The Preface.
I SHOULD not have presumed to publish these papers in vindication of natural and revealed religion, after so many excellent discourses already written upon that subject, had I not thought myself obliged to it, in order to pursue more fully the design of the honourable founder of this lecture, and to answer the expectation of the most reverend and the honourable trustees appointed by him. The honourable Robert Boyle, Esq. was a person no less zealously solicitous for the propagation of true religion, and the practice of piety and virtue, than diligent and successful in improving experimental philosophy, and enlarging our knowledge of nature; and it was his settled opinion, that the advancement and increase of natural knowledge would always be of service to the cause and interest of true religion, in opposition to atheists and unbelievers of all sorts. Accordingly he, in his life-time, made excellent use of his own observations to this purpose in all his writings, and made provision after his death for carrying on the same design perpetually. In pursuance of which end I endeavoured, in my former discourse, to strengthen and confirm the arguments which prove to us the being and attributes of God, partly by metaphysical reasoning, and partly from the discoveries (principally those that have been lately made,) in natural philosophy. And in the present treatise I have attempted, in a plainer and easier method, to establish the unalterable obligations of natural religion, and the truth and certainty of the Christian revelation. If what I have said, may, in any measure, promote the interest of true religion in this sceptical and profane age, and answer the design for which this lecture was founded, I have my end.

It may perhaps be expected, that I should take some notice of certain remarks which have been published upon my former sermons. Had the author of those remarks entered into the merits of the cause, or offered any considerable reasons in opposition to what I had laid down, I should have thought myself obliged to give him a particular answer; but since his book is made up chiefly of railing and gross misconstructions, and all that he pretends to say, by way of argument, depends entirely upon supposition of the truth of the Cartesian hypothesis, which the best mathematicians in the world have demonstrated to be false, I presume it may be sufficient to show here the insincerity of that author, and the weakness of his reasoning, by a few brief observations.

The only argument he alleges against me, in his whole book, is this: that if we know not distinctly what the essence of God, [87] and what the essence of matter is, wé cannot possibly demonstrate them at all to be two different essences.

To which I answer: It is plain we know not the essences of things by intuition, but can only reason about them from what we know of their different properties or attributes. Now, from the demonstrable attributes of God, and from the known properties of matter, we have as unanswerable reasons to convince and satisfy us that their essences are entirely different, though we know not distinctly what those essences are, as our faculties can afford us, in judging of any the certainest things whatsoever. For instance: the demonstrable attributes of God are, that he is self-existent, independent, eternal, infinite, unchangeable, incorruptible, intelligent, free, all-powerful, wise, just, and good: The known properties of matter are, that it is not necessary or self-existent, but dependent, finite; (nay, that it fills but a few very small and inconsiderable portions of space,) that it is divisible, passive, unintelligent, and consequently incapable of any active powers. Now nothing can be more certain and evident, than that the substances to which these incompatible attributes or properties belong, or the essences from which they flow, are entirely different one from the other, though we do not distinctly know what the inmost substances or essences themselves are. If any man will think a mere hypothesis (the Cartesian or any other,) concerning the inmost nature of substances to be a more satisfactory discovery of the different essences of things than we can attain by reasoning thus from their demonstrable properties, and will choose rather to draw fond consequences from such hypotheses and fictions founded upon no proof at all, than to make use of such philosophy as is grounded only upon clear reason or good experiments, -- I know no help for it, but he must be permitted to enjoy his opinion quietly.

The rest of the book is all either an indecent and unreasonable reviling of the learned Mr Locke, from whom I neither cited any one passage, nor (that I know of) borrowed any argument from him; and therefore is altogether impertinent: or else it consists of gross misrepresentations of my sense, and very unfair constructions and false citations of my words, of which I shall presently give some instances.

The first 8, and the 35th and 36th pages of the remarks, are spent in attempting to prove, that, if we do not first know what the essence of God, and what the essence of matter is, (that is, if the Cartesian hypothesis or fiction concerning the essences of spiritual and material substance be not granted to be true,) -- there is no way left by which it can be proved at all that the essence of God and matter is not one and the same: To which I have already given an answer, viz. that, from the demonstrable attributes of God, and from the known properties of matter (being incompatible with each other,) we have as absolute certainty of their essences or substances being different, though we do not distinctly know what those essences are, as our faculties enable us to attain in any metaphysical question; for incompatible properties can no more possibly be in any unknown than in any known subject.

