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dition of men in this present state is fuch, that the natural order of things in this world is in event manifeítly perverted, and virtue and goodness are visibly prevented in great meature from obtaining their proper and due effects in establifbing men's happiness proportionable to their behaviour and practice; therefore it is absolutely imporfible, that the whole view and intention, the original and the final design, of God's creating such rational beings as men are, and placing them in this globe of earth, as the chief and principal, or indeed (may we not say) the only inhabitants, for whole fake alone this part at least of the creation is manifestly fitted up and accommodated; it is absolutely impossible (I lay) that the whole of God's. design in all this thould be nothing more than to keep up eternally, a succession of such short-lived generations of men as at present are; and those in such a corrupt, confused, and disorderly state of things, as we see the world is now in; without any due observation of the eternal rules of good and evil, without any clear and remarkable effect of the great and most necessary differences of things, and with out any final vindication of the honour and laws of God in the proportionable reward of the best, or punishment of the warit of men, And consequently it is certain and neceffary (even as certain as the moral attributes of God before demonstrated), that, instead of continuing an eternal succession of new generations in the present form and state of things, there must at some time or other be such a revolution and renovation of things, such a future state of existence of the fame persons, as that, by an exact distribution of rewards and punishments therein, all the present disorders and inequalities may be set right; and that the whole scheme of providence, which to us who judge of it by only one finall portion of it seems now so inexplicable and much confused, may appear at its consummation to be a design worthy of infinite wisdom, justice, and goodness.
: V. That, though the indispensable necessity of all the great and moral obligations of natural religion, and also the certainty of a future ftate of rewards and punishments, be thus in general deducible, even demonstrably, by a chain of clear and undeniable reasoning; yet (in the prefent state of the world, by what ineans foever it came originally to be fo corrupted, of which more hereafter) such is the carelesiness, inconfiderateness, and want of attention of the greater part of mankind; so many the prejudices and false notions imbibed by evil education : so strong and violent the unreasonable lufts, appetites, and defires of lense; and so great the blindness, introduced by fuperftitious opinions, vicious cuftoms, and debauched practices through the world; that very few are able, in reality and effect, to discover these things clearly and plainly for themselves; but men have great need of particular teaching, and much instruction, to convince them of the truth, and certainty, and importance of these things; to give them a due sense, and clear and just apprehensions .concerning them; and to bring them effectually to the practice of the plaineit and most neceflary duties.
VI. That, though in almost every age there have indeed been in the heathen world fome wise and brave and good men, who have made it their business to study and practise these things themselves, and to teach and exhort others to do the like; who seem therefore to have been raised up by providence, as instruments to reprove in some measure and put some kind of check to the extreme luperstition and wickedness of the nations wherein they lived; yet none of these have ever been able to reform the world, with any considerably great and universal fuccess; because they have been but very few, that have in earnest set themselves about this excellent work; and they that have indeed fincerely done it have themselves been entirely ignorant of some doctrines, and very doubtful and uncertain of others, absolutely necessary for the bringing about that great end; and those things which they have been certain of and in good measure understood, they have not been able to prove and explain clearly enough; and those that they have been able both to prove and explain by suficiently clear reasoning, they have not yet had authority enough to inforce and inculcate upon men's minds with so strong an impression, as to influence and govern the general practice of the world.
VII. That therefore there was plainly wanting a divine revelation, to recover mankind out of their universally degenerate estate, into a state suitable to the original excellency of their nature: which divine revelation both the necessities of men and their natural notions of God gave them reasonable ground to expect and hope for; as appears from the acknowledgments which the best and wiseft of the heathen philosophers themselyes have made, of their sense of the neceflity and want of such a revelation; and from their expreffons of the hopes they had entertained, that God would some time or other vouchlafe it unto them.
VIII. That there is no other religion now in the world, but the Christian, that has any just pretençe or tolerable appearance of reason to be esteemed such a divine revelation: and therefore, if Chriftianity be not true, there is no revelation of the will of God at all made to mankind.
