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infidelity. Suppose a man to have divested himself of partiality and prejudice, and to have honestly enquired into the truth and divinity, both of the Christian and the Mahometan revelations, and suppose the produce of such enquiry to be faith in the Christian, and infidelity, with respect to the Mahometan revelation ; then, the question would be, whether infidelity, with regard to the Mahom metan revelation, be not equally valuable and moral, as faith in the Christian ? And, the answer, I presume, will be, that one of these is as valuable as the other; or, rather, that the morality, in each case, was not so much relative to faith, nor infidelity, as to that reftitude of action which was distinct from, and previous to both. And, let it be admitted, for argument fake, that the reverse of this was the cafe; namely, that the produce of such enquiry was faith in the Mahometan, and infidelity with respect to the Christian revelation ; and then, the question will be, whether faith and infidelity in this latter cafe, be not equally valuable and morcl, 'as faitli and infidelity in the former? And the anfwer, I think, will be, that the latter would be equally valuable, equally moral with the former: I say, I think, the answer will be this,
(except the judgment be strongly biased, by fome unreasonable prejudice, which is supposed to have been St. Thomas's case;) because infidelity is equally as valuable, or moral, as faith, when they are equally well grounded. And, as faith is plainly distinct from that rectitude of action which is previous to it; so, surely, what is proper and peculiar to one of these, ought not to be applied to the other; and yet, I think, the blending together, or incorporating of these, and then, making what is proper and peculiar to a part, relative to the whole, is that upon which the strength of Mr. Foster's reasoning, and the weight of his
argument depends. And as, in the difquisition of all questions of this nature, great care ought to be taken, in guarding against all hurtful errors; so, in order thereto, I think, we must not only distinguish betwixt faith, and what is previous to it, but also betwixt faith, and what may be confequent upon it. Suppose a man to divest himself of
partiality and prejudice, and carefully and candidly to enquire, whether there will be a fucture state of existence to men, and a future retribution; and suppose the produce of such enquiry to be faith in both these, and that such faith was proper, as being proportionate
to the evidence upon which it was grounded; and suppose likewise, that the believer, in consequence of his faith, was led to repent of the evil of his ways, to cease to do evil, and learn to do well; then, tho' there would be a propriety, or worthiness in his faith, and in his behaviour precedent to it; yet, the principal worthiness, or merit of the case, would not be relative to these, but to that rectitude of mind and life which was consequent to them ; and, it would be this chiefly that would render the believer pleasing and acceptable to his Maker. For, if the faith before mentioned should have no such good effect upon the mind and behaviour of the believer, but he still goes on in a vicious course, and lives as if there would be no future state, 120 future retribution, which may be, and, perhaps, sometimes is the case; then, such a believer, notwithstanding the propriety of his faith, and of his condu&t previous to it, would be unacceptable to God; and his conduct, upon the whole, would be so far from entitling him to a blesning, that, on the contrary, it would bring upon him a most grievous curse. But further, the propriety and worthiness that
may take place in faith, and in that rectitude of action which may be previ
cus to it, these rise no higher than a virtuous or proper selfishness; he that enquireth, ens quireth for himself, and he that believeth, bea lieveth for himself; and not for another; and the worthiness of these fall infinitely short, if I
may so speak, of that worthiness which is relative to a virtuous, godlike benevolence, or what one agent generously does for another. What an agent does for himself, it carries with it it's own reward; what an agent generously does for others, renders him worthy of recompence or reward from all.
As the case of St. Thomas has been under consideration, I think, it may not be amiss to observe, that the branch of history, wherein that case is contained, seems to be of doubtful authority ; because it seems, at least, to contradikt, in two points, the other histories, wherein the refurrection of Christ is recorded; and thereby it seems to weaken the cause it is brought to support, viz. the doctrine of Christ's resurrection. The purpose Christ's resurrection was immediately directed to, was his qualifying his disciples, by giving them proper instructions for preaching his gospel to the world; and his commisioning or authorizing them to execute that trust. And the doing of this properly, seems to have required
that he should fully have instructed them first, and then commissioned them afterwards ; this last act being the finishing part, or that which concluded and put a period to his ministry among them. And it seemed also to require, that, when the commisfion * was given, all should be present which were designed to act under it ; because otherwise the absent persons would have no commiffion at all; and it seems very strange,that Christ Thould have chose a time for giving this commission, when any one person was absent, who was intended to act by virtue of it's authority; these points are what the nature and propriety of the thing seem to call for. And as the account of the resurrection of Christ is contained in five histories; fo four of them make Christ's giving the aforesaid commifsion the last ministerial act he performed to his disciples, except his blessing them when he was parted from them. And as to the
* That Christ should give a commission to his disciples, and that five historians should take upon them to transmit this commission to posterity in the very words of Chrift; and yet should all differ from each other with respect to it, is exceeding strange, and fnews a defect of memory, or something else. This commiffion was of such concern, that one would have thought it should have been so strongly impressed upon the minds of those that heard it, as never to have been forgot, in whole, or in part.