Page 12. -- The author of the Remarks asserts, that Des Cartes and his followers have mathematically proved that the essence of matter consists in length, breadth, and depth: And upon this confident assertion, his whole book depends in every part. To this, therefore, I answer, that that hypothesis is really so far from being mathematically proved to be true, that, on the contrary, he cannot but know (if he knows any thing of these matters,) that the greatest mathematicians of the present age, men confessedly greater in that science than any that ever lived before them, have clearly proved (as I before said) that it is absolutely false. [88] And not to take the least notice of this throughout his whole book argues either great insincerity or great ignorance.

I had affirmed, that to imagine an eternal and infinite nothing was being reduced to the necessity of imagining a contradiction or impossibility: For this he argues against me (Remark. pag.14,) as if I had asserted, that it was possible to imagine an eternal and infinite nothing, whereas I asserted that it was impossible, and an express contradiction so to do: This is great insincerity.

I had charged the Cartesians with being unavoidably reduced to the absurdity of making matter a necessarily-existing being. In citing this passage, (Remark, pages 14 and 15,) he ridiculously represents me as saying that this absurdity consisted in making extension necessary; though he knew that in that very passage I supposed matter and extension to be entirely different things: This likewise is great insincerity.

I have said, that the idea of immensity was an idea that no way belonged to matter. Instead of this, he cites me asserting, senselessly, (Remark, page 15,) that extension no way belongs to matter; as if that which is not immense or infinite, is, therefore, not extended at all: This is the greatest disingenuity in the world.

Remark, page 15. -- He says, I am sure this author cannot produce one, no not one Cartesian, that ever made matter a necessarily-existing being, -- that ever contradicted himself in words upon this subject, -- that ever was mightily, or not mightily, or at all perplexed with what Mr Clarke calls his argument; -- nay, that ever heard of that thing he calls his argument. Why are they thus misrepresented and imposed upon? To this I answer: it had been sufficient to make good my charge, to have shown, that, from the Cartesian hypothesis, it followed, by unavoidable consequence, that matter must be a necessarily-existing being, though the Cartesians themselves had not seen that consequence. Yet I cited, moreover, a passage out of Regis, wherein it is plain he perceived and owned that consequence. But, because the Remarker seems not satisfied with this, and pretends to triumph here with great pleasure and assurance, I will for once comply with his challenge, and produce him another, and that an unexceptionable Cartesian, even Des Cartes himself, who was greatly perplexed with the argument I mentioned, and was unavoidably reduced to make matter a necessarily-existing being, and at the same time did contradict himself in words upon this subject. It was objected to Des Cartes by some very learned men, that [89] if extension and matter were the same thing, it seemed to them to follow, that God could neither possibly make the world finite, nor annihilate any part of matter, without creating, at the same time, just as much more to supply its place. To this he answers; [90] that, according to his hypothesis, it does indeed imply a contradiction to suppose the world to be finite, or to suppose God annihilating any part of matter; but yet he will not say God cannot do it, or that God cannot cause that two and three shall not make five, or any other contradiction whatsoever: Is not this making matter a necessarily-existing being, to own that it is a contradiction to suppose God annihilating it, or setting bounds to it? Is not this contradicting himself, for a man to affirm (as Cartes does in all his writings,) that the world was created by God, and depends upon him, and yet at the same time to declare that it implies as plain a contradiction to suppose any part of matter annihilable by the power of God, as to suppose that two and three should not make five? Is not this really a ridiculing of the power of God? And was not Des Cartes, therefore, greatly perplexed with the argument I mentioned? And is not an hypothesis, from which such consequences unavoidably and confessedly follow, a fine land-mark of distinction between spiritual and material substances? and whatever opposes this hypothesis, [91] a depriving us of the means of proving the existence of the one only true God?

The Remarker humbly desires his reader (page 16,) to be persuaded that he is of no particular sect in matters of philosophy, but only of the party of truth wherever he meets with it. Yet the same man had declared before, (page 12,) that he believed Des Cartes had mathematically proved his hypothesis; and takes not the least notice of its having since been fully confuted by mathematicians confessedly far more eminent in that science than Des Cartes was. This is a very singular mark of impartiality, and of being addicted to no party in matters of philosophy.

Speaking of the Cartesian argument drawn from the idea of God, I had used these words: -- Our first certainty of the existence of God arises not from this, that, in the idea we frame of him in our minds, or rather in the definition that we make of the word [God,] as signifying a being of all possible perfections, we include self-existence: but, &c. -- meaning, that, according to that argument, self-existence was rather made only a part of the definition of the word than proved to be a real attribute of the being itself. Instead of this the Remarker, (pages 17 and 19,) by a childish misunderstanding of the syntax of the sentence, and referring the particle [or] to a wrong member of the period, cites my words in a quite different manner: as if I had said, in the idea we frame of God in our own minds, or rather in the idea we frame of him in the definition that we make of the word, &c. and he is very facetious (pages 17 and 19,) in ridiculing this framing of an idea in a definition, which he calls, as it truly is, a real piece of nonsense. But when, upon the review, he finds himself the true and only author of it, for want of understanding grammar, I suppose it will make him more modest and careful.

