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2. But certainty of evidence hath various degrees; none doubteth but there are various degrees of evidence ; all the doubt is whether any but the highest may be called certainty.
And here let the reader first remember that the question is but de nomine,' of the name, and not the thing. And next, the evidence is called certain, because it is certifying aptitudinally. It is apt to certify us.
3. And then the question will be devolved to subjective certainty, whether it have various degrees. For if it have so, then the evidence must be said to have so, because it is denominated respectively from the apprehensive certainty.
And here . de re' it must be taken as agreed, 1. That certainty is a certain degree of apprehension. 2. That there are various degrees of apprehension. 3. That no man on earth hath a perfect intellectual apprehension, at least, of things moral and spiritual; for his apprehension may be still increased, and those in heaven have more perfect than we.
4. That there are some degrees so low and doubtful, as are not fit to be called certainty.
5. That even these lowest degrees with the greatest doubting, are yet often true apprehensions ; and whenever they are true they are infallible, that is, not deceived: therefore this infallibility, which is not to be deceived, is indeed one sort of certainty, which is so denominated relatively from the natural truth or certainty of the object; but it is not this sort of certainty which we inquire after.
6. Therefore it followeth that this subjective certainty containeth this infallible truth of per
ception and addeth a degree which consisteth in the satisfaction of the mind.
7. But if the mind should be never so confident and satisfied of a falsehood, this deserveth not the name of certainty, because it includeth not truth. For it is a certain perception of truth which we speak of ; and confident erring is not certainty of the truth.
8. As therefore the degrees of doubting are variously overcome, so there must needs be various degrees of certainty.
9. When doubting is so far overcome, as that the mind doth find rest and satisfaction in the truth, it may be called certainty. But when doubting either is prevalent, and so troublesome as to leave us wavering, it is not called certainty.
10. It is not the forgetting or neglect of a difficulty or doubt, nor yet the will's rejecting it, which is properly called certainty. This quieteth the mind indeed, but not by the way of ascertaining evidence.
Therefore ignorant people that stumble upon a truth by chance with confidence, are not therefore certain of it. And those that take it upon trust from a priest or their parents, or good people's opinions, are not there. fore certain of it. Nor they that say as some Papists, ‘Faith hath not evidence, but is a voluntary reception of the Church's testimony, and meritorious, because it hath not evidence; therefore though I see no cogent evidence, I will believe, because it is my duty.' Whether this man's faith may be saving or no, I will not now dispute ; but certainly it is no certainty of apprehension. He is not certain of what he so believeth. This is but to cast away the doubt or difficulty, and not at all by certainty to overcome it.
11. When a man hath attained a satisfying degree of perception, he is capable still of clearer perception. Even as when in the heating of water, after all the sensible cold is gone, the water may grow hotter and hotter still. So after all sensible doubting is gone the perception may grow clearer still.
12. But still the objective certainty is the same; that is, there is that evidence in the object which is . in suo genere' sufficient to notify the thing to a prepared mind.
13. But this sufficiency is a respective proportion; and therefore, as it respecteth man's mind in common, it supposeth that by due means and helps, and industry, the mind may be brought certainly to discern this evidence. But if you denominate the sufficiency of the evidence, from its respect to the present disposition of men's minds, so it is almost as various as men's minds are. For “recipitur ad modum recipientis ;' and that is a certifying, sufficient evidence of truth, to one man, which to a thousand others is not so much as an evidence of probability. Therefore mediate and immediate sufficiency and certainty of evidence, must be distinguished.
From all this I may infer, 1. That though God be the original and end of all verities, and is ever the first .in ordine essendi et efficiendi,' and so à Jove princìpium, in methodo syntheticâ ;' yet he is not the primum notum,' the first known, ' in ordine cognoscendi, nor the beginning in methodo inquisitivâ' (though in such analytical methods as begin at the ultimate end, he is also the first). Though all truth and evidence be from God, yet two things are more evident to man than God is, and but two : viz. The present objects of sense; and our own internal acts, of intellective cogitation and volition. And these being supposed, the being of God is the third evident certainty in the world.
2. If it be no disparagement to God himself, that he is less certainly known of us, than sensi. bles, and our internal acts, de esse,' it is then no disparagement to the Scripture, and supernatural truths, that they are less certainly known; seeing they have not so clear evidence as the being of God hath.
3. The certainty of the Scripture truths is mixed of almost all other kinds of certainty conjunct. 1. By sense and intellective perception of things sensed, the hearers and see’rs of Christ and his apostles, knew the words and miracles. 2. By the same sense we know what is written in the Bible, and in Church History concerning it, and the attesting matters of fact; and also what our teachers say of it. 3. By certain intellectual inference I know that this history of the words and fact is true. 4. By intellection of a natural principle I know that God is true. 5. By inference I know that all his word is true. 6. By sense I know (intellectually receiving it by sense) that this or that is written in the Bible, and part of that Word. 7. By further inference therefore I know that it is true. 8. By intuitive knowledge, I am certain that I have the love of God, and heavenly desires, and a love of holiness, and hatred of sin, &c. 9. By certain inference I know that this is the special work of the Spirit of Christ by his Gospel doctrine. 10. By experience I find the predictions of this Word fulfilled. 11. Lastly, By inspiration the prophets and apostles knew it to be of God. And our certain belief ariseth from divers of these, and not from any one alone.
4. There are two extremes here to be avoided, and both beld by some, not seeing how they contradict themselves.
I. Of them that say that faith hath no evidence, but the merit of it lieth in that we believe without evidence. Those that understand what they say, when they use these words, mean that things evident to sense, as such, that is, incomplex sensible objects are not the objects of faith, “We live by faith and not by sight." God is not visible: heaven and its glory, angels and perfected spirits are not visible. Future events, Christ's coming, the resurrection, judgment, are not yet visible: it doth not yet appear (that is, to sense) what we shall be ; our life is hid (from our own and others' senses) with Christ in God. We see not Christ when we rejoice in him with joy unspeakable, and full of glory. (1 Pet i. 8.) Thus faith is the evidence of things not seen, or evident to sight. (Heb. xi. 1.) But ignorant persons have turned all to another sense; as if the objects of faith had no ascertaining intellectual evidence: when it is as impossible for man's mind to understand and believe anything to be true, without perceiving evidence of its truth; as it is for the eye to see without light. As Richard Hooker saith in his Ecclesiastical Polity, Let men say what they will, men can truly believe no further than they perceive evidence. It is a natural