IX. That the Christian religión, considered in its primitive fimplicity, and as taught in the holy fcriptures, has all the marks and proofs of its being actually and truly a divine revelation, that any divine revelation, fuppofing it was true, could reasonably be imagined or defired to have.
X. That the practical duties which the Christian religion enjoins are all such as are molt agreeable to our natural notions of God, and most perfective of the nature, and conducive to the happiness and well-being of men. That is; Chriftianity even in this single respect, as containing alone and in one consistent system all the wife and good precepts (and chose improved, augmented, and exalted to the highest degree of perfection), that ever were taught fingly and scatteredly, and many times but very corruptly, by the several schools of the philosophers; and this without any mixture of the fond, VOL. IV.
absurd, and superstitious practices of any of those philosophers ; ought to be embraced and practised by all rational and considering Deists, who will act conlistently, and steadily pursue the consequences of their own principles; as at least the best scheme and sect of philosophy, that ever was fet up in the world; and highly probable, even though it had no external evidence to be of divine original. !
XI. That the motives, by which the Christian religion inforcés the practice of these duties, are fuch as are most suitable to the excellent wisdom of God, and most aniwerable to the natural expectations of men.
XII. That the peculiar manner and circuir stances with which it enjoins these duties, and urges these motives, are exactly confonant to the dictates of found reason, or the unprejudiced light of nature, · and most wisely perfcctive of it.
XIII. That all the [credenda, or] doctrines, which the true, fimple, and uncorrupted Chriftian religion teaches (that is, not only those plain doctrines, which it requires to be believed as fundamental and of neceflity to eternal falvation, but even all the doctrines which it teaches as matters of truth), are, though indeed many of them not discoverable by bare reason unafifted with revelation, yet, when discovered by revelation, apparently inost agreeable to found unprejudiced reason; have every one of them a natural tendency, and a direct and powerful influence, to reform men's lives and correct their manners; and do together make up an infinitely more consistent and rational scheme of belief, than any that the wiseit of the antient philosophers, ever did, or the cunningest of modern unbelievers can inyent or contrive.
XIV. That as this revelation, to the judgement of right and sober Teason, appears even of itself highly credible and probable; and abundantly recommends itself in its native fimplicity, merely by its own intrinsic goodness and excellency, to the practice of the most rational and considering men, who are desirous in all their actions to have fatisfaction and comfort and good hope within themselves, from the conscience of what they do?-fo it is moreover positively and directly proved, to be actually and immediately sent to us from God, by the many infallible signs and miracles, which the author of it worked publicly as the evidence of his divine commillion ; by the exact completion both of the prophecies that went before concerning hiin, and of those that he hišself delivered concerning things that were to happen after;, and by the teftimony of his followers: which, in all its circumflances, was the most credible, certain, and convincing evidence, that was ever given to any matter of fact in the world. den . i mission des
XV. And, lastly; that they who will not, by such arguments and proofs as these, be convinced of the truth and certainty of the Christian religion, and be persuaded to make it the-rule and guide Pof all their actions, would not be convinced (lo far as to influence their hearts, and reform their lives! by any other evidence what
m ini iti . foever ;
foever ; no, not though one should rise on purpose from the dead, to endeavour to convince them.
OF THE SEVERAL SORTS OF Deists. I might here, before I enter upon the particular proof of these several propofitions, justly be allowed to premise, that having now to deal with another sort of men than those against whom my former discourse was directed; and being consequently in some parts of this treatise to make use of some other kinds of arguments than those which the nature of that discourse permitted and required; the fame demorîtrative force of reasoning, and even mathematical certainty, which in the main argument was there easy to be obtained, ought not here to be expected; but that such moral evidence, or mixt proofs from circumstances and testin.ony, as most matters of fact are only capable of, and wife and honest men are always fatisfied with, ought to be accounted suficient in the present case. Be'cause all the principles indeed upon which Atheists attempt to build their schemes, are luch as may by plain force of reason, and undeniably demonstrative argumentations, be reduced to express and direct contradictions. But the Deists pretend to own all the principles of reason, and would be thought to deny nothing but what depends entirely on testimony and evidence of matter of fact, which they think they can easily evade.