He accuses me (Remark, pages 18, 20, &c.) of not understanding the Cartesian argument drawn from the idea of God. I confess myself very ready to submit to this charge; and I can show him much more learned writers than either of us, who have likewise [92] not understood that argument. If he does understand it, he will do the world a very acceptable piece of service to make it out.

What he says in his 21st, 22d, 23d, and 24th pages, is such a heap of misconstructions, and so entirely void of sense, that I confess I cannot at all tell what he means.

From my using the word mere matter, he concludes (page 29,) that I imagine there is another sort of matter which is not a mere bare, pure, incogitative matter; and that these terms necessarily import this sense. Whereas, in every one of the places he cites, it is as express and evident as words can make it, that by mere matter I understand the matter of which the world consists, not as opposed to another sort of matter, but either as opposed to motion and to the form of the world, or as considered by itself, and without the government and direction of a supreme intelligent mind. This, therefore, is the highest degree of insincerity.

He charges me, (pages 4 and 29, and 30,) with making a translation quite different from Spinoza's sense and words. How I could mistranslate what I did not translate at all, I understand not: but whether I have misrepresented Spinoza's sense, or no, (as I think I have not,) this I can only leave to the learned world to judge.

I reduced Spinoza's opinion to this, that the material world, and every part of it, with the order and manner of being of each part, is the only self-existing or necessarily-existing being; and this I think is as clearly contained in the words I cited from him [93] as any thing can be. Here the Remarker asserts (page 30,) that Spinoza never taught this doctrine; nay, that he taught the quite contrary. To prove which, he cites a passage, where Spinoza affirms, that [94] all who have in any degree considered the divine nature, deny that God is corporeal. Now, this also is extremely insincere; for, had this author cited here the whole sentence of Spinoza, as he had cited it before in his 26th page, it would have appeared evidently, that Spinoza, by denying God to be corporeal, meant only fallaciously to deny his being any particular piece of matter, any [95] finite body, and of a certain figure. For, that he believed infinite corporeal substance, that is, the whole material universe, to be God, (besides the places I had cited from him,) he in express words acknowledges, [96] in a passage which this very author cites in the 4th page of his remarks; and he maintains it at large through the whole of that very scholium [97] from whence the remarker has with the greatest insincerity taken the present objection. But, besides; suppose Spinoza had not explained himself in this place, and had in this single passage contradicted what he had plainly taught throughout the rest of his book, would this have been any just reason to say that Spinoza never taught the doctrine I imputed to him? nay, that he taught the quite contrary?

He charges me (page 32,) with arguing only against the accessories of atheism, and leaving the essential hypothesis in its full force; nay, with confirming and establishing (page 11,) Spinoza's atheism. It seems, in the opinion of this author, that proving the material world to be, not a necessary but a dependent being, made, preserved, and governed, by a self-existent, independent, eternal, infinite mind, of perfect knowledge, wisdom, power, justice, goodness and truth -- is arguing only against the accessories of atheism, and that the essential hypothesis of atheism is left untouched, nay, confirmed and established, by all who will not presume to define the essence of that supreme mind according to the unintelligible language of the schools and the groundless imagination of Des Cartes concerning the substance or essence of matter and spirit. I confess it appears to me, on the contrary, that the essence of atheism lies in making God either an unintelligent being, [such as is the material world,] or at least a necessary agent, [such as Spinoza makes his one substance to be,] void of all freedom, wisdom, power, and goodness; and that other metaphysical disputes are only about the accessories; and that there is much more ground, on the other side, to suspect that very hypothesis, of which this writer is so fond, to be favourable to the atheist's main purpose. For if, from Des Cartes's notion of the essence of matter, it follows (as he himself, in the places now cited, confesses in express words,) that it implies a contradiction to suppose the material world finite, or to suppose any part of matter can be annihilated by the power of God, I appeal to this author, whether this does not naturally tend to make men think matter a necessary and self-existent being?

