Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

opinion we have 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 hisobedience 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 nof letters learnt without preceding faith. There is no justice executed, no commerce maintained, no business prosecuted, without this ;g 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 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

* • Non dicant, non credimus, quia non vidimus; quoniam, si bæc dicant, coguntur fateri incertos sibi esse Parentes suos.' De fide rerum invisib. 5. 4. amongst the works of St. Augustin.

Αυτόν γαρ ουδείς οίδε, του ποτ' εγένετο

'Αλλ' υπονοούμεν πάντες, και πιστεύομεν. Menander apud Stob. ap. Eustath. in Hom. p. 1412, 14.

+ Υποβάθρα μέντοι και κρηπίς της επιστήunsń nistis. Theodor. Therap. Serm. 1.

+ ουδέ γάς τα πρώτα στοιχεία μαθείν οίόν τε μή τα γραμματιστή πεπιστευκότα. Ιbid.

και πάντα τα εν τω κόσμω τελούμενα, και τα υπό των αλλοτρίων της εκκλησίας τη πίστει TERETAI. S. Cyril. Hier. Catech. 5. Orig. cont. Celsum, 1. i. $. 11. Eus. de præp. Evang. I. i. c. 5. Arnob. adver. Gen. 1. ii.

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," (Roin. 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 compass of his knowledge; being all things which are sc, 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.

לתבונתו אין מספר

Quam indignum, ut humanis testimoniis de alio credamus : Dei oraculis de se non credamus!' S. Ambros. lib. de Abraham, c. 3. Πώς δ' ουκ ειλογώτερον, πάντων των ανθρωπίνων πίστεως ήρτημένων, , εκείνων, μάλλον πιστεύειν τα θεω; Orig. . cont. Cels. I. i. f. 11.

† 1717 myr 5x LXX. Osos gráce v Kúpios, # In the Heb.

Ý Cujus sapientia simpliciter multi. plex, et uniformiter multiformis, incomprehensibili comprehensione omnia incomprebensibilia comprehendit.' S. August. de Civit. Dei, 1. xii. c. 18.

xxxii. 4.) From which internal, essential, and infinite rectitude, goodness, and holines3, 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.t 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 his respect of his assertions; neither should he 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 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 cannot deceive any man.

It is therefore most infallibly certain, that God being infinitely wise, cannot be deceived f being infinitely good, cannot deceive :and upon these two immoveable pillars standeth the authority of the testimony of God. For since we cannot doubt of the witness of any one, but by questioning his ability, as one who may be ignorant of that which he affirmeth, and so deceived; or by excepting against his integrity, as one

affirm that which he knoweth to be false, and so have a purpose to deceive us: where there is no place for either of these exceptions, there can be no doubt of the truth of the tes

can

who may

Δύναται δε καθ' ημάς πάντα ο Θεός, άπερ δυνάμενος, του Θεός είναι, και αγαθός είναι, και σοφός είναι, ουκ εξίσταται. Orig. cmllra Celsum, 1. iii. $. 70.

t". Si velint invenire quod omnipotens non potest ; habent prorsus, ego dicam, mentiri non potest. S. August. de Civ.

Dei, l. xxii. c. 25.

• Ut sit omnium potens, mori non potest, falli non potest, mentiri non potest.' S. August. de Symb. ud Catechum. 1. i. c. 1.

• Deus facere fraudem nescit, pati non potest.' Chrysol. Serm. 62.

timony. But where there is an intrinsical* repugnancy of being deceived in the understanding, and of deceiving in the will, as there certainly is in the understanding and will of God, there can be no place for either of those exceptions, and consequently there can be no doubt of the truth of that which God testifieth. And whosoever thinketh any thing comes from him, and assenteth not unto it, must necessarily deny him to be wise or holy: “He that believeth not God (saith the apostle), hath made him a liar.” (1 John v. 10.) That truth then which is testified by God, hath a divine credibility: and an assent unto it, as so credible, is divine faith. In which the material object is the doctrine which God delivereth, the formal object is that credibility founded on the authorityt of the deliverer. And this I conceive the true nature of divine faith in general.

Now being the credibility of all which we believe is founded upon the testimony of God, we can never be sufficiently instructed in the notion of faith, till we first understand how this testimony is given to those truths which we now believe. To this end it will be necessary to give notice that the testimony of God is not given unto truths before questioned or debated; nor are they such things as are at first propounded and doubted of by man, and then resolved and confirmed by interposing the authority of God: but he is then said to witness when he doth propound, and his testimony is given by way of Revelation, which is nothing else but the delivery or speech of God unto his creatures. And therefore upon a diversity of delivery must follow a difference, though not of faith itself, yet of the means and manner of assent.

