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called zioteis, by a metonymy, because they are apt to beget a persuasion concerning the cause maintained, its being good or bad, true or false. But according to a more restrained and artificial acception, (artificial I call it, because it is peculiar to men of art, and invented by the school, to the purpose of distinguishing such assent or persuasion into several kinds, whereof they make belief in one kind distinct from those others which are grounded upon experience, or apparence to sense ; or upon rational inference, according to which acception,) belief doth precisely denote that kind of assent, which is grounded merely upon the authority (the dictate or testimony) of some person asserting, relating, or attesting to the truth of any matter propounded; the authority, I say, of some person: which implies two things ; 1. That such a person hath, de facto, asserted or attested the matter ; 2. That his qualifications be such, that his affirmation should in reason have an influence upon our minds, and incline them to consent; for that he is both able to inform us rightly, and willing to do it; is so wise, that he doth know; and so just, that he will speak according to his knowledge, and no otherwise. And this authority (which by reason of the author's qualities mentioned is called credible ; that is, such, as in some measure is apt in a well-disposed understanding to beget such an assent to the truth of what is deposed) is one kind of argument (distinct from those which are drawn from experience, or from principles of reason, before known or admitted by us) whereby persuasion concerning the truth of any proposition (concerning either matter of fact, or any doctrine) is produced in our minds : and according to the de.
grees of our asurance, either concerning the fact, that the author doth indeed assert the matter; or concerning the person's qualifications, (rendering his authority credible,) are the degrees of our belief proportioned; it is more strong and intense, or weak and remiss; we are confident or doubtful concerning the matter: if we plainly can perceive by our sense, or have great rational inducements to think, that such an assertion proceeds from such an author; and then by like evidence of experience or reason are moved to think him not liable himself to be deceived, nor disposed to deceive us, then we become strongly persuaded; believe firmly, in proportion to the validity of the said grounds.
It is now to be determined according to which of these two acceptions the belief we here profess is to be understood : and to my seeming, we should adequately mean, according to the first, the more general and vulgar notion : that, I say, we profess to be persuaded in our minds, concerning the truth of the propositions annexed, not implying our persuasion to be grounded upon only one kind of reason, that drawn from authority; but rather involving all reasons proper and effectual for the persuasion of all the points jointly, or of each singly taken. In this notion I understand the word, for these reasons.
1. Upon a general consideration ; because the ancient teachers of our religion, both as being themselves men not seen in subtility of speculation, nor versed in niceties of speech, (used by men of art and study,) and as designing chiefly to instruct the generality of men, (for the greatest part being simple and gross in conceit,) could not or would not use words otherwise than according to their most common and familiar acception. They did not employ ανθρωπίνης
nation of the Jews no logicians.
2 Pet. i. 16.
copias dózous, terms devised by human wisdom for 1 Cor. ii. 4.
σεσοφισμένοι extreme accuracy and distinction ; but expressed uuto. their conceptions in the most vulgar and best un-Devised too derstood language.
times; for 2. Because we find that de facto the word TitevELY this schois used by them (in scripture, I mean) according to ception is this general notion; that is, so as to signify indifferently all kind of persuasion, having regard to the particular ground thereof. Thomas would not believe that our Saviour was risen, except he discerned visible marks, distinguishing his person from others : he did so, and then believes: whereupon our Saviour saith, Thou believest, because thou hast seen : John xx 29. blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed: we see that faith may be grounded upon sense. And, If I do not the works of my Father, saith our John x: 37. Saviour, believe me not: but if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works. Our Saviour requires them not to rely upon his bare testimony concerning himself, but to consider rationally the quality of his works; and upon that to ground their faith : which kind of persuasion seems grounded rather upon principles of reason, than any authority. The devils, St. James tells us, do believe there is one God: how Jam. ii. 19. so ? because they know it by experience, rather than upon any relation or testimony given to them. And you know, He that comes to God, must believe that Heb. xi. 6. he is; that is, must be persuaded of God's existence, by arguments proper to enforce such assent. For I argue further,
3. That the belief of the first and main article of this Creed, that there is a God, cannot be grounded only upon authority; human authority cannot alone suffice to prove so great a point; and divine author
ity doth presuppose it : for how can we believe that God doth this or that; that he hath revealed his mind to us; that he teaches us so or so, before we believe that he is ? The belief of the subject must precede the belief of any attribute or action belonging to it: the belief therefore of God's existence is properly grounded upon other arguments, beside authority. Yea, further,
4. The belief of other main points, not expressed indeed, but understood and supposed as the foundation of our believing all the other articles thereof, doth depend upon more than bare authority : as for instance, the belief of God's veracity, (taken most largely, as including his infallible wisdom, and his perfect sincerity or fidelity ;) the truth of God's having actually revealed his mind to us by Jesus and his apostles, and by all the prophets before; (or the truth of Christianity itself in gross, as also of ancient Judaism :) the truth of the holy scriptures : the validity of general tradition and common consent of the Christian churches instructed by the apostles, so far as they may conduce to the probation of any of these articles: these things, I say, we must be persuaded of, as grounds of our believing all the other articles, not immediately deducible from principles of reason: and yet none of these points can properly be grounded upon mere authority: to prove God is veracious because he saith so, or that revelation in general must be trusted from particular re
velations, are petitiones principii, most inconclusive 1 John iv.1. and ineffectual discourses. Spirits are to be tried, formed by use of our senses and of our reasons ; and therefore virtually and mediately the belief of whatever relies upon such foundations doth depend upon them, and not upon bare authority.
and revelations themselves are to be examined, before we can upon their word believe any particular doctrine avouched by them: this must be per
5. I will add, lastly, that if we consider the manner how the faith of the first Christians was produced, we may perhaps also perceive that even their faith was not merely founded upon authority, but relied partly upon principles of reason, taking in the assistance and attestation of sense. They that beheld the sincerity and innocency of our Saviour's conversation; the extraordinary wisdom and majesty of his discourses; the excellent goodness and holiness of his doctrine; the incomparably great and glorious power discovered in his miraculous works, (withal comparing the ancient prophecies concerning such a person to come with the characters and circumstances of his person,) were by these considerations persuaded, not merely by his own testimony, that our Saviour himself did not so much insist upon, but rather disclaimed it, as insufficient to beget faith; If I witness of myself, my witness is not true ; John v. 36. (not true; that is, not credible :) you were not obliged to accept my testimony as true, if it were not also accompanied with other convincing reasons. It was by such a syllogism as this, that believers did then argue themselves into faith upon our Saviour: He that is so qualified, (doth so live, so speak, so work; so admirably in himself, so agreeably to prophecies foregoing,) his pretences cannot reasonably be deemed false; it is just that we assent to his words: But we plainly see and experience Jesus to be so qualified, (so to live, to speak, to do :) Therefore it is just and reasonable we believe him. This