing we believe or disbelieve. By this a friend assureth himself of the affection of his friend; by this the * son acknowledgeth his father, and upon this is his obedience wrought. By virtue of this human faith it is that we doubt not at all of those things which we never saw, by reason of their distance from us, either by time or place. Who doubts whether there be such a country as Italy, or such a city as Constantinople, though he never passed any of our four seas? Who questions now whether there were such a man as Alexander in the east, or Cæsar in the west? And yet the latest of these hath been beyond the possibility of the knowledge of man these sixteen hundred years. There is not science taught without original belief, there are not letters learnt without preceding faith. There is no justice executed, no commerce maintained, no business prosecuted, without this;& all secular affairs are transacted, all great achievements are attempted, all hopes, desires, and inclinations, are preserved, by this human faith grounded upon the testimony of man.

In which case we all by easy experience may observe the nature, generation, and progress, of belief. For in any thing which belongeth to more than ordinary knowledge, we believe not him whom we think to be ignorant, nor do we assent the more for his assertion, though never so confidently delivered: but if we have a strong opinion of the knowledge and skill of any person, what he affirmeth within the compass of his knowledge, that we readily assent unto; and while we have no other ground but his affirmation, this assent is properly belief. Whereas, if it be any matter of concernment in which the interest of him that relateth or affirmeth any thing to us is considerable, there it is not the skill or knowledge of the relater which will satisfy us, except we have as strong an opinion of his fidelity and integrity: but if we think him so just and honest, that he has no design upon us, nor will affirm any thing contrary to his knowledge for any gain or

* Non dicant, non credimus, quia é mlothuns ý riotis. Theodor. Therap, non vidimus; quoniam, si hæc dicant, Serm. l. coguntur fateri incertos sibi esse Pa 1 Ουδέ γάρ τα πρώτα στοιχεία μαθείν rentes suos.' De fide rerum invisib. ołóv te un to ypau patiotÕ TETLOTEVKóta. §. 4. amongst the works of St. Au- Ibid. gustin.

και Πάντα τα εν τω κόσμω τελούμενα, Αυτόν γάρ ουδείς οίδε, του ποτ' εγένετο και τα υπό των αλλοτρίων της εκκλησίας AM Tovooõpev Trávtes, Ñ Florevojev. Tỹ TÍOTEL TeleTraL. S. Cyril. Hier.Catech. Menander apud Stob. ap. Eustath. in 5. Orig. cont. Celsum, 1. i. §. 11. Hom. p. 1412, 14.

præp. Evang, 1. i. c. 5. Arnob, adver. * Υποβάθρα μέντοι και κρηπίς της Gen. 1. ii.

[ocr errors]

advantage, then we readily assent unto his affirmations; and this assent is our belief. Seeing then our belief relies upon the ability and integrity of the relater, and being the knowledge of all men is imperfect, and the hearts of all men are deceitful, and so their integrity to be suspected, there can be no infallible universal ground of human faith.

But what satisfaction we cannot find in the testimony of man, we may receive in the testimony of God; “If we receive the witness of man, the witness of God is greater.” (1 John v. 9.)* Yea," let God be true,” the ground of our divine, " and every man a liar," (Rom. iii. 4.) the ground of our human faith.

As for the other member of the division, we may now.plainly perceive that it is thus to be defined: Divine faith is an assent unto something as credible upon the testimony of God. This assent is the highest kind of faith, because the object hath the highest credibility, because grounded upon the testimony of God, which is infallible. Balaam could tell Balak thus much,“ God is not a man, that he should lie;" (Numb. xxiii. 19.) and a better prophet confirmed the same truth to Saul; “ The Strength of Israel will not lie;" (1 Sam. xv. 29.) and because he will not, because he cannot, he is the Strength of Israel, even “ my God, my strength, in whom I will trust.” (Psal. xviii. 2.) : For, First, God is of infinite knowledge and wisdom, as Hannah hath taught us, “The Lord is a God of knowledge,”+ (1 Sam. ii. 3.) or rather, if our language will bear it, of knowledges, which are so plural, or rather infinite in their plurality, that the Psalmist hath said, “ Of his understanding there is no number.” (Psal. cxlvii. 5.) He knoweth therefore all things, neither can any truth be hidden from his knowledge, who

