« PoprzedniaDalej »
Christian religion hath so many exterior advantages to its reputation and advancement, from the Author and from the Ministers, from the fountain of its origination and the channels of conveyance, (God being the Author, the Word Incarnate being the great Doctor and Preacher of it, his life and death being its consignation, the Holy Spirit being the great argument and demonstration of it, and the Apostles the organs and conduits of its dissemination) that it were glorious beyond all opposition and disparagement, though we should not consider the excellency of its matter, and the certainty of its probation, and the efficacy of its power, and the perfection and rare accomplishment of its design. But I consider that Christianity is therefore very little understood, because it is reproached upon that pretence, which its very being and design does infinitely confute. It is esteemed to be a religion contrary in its principles or in its precepts to that wisdom”, whereby the world is governed, and commonwealths increase, and greatness is acquired, and kings go to war, and our ends of interest are served and promoted, and that it is an institution so wholly in order to another world, that it does not at all communicate with this, neither in its end nor in its discourses, neither in the policy nor in the philosophy; and therefore, as the doctrine of the cross was entertained at first in scorn by the Greeks, in offence and indignation by the Jews, so is the whole system and collective body of Christian philosophy esteemed imprudent by
Fatis accede deisque,
the politics of the world, and flat and irrational by some men of excellent wit and sublime discourse; who, because the permissions and dictates of natural, true, and essential reason, are, at no hand, to be contradicted by any superinduced discipline, think that whatsoever seems contrary to their reason is also violent to our nature, and offers indeed a good to us, but by ways unnatural and unreasonable. And I think they are very great strangers to the present affairs and persuasions of the world, who know not that Christianity is very much undervalued upon this principle, men insensibly becoming unchristian, because they are persuaded, that much of the greatness of the world is contradicted by the religion. But certainly no mistake can be greater: for the holy Jesus by his doctrine did instruct the understandings of men, made their appetites more obedient, their reason better principled, and argumentative with less deception, their wills apter for noble choices, their governments more prudent, their present felicities greater, their hopes more excellent, and that duration, which was intended to them by their Creator, he made manifest to be a state of glory: and all this was to be done and obtained respectively by the ways of reason and nature, such as God gave to man then, when at first he designed him to a noble and an immortal condition; the Christian law being, for the substance of it, nothing but the restitution and perfection of the law of nature. And this I shall represent in all the parts of its natural progression; and I intend it not only as a preface to the following books, but for an introduction and invitation to the whole religion.
2. For God, when he made the first emanations of his eternal being, and created man as the end of all his productions here below, designed him to an end such as himself was pleased to choose for him, and gave him abilities proportionable to attain that end. God gave man a reasonable and an intelligent nature"; and to this noble nature he
• Ουκ Ιουδαϊσμός, ουχ αιρεσίς τις ετέρα, (scil. ante diluvium) αλλ', ώς ειπείν, και νύν πίστις εμπολιτευομένη εν τη άρτι αγία του Θεού καθολική εκκλησία, απ' αρχής cura, xai Urtepov nádov ánomadupleñoa.-Epiph. Panar. I. i. tom. i. num. 5.
Nihil antem magis congruit cum hominis naturâ quàm Christi philosophia, quæ penè nihil aliud agit quàm ut naturam collapsam suæ restituat innocentiæ.- Erasm. in xi. cap. Matt.
© Ratio Dei Deus est humanis rebus consulens, quæ causa est hominibus
designed as noble an end: he intended man should live well and happily, in proportion to his appetites, and in the reason-, able doing and enjoying those good things, which God made him naturally to desire. For, since God gave him proper and peculiar appetites with proportion to their own objects, and gave him reason and abilities not only to perceive the sapidness and relish of those objects, but also to make reflex acts upon such perceptions, and to perceive that he did perceive, which was a rare instrument of pleasure and pain respectively; it is but reasonable to think, that God, who created him in mercy, did not only proportion a being to his nature, but did also provide satisfaction for all those appetites and desires, which himself had created and put into him. For, if he had not, then the being of a man had been nothing but a state of perpetual affliction, and the creation of men had been the greatest unmercifulness in the world; disproportionate objects being mere instances of affliction, and those unsatisfied appetites nothing else but instruments of torment.
3. Therefore, that this intendment of God and nature should be effected, that is, that man should become happy, it is naturally necessary that all his regular appetites should have an object appointed them, in the fruition of which felicity must consist: because nothing is felicity but when what was reasonably or orderly desired is possessed ; for the having what is not desired, or the wanting of what we desired, or the desiring what we should not, are the several constituent parts of infelicity; and it can have no other constitution.
