Friday, November 25, 2016

Conviction and love as "motives of Faith"

"That Divine Revelation is infallible, is an acknowledg'd Principle by all Men: for natural Reason dictates that unerring Wisdom, and infinite Goodness, are essential perfections of God; so that he cannot be deceived, nor deceive those that trust in his Word.  The proofs of the truth of Christian Religion are of a moral nature; and though not of equal clearness with the testimonies of Sense, or a Mathematical Demonstration, yet are so pregnant and convincing, that the considering dispassionate spirit fully acquiesces in them.  A Mathematical Demonstration brings so strong a Light that the Mind cannot suspend its assent, but is presently overcome by the naked propounding of the Object:  And hence it is that in Mathematical matters, there are neither Infidels nor Hereticks.  But the motives of Faith are such, that although the Object be most certain, yet the Evidence is not so clear and irresistible, as that which flows from Sense, or a Demonstration.  And 'tis the excellent observation of Grotius, God has wisely appointed this way of perswading Men the truth of the Gospel, that Faith might be accepted as an act of Obedience from the reasonable Creature.  For the Arguments to induce belief, though of sufficient certainty, yet do not so constrain the mind to give its assent, but there is prudence and choice in it.  Not that the Will can make a direct impression upon the Mind, that it should comply with its desire, and see what it does not see. It cannot make an obscure Object to be clear to its perception, no more than it can change the colour of visible things, and make what appears green to the Eye to seem red. But the mind enlightned by sufficient Reasons that the Christian Religion is from God, represents it so to the Will, and the Will, if sincere and unbiast by carnal affections, commands the Mind not to disguise the Truth, to make it less credible, nor to palliate with specions colours the pretences of Infidelity. And thus the belief of it results from conviction and love."

     William Bates, The divinity of the Christian religion (London:  JD, 1677), 41-43, as quoted by David Wootton, The invention of science:  a new history of the scientific revolution (New York:  HarperCollins Publishers, 2015), 422, and supplemented on both ends by the TCP, above.

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