He charges me (page 33,) with falsely accusing Spinoza of making God a mere necessary agent; and cites a passage or two out of Spinoza, wherein that author seems to assert the contrary. The words which I cited from Spinoza do as clearly express what I charged him with, as it is possible for any thing to be expressed; for he asserts plainly, [98] that from the power of God all things proceed necessarily; that all things are determined by the necessity of the divine nature; that whatever is in the power of God must necessarily exist; that things could not have been produced by God in any other manner or order than they now are; and that God does not act by a liberty of will. All this the Remarker very insincerely passes over, without the least notice. And the words which he cites out of Spinoza do not at all prove the contrary to what I asserted. For when Spinoza says, [99] that God alone is a free cause, and that God acts by the laws of his own nature, without being forced by any; it is evident he does not there mean a freedom of will, but only fallaciously signifies, that the necessity by which all things exist in the manner they do, is an inward necessity in the nature of the things themselves, in opposition to any force put upon them from without; which external force, it is plain indeed that [the to pan] the whole universe (the God of Spinoza) cannot be subject to; because it is supposed to contain all things within itself. But, besides, supposing (as I said before) that Spinoza had directly contradicted himself in this one passage, how would that have proved my charge against him to have been false?

He says (page 34,) that I am guilty myself of what I groundlessly imputed to Spinoza, viz. of making God a mere necessary agent; namely, by affirming that there is a necessary difference between good and evil, and that there is such a thing as fitness and unfitness, eternally, necessarily, and unchangeably in the nature and reason of things, antecedently to will and to all positive or arbitrary appointment whatsoever. This, he says, is a groundless and positive assertion, and plainly imports the eternal necessary co-existence of all things as much as Spinoza's hypothesis does. Is not this an admirable consequence? because I affirm the proportions of things, and the differences of good and evil, to be eternal and necessary, that therefore I affirm the existence of the things themselves to be also eternal and necessary? because I affirm the proportion, suppose between a sphere and a cylinder, to be eternal and necessary, that therefore I affirm the existence of material spheres and cylinders to be likewise eternal and necessary? because I affirm the difference between virtue and vice to be eternal and necessary, that therefore I affirm men, who practise virtue or vice, to have existed eternally? This accusation shows both extreme ignorance, and great malice, in the author of the remarks.

I had used these words, (Demonstrat, page 8:) -- "How an eternal duration can now be actually past, is a thing utterly as impossible for our narrow understandings to comprehend, as any thing that is not an express contradiction can be imagined to be; and yet, to deny the truth of the proposition, that an eternal duration is now actually past, is to assert something still far more unintelligible, even a real and express contradiction." Instead of this, the Remarker, (page 39,) citing my words, with extreme disingenuity leaves out one half of the sentence and makes me to say, absolutely, that something is still far more unintelligible than that which is utterly impossible to be understood. Such gross misrepresentations as these, in leaving out one part of a sentence, to make the rest nonsense, can very hardly proceed but from want of honesty.

Lastly, (page 41,) he says, that in my Sermons there is not one argument offered to prove, against Spinoza, that God is a spirit. I persuaded myself, that the proving God to be a being absolutely distinct from the material world, self-existent, intelligent, free, all-powerful, wise, and good, had been proving him to be a spirit. But it seems no proof is of any force with this author, if it be not agreeable to the Cartesian philosophy, in which alone he seems to have any knowledge. To this, therefore, I am not obliged to trouble either myself or the reader with giving any further answer.


[87] Note--That in this whole question, the word essence is not to be taken in the proper metaphysical sense of the word, as signifying that by which a thing is what it is; for in that sense the attributes of God do constitute his essence; and solidity, or impenetrability, is the essence of matter. But essence is all along to be understood as signifying here the same with substance.

[88] See Sir Isaac Newton's Principia, page 384 and 402. Edit. tertia.

[89] Quæro an a Deo fieri potuisset ut mundus esset finitus?--Epist. ad Cartesium68, partis primæ. Nondum illud possum concoquere, eam esse inter res corporeas connexionem, ut nec mundum Deus creare potuerit nisi infinitum, nec ullum corpus in nihilum redigere, quin eo ipso teneatur aliud paris quantitatis statim creare.--Epist. 5. partis secundæ.

[90] Puto implicare contradictionem ut mundus sit finitus.--Cartes. Epist. 69, partis primæ. Mihi autem non videtur de ulla unquam re esse dicendum, ipsam a Deo fieri non posse. Cum enim omnis ratio veri et boni ab ejus omnipotentia dependeat; ne quidem dicere ausim, Deum facere non posse ut mons sit sine valle, vel ut unum et duo non sint tria; sed tantum dico, talia implicare contradictionem in meo conceptu. Quod idem etiam de spatio, quod sit plane vacuum, &c.--Epist. 6, partis secundæ.

[91] Remark, page 25.

[92] See Cudworth's System, page 721, &c.