4. Now the first appetite man had in order to his great end was, to be as perfect as he could, that is, to be as like the best thing he knew as his nature and condition would permitd. And although by Adam's fancy and affection to his wife, and by God's appointing fruit for him, we see the lower appetites were first provided for; yet the first appetite which man had, as he distinguishes from lower creatures, was to be like God, (for by that the devil tempted him); and
benè beatèque vivendi, si non concessum sibi munus à summo Deo negligant. -Chalcid. ad Timæ. 16.
d 'Εν τούς φύσει δεί το βέλτιον, εάν ενδέχεται, υπάρχειν μάλλον, ή φύσις αεί ποιεί τών evdexoubvw pó Béatistov.–Arist. de Coelo.
in order to that he had naturally sufficient instruments and abilities. For although by being abused with the devil's sophistry he chose an incompetent instrument, yet because it is naturally certain, that love is the greatest assimilation of the object and the faculty, Adam by loving God might very well approach nearer him according as he could. And it was natural to Adam to love God, who was his Father, his Creator, the fountain of all good to him, and of excellency in himself; and whatsoever is understood to be such, it is as natural for us to love, and we do it for the same reasons, for which we love any thing else; and we cannot love for any other reason, but for one or both these in their proportion apprehended.
5. But because God is not only excellent and good, but, by being supreme Lord, hath power to give us what laws he pleases, obedience to his laws therefore becomes naturally, but consequently, necessary, when God decrees them ; because he does make himself an enemy to all rebels and disobedient sons, by affixing penalties to the transgressors : and therefore disobedience is naturally inconsistent, not only with love to ourselves, because it brings afflictions upon us, but with love to our supreme Lawgiver: it is contrary to the natural love we bear to God so understood, because it makes him our enemy, whom naturally and reasonably we cannot but love; and therefore also opposite to the first appetite of man, which is to be like God, in order to which we have naturally no instrument but love, and the consequents of love.
6. And this is not at all to be contradicted by a pretence that a man does not naturally know there is a God; because by the same instrument by which we know that the world began, or that there was a first man, by the same we know that there is a God, and that he also knew it too, and conversed with that God, and received laws from him. For if we discourse of man, and the law of nature, and the first appetites, and the first reasons abstractedly, and in their own complexions, and without all their relations and provisions, we discourse jejunely, and falsely, and unprofitably. For as man did not come by chance, nor by himself, but from the universal Cause, so we know that this universal Cause did do all that was necessary for him, in order to the end he appointed
him. And therefore to begin the history of a man's reason, and the philosophy of his nature, it is not necessary for us to place him there, where without the consideration of a God, or society, or law, or order, he is to be placed, that is, in the state of a thing rather than a person; but God by revelations and scriptures having helped us with propositions and parts of story relating man's first and real condition, from thence we can take the surest account, and make the most perfect derivation of propositions.
7. From this first appetite of man to be like God, and the first natural instrument of it, love, descend all the first obligations of religion; in which there are some parts more immediately and naturally expressive, others by superinduction and positive command. Natural religion I call such actions, which either are proper to the nature of the thing we worship, (such as are giving praises to him, and speaking excellent things of him, and praying to him for such things as we need, and a readiness to obey him in whatsoever he commands,) or else such as are expressions proportionate to our natures that make them; that is, giving to God the best things we have, and by which we can declare our esteem of his honour and excellency; assigning some portion of our time, of our estate, the labours of our persons, the increase of our store, first fruits, sacrifices, oblations, and tithes f; which therefore God rewards, because he hath allowed to our natures no other instruments of doing him honour, but by giving to him in some manner, which we believe honourable and apt, the best thing we have.
8. The next appetite a man hath is to beget one like himself, God having implanted that appetite into man for the propagation of mankind, and given it as his first blessing and permission : “ It is not good for man to be alone;" and “ Increase and multiply.” And Artemidorus 8 had something of this doctrine, when he reckons these two laws of nature," Deum colere, mulieribus vinci,” “ to worship God, and to be overcome by women,” in proportion to his two first
• Ου γάρ έστιν ευρεϊν της δικαιοσύνης άλλην αρχήν, ουδε άλλην γένεσιν, ή την εκ του Διός, και την έκ της κοινής φύσεως· εντεύθεν γαρ δεί πάν το τοιούτον χήν έχειν, ει μέλλομέν τι içeño wepi eya fãy kai xaxãv.—Chrysip. de Diis, 3.
Σπένδειν, και θύειν, και άπάρχεσθαι κατά τα πάτρια, εκάστους προσήκει καθαρώς, και μη επισεσυρμένως, μηδέ αμελώς, μηδε γλισχρώς, μηδε υπέρ δύναμιν.-- Epict. C. Xxxviii.
8 De Somn. Sign.