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ed upon? which ground I am carefully to
examine, in order to see whcther it is a pro-
per foundation for such opinion ; if I find it
to be so, I assent to it, not because it is uni-
versally assented to, but because it appears to
me to be well grounded, independent of such
universal aflent. If I find it to be otherwise,
the question will be, What must I do? Must
I judge of the case according to the strength
of the evidence, as it appears to my mind,
or must I give up my understanding in com-
plaisance to universal opinion. Not the latter,
surely, because the ground of afsent does not
become a whit the stronger, by its having
obtained universal afsent ; nor is it more so,
than if it had obtained afsent from one mind
only; or even than if it had gained no asent
at all. Suppose the reasons, upon which the
Ptolemaick system of astronomy was ground-
ed, had obtained universal assent; would that
system have been well grounded, because the
reasons upon which it was grounded had been
universally admitted ? and ought universal
opinion to have determined the judgment of
Copernicus, against the strongest and most
obvious reasons to the contrary ? Surely, not.
If the advocates for special grace should
tack about, and say, that by grace is not

meant

meant any new power that is given to men ; but only that the Deity does particularly, and specially, interpose and dispose men to make a proper use of the abilities they already have, which otherwise, or without such a divine interpofition, they would not be disposed to do: Answer : This is in reality giving up the doctrine of special grace we have had under confideration, and introducing another fort of special grace

grace in it's place and stead. And, as to this new fort of special grace, if the Deity does by it any otherways dispose men to do their duty, (if it may be called duty, which is greatly improper) than by disposing them, by motives of persuason, to make a proper use of the powers they have, this would be destructive of human agency; because, so far as force takes place, agency is displaced, and in all such cases man is a mere pasive subject ; he does not act, but is acted upon. And, if this sort of grace consists only in furnishing men with proper motives of persuasion, to dispose them to do their duty; then, in this, it enters upon the province of another fort of Special grace, which by way of distinction I call the second fort ; viz. external divine revelation, commonly called the christian revelation; whose proper province it is, or, at least,

it

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it is said to be, (by general, if not universal, opinion among christians) to lay before men those motives of persuasion as are proper to dispose them to do their duty, which motives of persuasion, without external divine revelation,men could not have attained to and therefore, without such external divine revelation, they must have been destitute of them. So that, in this case, it is pulling down one sort of special grace, to set up another ; it is taking from the special grace of external divine revelation, by setting up a third sort of special grace to supply it's place, and to answer it's purposes. Thus, when men have taken from the human constitution, those powers and capacities, which the author of nature has furnished it with, and compounded it of; then, they introduce what they call special grace, to repair the injury.

But farther, I beg leave to repeat an observation that I have already made, (perhaps more than once in the course of my wriţings) because, I think, it is what my readers should always remember, and govern their judgments by ; viz. that in the determinations they come to concerning the truth of any propofition, or fact, such determinations ought to correspond with, and be

pro

proportionate to the strength and clearness of the evidence upon which they are grounded; and, that where certainty cannot be attained, our judgments ought to be directed and

governed by probability ; and, as probability may be greater, or less, so where the greater degree of probability appears, it ought to determine our judgments to that side of the question, to which the greater degree of probabiliy stands related; and, that our afsent ought to be stronger, or weaker, in proportion to the greater, or less degree of probability, which is the ground of that affent. This, I think, ought to be the case ; and. herein, I apprehend, lies the propriety, rectitude, or morality of faith, if it may be expressed thus. But then, by the term faith is here meant the bare act of assent to the truth of a proposition, or fact, abstracted from any rectitude of action that may be previous to it, or fonfequent upon it; whether that affent be grounded on sensible evidence, or on demonstration, (which may, perhaps, come under the denomination of science or knowledge) or whether it be grounded on any other kind of evidence. I am sensible, that in opposition to what I have thus frequently observed, it is pre

tended,

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tended, that the excellency and merit of faith arises from, and bears a proportion, rather to the weakness, than to the strength of the evidence

upon

which it is grounded. And, this opinion is founded upon the words of Christ to St. Thomas, -John xx. 29. Jesus said unto him, Thomas, because thou hart feen me, thou hast believed; blessed (or more blessed] are they who have not seen, and yet have believed. Now, if the faith that is founded on the testimony of others, is more worthy, more blessed, than the faith that is founded on the testimony of a man's own senses, as in the instance referred to; then, the consequence is clear, viz. that the virtue and merit of faith arises from, and bears a proportion, rather to the weakness, than to the strength of the evidence upon which it is grounded. Wherefore, I observe, that if this were the case, viz. that to believe upon weak evidence is more valuable, than to believe the same thing upon evidence that is stronger ; then, by parity of reason, to believe without evidence must be more meritorious, than to believe upon weak evidence;

nd then, to believe against evidence must be still more valuable, than to believe without evidence; the very stating of which case

süf.

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