is essentially truth, and essentially knowledge, and, as so, the cause of all other truth and knowledge. Thus the understanding of God is infinite in respect of comprehension, and not so only, but of certainty also and evidence. Some things we are said to know which are but obscurely known, we see them but as in a glass or through a cloud: but“ God is light, and in him is no darkness at all:” (1 John i. 5.) he seeth without any obscurity, and whatsoever is propounded to his understanding is most clear and evident; "neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight; but all things are naked and open unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” (Heb. iv. 13.) Wherefore, being all things are within the

Quam indignum, ut humanis † . testimoniis de alio credamus : Dei yvárewv Kúplos: oraculis de se non credamus!' S.

. Ambros. lib. de Abraham, c. 3. IIwg op § 'Cujus sapientia simpliciter mulουκ ευλογώτερον, πάντων των ανθρωπίνων tiplex, et uniformiter multiformis, inπίστεως ήρτημένων εκείνων, μάλλον πι- comprehensibili comprehensione omOTEVELV Jego; Orig.cont. Cels. I. i. nia incomprehensibilia comprehendit.' §. 11.

S. August. de Civit. Dei, 1. xii. c. 18.

LXX . ecdc אל דעות יהוה + לתבונתו אין מספר

.f In the Heb

compass of his knowledge; being all things which are so, are most clear and evident unto him; being the knowledge he hath of them is most certain and infallible; it inevitably followeth that he cannot be deceived in any thing.

Secondly, The justice of God is equal to his knowledge, nor is his holiness inferior to his wisdom: “A God of truth (saith Moses) and without iniquity, just and right is he.” (Deut. xxxii. 4.) From which internal, essential, and infinite rectitude, goodness, and holiness, followeth an impossibility to declare or deliver that for truth which he knoweth not to be true. For if it be against that finite purity and integrity which are required of man, to lie, and therefore sinful, then must we conceive it absolutely inconsistent with that transcendent purity and infinite, integrity which is essential unto God. Although therefore the power of God be infinite, though he “ can do every thing ;” (Job xlii. 2.) yet we may safely say, without any prejudice to his omnipotence,* that he cannot speak that for truth which he knoweth to be otherwise. For the perfections of his will are as necessarily infinite as those of his understanding ; neither can he be unholy or unjust, more than he can be ignorant or unwise. • If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful, he cannot deny himself.” (2 Tim. ii. 13.) Which words of the apostle, though properly belonging to the promises of God, yet are as true in respect of his assertions ; neither should be more deny himself in violating his fidelity, than in contradicting his veracity. It is true, that God willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath; that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation :" (Heb. vi. 17, 18.) but it is as true, that all this confirmation is only for our consolation; otherwise it is as impossible for God to lie, without an oath, as with one: for being he can “swear by no greater, he sweareth only by himself,” (Heb. vi. 13.) and so the strength even of the oath of God relieth upon the veracity of God. Wherefore being God, as God, is of infinite rectitude, goodness, and holiness; being it is manifestly repugnant to his purity, and inconsistent with his integrity, to deliver any thing contrary to his knowledge: it clearly followeth, that he can. not deceive any man.

It is therefore most infallibly certain, that God being infinitely wise, cannot be deceived ;being infinitely good, cannot deceive:S and upon these two immoveable pillars standeth the authority of the testimony of God. For since we can

* Aúvarai xao' quãs távra é Oeds, de Civ. Dei, 1. xxii. c. 25. άπερ δυνάμενος, τού θεός είναι, και αγα I Ut sit omnium potens, mori non Oos elvai, kai copòs elvai, our ttiotarar. potest, falli non potest, mentiri non Orig. contra Celsum, 1. iii. Ş. 70. potest.' S. August. de Symb. ad Cate

† Si velint invenire quod omni- chum. 1. i. c. 1. potens non potest; habent prorsus, ego § Deus facere fraudem nescit, pati dicam, mentiri non potest.' S. August. non potest. Chrysol. Serm. 62.

« ZurückWeiter »