But, if we examine things to the bottom, we shall find that the matter does not in reality lie here. For I believe there are in the world, at least in any part of the world where the Christian religion is in any tolerable purity professed, very few, if any, such Deilts as will truly stand to all the principles of unprejudiced reason, and fincerely both in profession and practice own all the obligations of natural religion, and yet oppose Christianity merely upon account of their not being satisfied with the strength of the evidence of matter of fact. A constant and sincere observance of all the laws of reason, and obligations of natural religion, will unavoidably lead a man to Christianity ; if he has due opportunities of examining things, and will steadily pursue the consequences of his own principles. And all others, who pretend to be Deists without coming up to this, can have no fixt and settled principles at all, upon which they can either argue or act consistently; but must of necessity fink into downright Atheism (and consequently fall under the force of the former arguments); as may appear by considering the several sorts of them.
1. OF THE FIRST SORTS OF DEISTS; AND OF PROVIDENCE.
Some men would be thought to be Deists, because they pretend to believe the existence of an eternal, infinite, independent, intelligent being; and, to avoid the name of Epicurean Atheists, teach also that this supreme being made the world: though at the same time they agree with the Epicureans in this, that they fancy * God
does " Omnis enim per fe Dis ûm natura neceffe eft “ Immortali evo summa cum pace fruatur, “ Seinusa a noftris rebus, sejunctaque longe,
EVIDENCE OF NATURAL does not at all concern himself in the government of the world, nor has any regard to, or care of, what is done therrin. But, if we examine things duly, this opinion must unavoidably terminate in absolute Atheism. For although to imagine that God at the creation of the world, or at the formation of any particular part of it, could (if he had pleased) by his infnite wisdom, forefight, and unerring design, have originally to ordered, disposed, and adapie all the springs and series of future necessary and unintelligent caufes, that, without the immediate interposition of his almighty power upon every particular occasion, they should regularly by virtue of that original dispclition have produced effcets worthy to proceed from the direction and government of infinite wisdom ; though this, I . say, may possibly by very nice and abstract reasoning be reconcileable with a firm belief both of the being and attributes of God, and also with a consistent notion even of Providence itself: yet to fancy that God originally created a certain quantity of matter and mction, and left them to frame a world at adventures, without any determinate and particular view, design or direction; this can no way be defended consistently, but mult of necessity recur to downright Atheism; as I shall show presently, after I have made only this one observation, that as that opinion is impious in itself, fo the late improvements in mathematics and natural philosophy have discovered, that, as things now are, that scheme is plainly false and impoflible in fact. For, not to say, that, seeing matter is utterly incapable of obeying any laws, the very original laws of motion themselves cannot continue to take place, but by something superior to matter, continually exerting on it a certain force or power according to such certain and determinate laws; it is now evident beyond question, that the bodies of all plants and animais, much the most considerable parts of the world, could not possibly have been formed by mere matter according to any general laws of motion. And not only lo ; but that most universal principle of gravitation itself, the spring of alnoit all the great and regular inanimate motions in the world, answering (as I hinted in my former discourse) not at all to the surfaces of bodies (by which alone they can act one upon another), but entirely to their solid content, cannot possibly be the result of any motion originally impressed on matter, but must of necessity be caused (either immediately or mediately) by something which penetrates the very folid substance of all bodies, and continually puts forth in them a force or power entirely different from that by which i matter acts on matter. Which is, by the way, an evident demonstration, not only of the world's being made originally by a supreme
“ Nam privata dolore omni, privata periclis,
“ Nec bene promeritis capitur, nec tangitur ira.” Lucret. lib. I. Το μακά ριον και άφθαρτον, έτε αι το πράγματα έχει, ώτε άλλο παρέχει: αςε έτε οργαΐς, Šte zágioi ouifm67cbo Laert. in vita Epicuri.
Nor is the doctrine of those modern philosophers much different, who afcribe every thing to matter and motion, exclusive of final causes, and speak of God as an “intelligentia supramundana;" which is the very cant of Epicurus and Lucretius.