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Subject of reasonable Christian Faith, because it CHA P. is the Object of Reason, as well as Faith, ever XVIII. since Scripture has revealed it to Reason.
IV. LET it especially be observed, that the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, notwithstanding they are revealed, are revealed but IN PART. The Part that is indeed revealed or made known to its proper Faculty, the Understanding, is so far now not a Secret ; but a most edifying Ground, and the substantiallest Reason for Piety and Virtue, that ever was exhibited to the World. And so far as it is discover'd, is become a Matter of common Knowledge, and firm Asent of the understanding Faculty, which is, in a great Measure, the true Import of Faith in Scripture. There is the bright, and there is the shady Side of the Mystery, the oó Sztön, and the tò ãýpytov; one the sublunary ulu-fructuary Part for the present Occasion of bringing us to Heaven ; the other the distant, dark, impervious Side reserv'd to another State ; to which we assent in the general Method of giving Credit to God, that whatever he certainly speaks of his own Nature, is certainly true, and may be useful to us hereafter by a more perfect Disclosure, in the Vision of God; a Vision that is the Chriftian’s reversionary Knowledge and Fruition of Mystery. Had no part been disclosed, there had been no Notion at all engendred; but enough is open'd to kindle Desire, and stir up human Endeavour, and completely do the Business of a Notion in part ; which, in Truch, is all the Notion that we Men, who are Notion-guided Creatures, have either of Things Natural, or Reveal'd.
CH A P.
1. As to Things reveal'd, the Apostles themselves' writing in che true Sublime, or most intelligible Character, that belongs to such Things as they respect us at prelent, confess, that they knew bui IN PART and prophesied (i. c. instruct others, as Prophecy often signfies in Scripture, and especially in that Scripture, 1 Cor. xiv. 1. Covet earnestly the best Gifts, but rather that ye prophesy, i.e. teach; which is the standing, the useful, and most edifying Talent unto others) IN PART: Afiigning the Reason from the Constitution of Things according to the Will of God; when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away, 1 Cor. xiii. 9, 10. And if the very Secretaries and Amanuenses of chose Celestial Discoveries speaking of Mysteries and Knowledge, spake so of themselves, at the time they were inspired with the Holy Ghost, who led them into all Truth, how much more Reason have we to acquiesce in a partial Apprehension, and deem it fufficiently profitable for us? The Understanding in part, which is the Measure of our Faith and the Portion allotted to us at present, is a very' contentable Knowledge; there is enough and to fpare for our real Service, and its Views upon us; and what shou'd we do with more than enough, or why desire it? And the Excellency of it is, that it is very obvious, and very fruitful. Whilst arduous Speculations soaring in Theory, and in lofty Clouds, and like the aqueous Drops of Rain boyant and floating there, of no use at all to us, till they descend to water the Capacity of common Fruitfulness. If the great and eloquent Apostle wou'd rather speak five Words to the Churches of God, con
cerning things whereby we must be saved, with CH A P. the Understanding, and to the Understanding, XVIII. that he might teach others also ; ihan ten thousand Words in an unknown Tongue; is it not better for us Readers, and Students of his Words, to measure the Meaning by the profess’d Design, which is to profit withal ? And to receive such as worthy of all Acceptation, concerning the Points of Salvation, as give us an Understanding of the Matter, by arguing plainly what is our Interest and Concern therein, and the Manner how we are to profit withal ? and to prefer such before ten thousand Volumes of intricate Disputation, which are all, with respect to the Business of profiting, to almost all People, in an unknown Tongue, tho' wrote in that wherein they were born.
" There was none of the Doctrines of our « Saviour calculated for the Gratification of “ Mens idle Curiosity, the bufying and amusing “ them with airy and useless Speculations ; much « less were they intended for an Exercise of “ Credulity, or a Trial how far we could bring
our Reason to submit to Faith : But, as on “ the one Hand they were plain and simple, “ and such as by their Agreeableness to the ra“ tional Faculties of Mankind, did highly re« commend themselves to our Belief; fo on the “ other Hand they had an immediate Relation
to Practice, and were the genuine Principles “ and Foundations upon which all human and “ divine Virtues were naturally to be super« structed * "
* Archbishop of York's Serm. before the Queen, Christmas, Day, 1704 VOL. II.
С НА Р.
God, who is perfect in all his Works, and
which is kept secret, or, that it is useless for us to be appriz’d of it in this Life présent: Better therefore lock'd up by him, who does all things for the belt, whilst the useful Part is display'd and made known. And we have clear distinct Ideas, and may talk as intelligibly of that Part of the Mystery, as of any other plain thing; so that -none need be at a Lofs to give a Reason of the Hope that is in them.
Tho' we, who were sometime Darkness, are Now Light in the Lord, and his Revelation is put into our Hands as a Telescope for a clearer Insight into divine and heavenly Things, yet we know very well that where the Telescope shews what we could not see without it, it does not thew all : But still it is, as the Scripture acquaints us, we see through a Glass darkly. The concern
ing edifying Part wherein we are interested, Mines bright like the Sun, and our Heart burns within us, when we cordially converse with it; whilft the other twinkles like the more distant fix'd Stars. And if an ordinary magnifying Glass can make such Discoveries here to our bodily Eyes of a new World of invisible Insects and Seeds, &c* (incredible if it had been written
By means of that excellent Instrument. [Microscope] we have a far greater Number of different kinds of Things « reveal'd to us, than were contain'd in the visible Universe Los before.", Hif. R. S. pag. 384. And I would add, that
ör reported: only, and the Invention of those CHAP. magnifying Glasses had never been communi- XVIII. cated to the World) what vast felicitating Difcoveries remain in the next World, có the Spirit of Man beholding God Face to Face? If the Defect is in our present imperfect Faculties, it is plain, we shall never be able, in this Life, to attain the vainly aspiring Knowledge of the Manner how. When we arrive at higher Degrees of Knowledge, and Revelation in another World, the Manner will be manifest, and we shall be Compreherders of the whole Mystery; which put us in mind to be contented, at present, to be Apprehenders of the Thing in general, and its best Ule.
THE Scriptures never design'd to give Information farther than serves to qualify us in a godly, sober, righteous Life, in order to lead us to the Happinefs to which we were ordain'd ; by raising the active Faculties of our Understanding and Will, of our Love, Hope, Fear, to the securing our Obedience to him, from the affecting Consideration of the Interest we have in his most gracious Transactions with us; not by Exhibitions of his Elence, Substance, &c. things above our Comprehension in this Life ; but of his great Goodness in creating, redeeming, preserving us; his Power, his Dominion, his Wifdom as a Governor, his Legislature over our Thoughts, Words and Actions, his present Inspection over, and future Account in judging us : all which we understand to an Accuracy, and
the Grandeur and Almightiness of the skill of the Divine Architect, is no less seen in those invisible Myriads, than in the groffer Objects of his framing.