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(p. 71.)

[The Bible an instrument of Man’s probation.]

MULTA enim propter exercendas rationales mentes figurata et obscure posita.”—Aug. De Unit. Eccl. c. v.—“Obscuritates Divinarum Scripturarum quas exercitationis nostræ causâ Deus esse voluit.”—Id. Ep. lix. ad Paulinum, tom. ii. p. 117.

“The evidence of Religion not appearing obvious, may constitute one particular part of some men’s trial, in the religious sense: as it gives scope, for a virtuous exercise, or vicious neglect of their understanding, in examining or not examining into that evidence. There seems no possible reason to be given, why we may not be in a state of moral probation, with regard to the exercise of our understanding upon the subject of Religion, as we are with regard to our behaviour in common affairs. The former is as much a thing within our power and choice as the latter.”

* * * *

“Nor does there appear any absurdity in supposing, that the speculative difficulties, in which the evidence of Religion is involved, may make even the principal part of some persons’ trial. For as the chief temptations of the generality of the world are the ordinary motives to injustice or unrestrained pleasure; or to live in the neglect of Religion from that frame of mind, which renders many persons almost without feeling as to any thing distant, or which is not the object of their senses: so there are other persons without this shallowness of temper, persons of a deeper sense as to what is invisible and future; who not only see, but have a general practical feeling, that what is to come will be present, and that things are not less real for their not being the objects of sense; and who, from their natural constitution of body 261and of temper, and from their external condition, may have small temptations to behave ill, small difficulty in behaving well, in the common course of life. Now when these latter persons have a distinct full conviction of the truth of Religion, without any possible doubts or difficulties, the practice of it is to them unavoidable, unless they will do a constant violence to their own minds; and religion is scarce any more a discipline to them, than it is to creatures in a state of perfection. Yet these persons may possibly stand in need of moral discipline and exercise in a higher degree, than they would have by such an easy practice of religion. Or it may be requisite for reasons unknown to us, that they should give sonic further manifestation what is their moral character, to the creation of God, than such a practice of it would be. Thus in the great variety of religious situations in which men are placed, what constitutes, what chiefly and peculiarly constitutes, the probation, in all senses, of some persons, may be the difficulties in which the evidence of religion is involved: and their principal and distinguished trial may be, how they will behave under and with respect to these difficulties.”—Bishop Butler’s Analogy, P. II. ch. vi. (ed. 1833,) p. 266. and pp. 274-5.

Further on, (p. 277,) Butler has the following note:—

Dan. xii. 10. See also Is. xxix. 13, 14: St. Matth. vi. 23, and xi. 25, and xiii. 11, 12. St. John iii. 19, and v. 44: 1 Cor. ii. 14, and 2 Cor. iv. 4: 2 Tim. iii. 13; and that affectionate as well as authoritative admonition, so very many times inculcated, ‘He that hath ears to hear lot him hear.’ Grotius saw so strongly the thing intended in these and other passages of Scripture of the like sense, as to say, that the proof given us of Christianity was less than it might have been for this very purpose: ‘Ut ita sermo Evangelii tanquam lapis esset Lydius ad quem ingenia sanabilia explorarentur.’ (De Verit. R. C. lib. ii. towards the end.)”

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