Wherefore it will be farther necessary to observe, that divine Revelation is of two kinds, either immediate, or mediate. An immediate Revelation is that by which God delivereth himself to man by himself, without the intervention of man. A mediate Revelation is the conveyance of the counsel of God unto man by man. By the first he spake unto the prophets; by the second in the prophets, and by them unto us. Being then there is this difference between the revealing of God unto the prophets and to others, being the faith both of prophets and Others relieth wholly upon divine Revelation, the difference

• Auctoritas Dei consistit in intrinseca repugnantia deceptionis seu falsitatis, quam habet divinum judicium, et in intrinseca repugnantia actus voluntatis imperantis testimonium extrinsecum non consentiens judicio interno; quæ per terminos positivos aclus intellectus infallibiliter veri, et actus voluntatis intrins ece et necessario recti, poterit explicari.' Francisc. de Ovied. Tract, de Fide, Contr. ii. pune. 2.

† Divina est auctoritas, cui credimus: divina est doctrina, quam sequimur.' Leo,

Serm. 7. in Nativ.

1.Sicut duplex est auditus et locutio, scilicet exterior sive corporalis, et interior ac spiritualis; ita duplex est fides, una quæ oritur in cordibus fidelium per auditum exteriorem, cum scil. Deus per aliquos homines aliis credenda proponit; et ista est fides, quæ nobis sive communi statui fidelium convenit, ex eo quod adhæremus revelationibus Prophetis et Apostolis factis : alia est quæ oritur in aliqui. bus per spiritualem locutionem, qua Deus aliquibus per internam inspirationem cre

of the manner of assent in these several kinds of believers will be very observable for the explanation of the nature of our

faith. Those then to whom God did immediately speak himself, or by an angel representing God, and so being in his stead, and bearing his name (of which I shall need here to make no distinction), those persons, I say, to whom God did so reveal himself, did, by virtue of the same Revelation, perceive, know, and assure themselves, that he who spake to them was God; so that at the same time they clearly understood both what was delivered, and by wbom : otherwise we cannot imagine that Abraham would have slain his son, or have been cummended for such a resolution, had he not been most assured that it was God who by an immediate Revelation of his will clearly commanded it. Thus" by faith Noah being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark, to the saving of his house :” (Heb. xi. 7.) which *warning of God was a clear Revelation of God's determination to drown the world, of his will to save him and his family, and of his command for that end to build an ark. And this Noah so received from God, as that he knew it to be an oracle of God, and was as well assured of the author as informed of the command. Thus the judgments hanging over Judab were revealed in the ears of Isaiah “ by the Lord of hosts.” (Isa. xxii. 14.) Thus “the Lord revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh :” (1 Sam. iii. 21.) at first indeed he knew him not; that is, when the Lord spake, he knew it not to be the voice of God: “Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord; neither was the word of the Lord yet revealed unto him;” (1 Sam. iii. 7.) but after that he knew him and was assured that it was He who spake unto him, the Scripture teaching us that the tears of Samuel were revealed, and the Iword of God revealed, and God himself revealed to him. By all which we can understand no less, than that Samuel was so illuminated in his prophecies, that he fully understood the words or things themselves which were delivered, and as certainly knew that the deliverer was God: so Samuel the Seer, so the rest of those prophets believed those truths revealed to them by such a faith as was a firm assent unto an object credible upon the immediate testimony of God.

But those faithful people to whom the prophets spake, believed the same truth, and upon the testimony of the same God, delivered unto them not by God, but by those prophets, whose words they therefore assented unto as certain truths, because denda rerelat, nullo hominis ministerio by God: o regreres xo7, o di avOpatos mayutens ; sicut est fides Apostolorum et Pro TE:ST. Moschopulus, 'Orop. 'ATTIK, 1. phetarum, qui ab ipso Deo per intrinse Xáæ. cam illuminationem sunt de credendis in + Tr xx bg Kipues à exástruct. Francisc. Ferrariensis in Thom. dolo to dzies Sauva, 1 Sam. ix. 15. coni, Gent. c. 40.

7 . * 11.-T32 Xua tesis, which word comes duplirai aita pua kupi, 1 Sam. iii. 7. from the original xxéx, appropriated by

å the Greeks to aa oracle, or answer giren spis Sausera, 1 Sam. iii. 21.

.iTexa ל ו טרס ינלי אלי יני יהוה :

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »