The Improvement of Human Reason eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 137 pages of information about The Improvement of Human Reason.

Sec. 1.  Tho’ the preceeding History, upon the account of the lively Image and Representation which it gives of unspotted Virtue, unfeigned Love of God, and Contempt of the Things of this Life, does very well deserve to be read:  So, as it contains several things co-incident with the Errors of some Enthusiasts of these present Times, it deserves to be consider’d.  Upon which Account, I had no sooner suffer’d my self to be perswaded to undertake the Translation of this Book, than I determin’d to subjoin some Reflections upon such part of it as seem’d to me most worthy of Consideration.  Lest otherwise, that Book, which was by me design’d for the Innocent, and not altogether unprofitable Diversion of the Reader, might accidentally prove a means of leading some into Error, who are not capable of judging aright; and of confirming others in their Mistakes, who, through their own Weakness, or the Prejudice of a bad Education, have the Misfortune to be led out of the way.  And I was the more willing to do it, because there has been a bad Use made of this Book before.

Sec. 2.  There are a great many Errors both in his Philosophy and Divinity:  And it was impossible it should be otherwise, the one being altogether Aristotelian, the other Mahometan. I shall pass over the greatest part of them, as not being likely to do any harm; and confine my self chiefly to the Examination of this Fundamental Error of my Author, viz, That God has given such a Power or Faculty to Man, whereby he may, without any external Means, attain to the Knowledge of all things necessary to Salvation, and even to the Beatifick Vision it self, whilst in this State[33]:  In doing which I shall still have regard to the Errors receiv’d concerning these things in the present Age.

Sec. 3.  In order to this I shall examine the Ways and Means by which the People of God in all Ages, came to the Understanding of his Will.  Now ’tis evident, from the absurd Notions which the ancient Heathens had of the Deity, and their Idolatry, that Mankind was so far degenerated and deprav’d, that they had lost the true Knowledge of God, and of his Attributes, and consequently were ignorant of their Duty towards him; for which reason, God was pleas’d, out of his infinite Love and Mercy towards Mankind, to send at sundry times Prophets; that is, Men who were inspir’d by the Holy Spirit, and had the Will of God immediately reveal’d to them; to the end that they might instruct others how to serve him (the ancient Tradition receiv’d from our first Parents, and those good Men which succeeded them, being now almost worn out, and over-grown by the increasing Wickedness of the World) and thereby avoid those Judgments which would otherwise infallibly overtake them, if they continu’d in Impenitence and Disobedience.

Sec. 4.  This was the Means which the Generality of the People of God had to know his Will.  They receiv’d it from the Prophets, who had it immediately from God.  So that the Difference of their Knowledge consisted in the Manner of their receiving of it, not in the Things receiv’d, which were the same both to the Prophets and the People.  Only the Prophets receiv’d it immediately, but not the People:  for then consequently they would all have been Prophets, which it is plain they were not.

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The Improvement of Human Reason from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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