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SERM. mortality of the foul; and future rewards after this
CCXXIV:1:6.

life.

Ithall for the

I shall offer these two considerations.
First, that it is most reasonable so to do.
Secondly, that it is infinitely most prudent.

I. As to the being of God.' Do but consider these
two things, which are undeniable; that there is a
world, however it came ; and that mankind do ge-
nerally consent in a confident persuasion that there is
a God, whatever be the cause of it. Now these two'
things being certain, and not liable to any question,
let us énquire whether a reasonable account can be
given of these without a God.

1. Supposing there be no God, how came this vast and orderly frame of the world! There are 123 but two ways that can be imagined. Either it was from eternity always of itself; or it became some time to be. That it should be always of itself ; though it may be imagined of the heavens and the earth, which as to the main are permanent, and continue the fame; yet in things that succeed one after another, it is altogether unimaginable. As in the 19

men, there can be no doubt, whether every one of them was from another, or some of themselves. Some of them must be of themselves : for whatever number of causes 'be imagined in or- 1 a derly succession, fome of them must have no cause, but be' of themselves. Now that which is of itself, and the cause of all others, is the first. So that there must be a first man; and the age of man being finite, this first man must have a beginning. So, that an infinite fùccession of men should have been, is impossible ; and consequently, that men were always. But I need not insist much upon this, because few or none of our modern atheists pitch upon this way. Besides, that Aristotle, who is reputed the great afferter of the

eternity

eternity of the world, doth acknowledge an infinite SER M. progress and succession of causes to be one of the

CCCXXIV. greatest absurdities.

Suppose then the world began some time to be ; it' muft either be made by counsel and design, that is, produced by some being that. knew what it did, that did contrive and frame it as it is ; which it is easy to conceive a being that is infinitely good, and wise, and powerful, might do; but this is to own a God: or else the matter of it being supposed to have been always, and in continual motion and tumult, it at last happened to fall into this order, and the parts of matter, after various agitations, were at length entangled and knit together in this order, in which we see the world to be. But can any man think this reasonable to imagine, that in the infinite variety which is in the world, all things should happen by chance, as well and as orderly as the greatest wisdom could have contrived them? Whoever can believe this, must do it with his will, and not with his understanding.

But seeing it must be granted, that something is
of itself, how easy is it to grant such a being to be of
itfelf, as hath other perfections proportionable to ne- .
cessary existence; that is infinitely good, and wise,
and powerful ? and there will be no difficulty in con-
ceiving how such a being as this could make the
world.

2. This likewife is undeniable, that mankind do
generally consent in a confident perfuasion that there
is a God, whatever was the cause of this. Now the
reason of soʻuniversal a consent in all places and ages
of the world, 'must be one, and constant : but no one
and constant reason of this can be given, unless it be
from the frame and nature of man's mind and under-

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standing,

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SER M. standing, which hath the notion of a Deity stampt CCXXIV.

jupon it; or, which is all one, hath such an under. standing, as will in it's own free use and exercise find out'a God. And what more reasonable than to think, that if we be God's workmanship, he should set this mark of himself upon us, that we might know to whom we belong and I dare say, that this account must be much more reasonable and satisfactory to any indifferent man, than to resolve this universal consent into tradition, or state-policy, both which are liable to inexplicable difficulties, as I have elsewhere shewn at large *.

II. As to the immortality of the soul. Supposing a God, who is an infinite Spirit; it is easy to imagine the possibility of a finite fpirit ; and supposing the goodness of God, no man can doubt, but that when he made all things, he would make some best; and the same goodness which moved him to make things, would be a reason to continue those things for the longest duration they are capable of.

III. As to future rewards. Supposing the holiness and justice of God, that “ he loves righteousness, “ and hates iniquity ;” and that he is the magistrate and governor of the world, and concerned to countenance goodness, and discourage sin; and considering the promiscuous dispensation of his providence in this world, and “how all things happen alike to “ all," it is most reasonable to conclude, that after this life, men shall be punished and rewarded.

Secondly, it is infinitely most prudent. In matters of great concernment a prudent man will incline to the safest side of the question. We have considered which side of these questions is most reasonable :

• See vol. I. ferm. I. where the arguments here briefly named, are handled at large. "

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let us now think which is safest. For it is certainly SER M. most prudent to incline to the safest side of the quef

of CCXXIV. tion. Supposing the reasons for, and against the principles of religion were equal, yet the danger and hazard is so unequal, as would sway a prudent man to the affirmative. Şuppose a'man believe there is. no God, nor life after this, and suppose he be in the right, but not certain that he is (for that, I am sure, in this case is impossible) all the advantage he hath by this opinion, relates only to this world and this present time: for he cannot be the better for it when he is not. Now what advantage will it be to him in this life? he shall have the more liberty to do what he pleaseth ; that is, it furnisheth him with a stronger temptation to be intemperate, and lustful, and unjust; that is, to do those things which prejudiçe his body and health, which cloud his reason, and darken his understanding, which will make him enemies in the world, and will bring him into danger. So that it is no advantage to any man to be vicious : and yet this is the greatest use that is made of atheistical principles; to comfort men in their vicious courses. But if thou hast a mind to be virtuous, and temperate, and just, the belief of the principles of religion will be no obstacle, but a furtherance to thee in this course. All the advantage a man can hope for by disbelieving the principles of religion, is to escape trouble and persecuction in this world, which may happen to him on account of religion. But supposing there be a God, and a life af. ter this, then what a vast difference is there of the consequences of these opinions ! as much as between finite and infinite, time and eternity

Secondly, to persuade men to believe the scriptures, I only offer this to men's consideration. If there be

SER M. standing, which hath the notion of a Deity tampt. CCXXIV

upon it; or, which is all one, hąth such an under. standing, as will in it's own free use and exercise find out a God. And what more reasonable than to think, that if we be God's workmanship, he should set this mark of himself upon us, that we might know to whom we belong ? and I dare say, that this account must be much more reasonable and satisfactory to any indifferent man, than to resolve this universal consent into tradition, or state-policy, both which are liable to inexplicable difficulties, as I have elsewhere shewn at large *

II. As to the immortality of the soul. Supposing a God, who is an infinite Spirit; ịt is easy to imagine the poflibility of a finite fpirit ; and supposing the goodness of God, no man can doubt, but that when he made all things, he would make some best; and the same goodness which moved him to make things, would be a reason to continue those things for the longest duration they are capable of.

III. As to future rewards. Supposing the holiness and justice of God, that “ he loves righteousness, “ and hates iniquity ;” and that he is the magistrate and governor of the world, and concerned to countenance goodness, and discourage sin ; and considering the promiscuous dispensation of his providence in this world, and “how all things happen alike to “ all," it is most reasonable to conclude, that after this life, men shall be punished and rewarded.

Secondly, it is infinitely most prudent. In matters of great concernment a prudent man will incline to the safeft side of the question. We have considered which fide of these questions is most reasonable :

* See vol. I. serm. I. where the arguments here briefly named, are handled at large.."

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