[93] Præter Deum nulla dari neque concipi potest substantia.--Spinoza ethic. par. prop. 14. Una substantia non potest produci ab alia substantia.--Prop. 6. Res nullo alio modo neque alio ordine a Deo produci potuerunt quam productæ sunt.--Prop. 33. Ad naturam substantiæ pertinet existere.--Prop. 7.

[94] Omnes qui naturam divinam aliquo modo contemplati sunt, Deum esse corporeum negant--Ethic. par. I. prop. 15. Schol.

[95] Per corpus intelligimus quamcunque quantitatem longam, latam, et profundam, certa aliqua figura terminatum; quo nihil absurdius de Deo, ente scilicet absolute infinito, dici potest.--Ibid.

[96] Substantiam corpoream quæ non nisi infinita concipi potest, nulla ratione natura divina indignam esse dici potest.

[97] Schol. ad prop. 15. par 1.

[98] A summa Dei potentia omnia necessario effluxisse. Omnia ex necessitate divinæ naturæ determinata sunt, &c. Quicquid concipimus in Dei potestate esse, id necessario est. Res nullo alio modo, neque alio ordine, a Deo produci potuerunt quam productæ sunt. Deum non operari ex libertate voluntatis.

[99] Sequitur, soum Deum esse causam liberam. Deus ex solis suæ naturæ legibus, et a nemine coactus, agit.

Isa. v. 20. Wo unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

Rom. i. 22. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.

1 1 Corinthians 2:10. But God hath revealed them unto us by his spirit.

HAVING, The introduction. in a former discourse, endeavoured to lay firmly the first foundations of religion, in the certainty of the existence and of the attributes of God, by proving, severally and distinctly:--

That something must needs have existed from eternity, and how great soever the difficulties are, which perplex the conceptions and apprehensions we attempt to frame of an eternal duration, yet they neither ought nor can raise in any man's mind any doubt or scruple concerning the truth of the assertion itself that something has really been eternal:

That there must have existed from eternity some one unchangeable and independent being, because, to suppose an eternal succession of merely dependent beings, proceeding one from another in an endless progression, without any original independent cause at all, is supposing things that have in their own nature no necessity of existing, to be from eternity caused or produced by nothing; which is the very same absurdity and express contradiction as to suppose them produced by nothing at any determinate time:

That that unchangeable and independent being, which has existed from eternity, without any external cause of its existence, must be self-existent, that is, necessarily-existing:

That it must of necessity be infinite or everywhere present; a being most simple, uniform, invariable, indivisible, incorruptible, and infinitely removed from all such imperfections as are the known qualities and inseparable properties of the material world:

That it must of necessity be but one; because, to suppose two, or more, different self-existent independent principles may be reduced to a direct contradiction:

That it must necessarily be an intelligent being:

That it must be a free and voluntary, not a necessary agent:

That this being must of necessity have infinite power, and that in this attribute is included, particularly, a possibility of creating or producing things, and also a possibility of communicating to creatures the power of beginning motion, and a possibility of induing them with liberty or freedom of will; which freedom of will is not inconsistent with any of the divine attributes:

That he must of necessity be infinitely wise:

And lastly, that he must necessarily be a being of infinite goodness, justice, and truth, and all other moral perfections; such as become the supreme governor and judge of the world.

It remains now, in order to complete my design of proving and establishing the truth and excellency of the whole superstructure of our most holy religion, that I proceed, upon this foundation of the certainty of the being and attributes of God, to demonstrate in the next place the unalterable obligations of natural religion, and the certainty of divine revelation, in opposition to the vain arguings of certain vicious and profane men, who, merely upon account of their incredulity, would be thought to be strict adherers to reason, and sincere and diligent inquirers into truth; when, indeed, on the contrary, there is but too much cause to fear that they are not at all sincerely and really desirous to be satisfied in the true state of things, but only seek, under the pretence and cover of infidelity, to excuse their vices and debaucheries which they are so strongly inslaved to that they cannot prevail with themselves upon any account to forsake them: And yet a rational submitting to such truths, as just evidence and unanswerable reason would induce them to believe, must necessarily make them uneasy under those vices, and self condemned in the practice of them. It remains therefore, (I say) in order to finish the design I proposed to myself, of establishing the truth and excellency of our holy religion, in opposition to all such vain pretenders to reason as these, that I proceed at this time, by a continuation of the same method of arguing, by which I before demonstrated the being and attributes of God, to prove distinctly the following propositions:--

I. That the same necessary and eternal different relations that different things bear one to another, and the same consequent fitness or unfitness of the application of different things or different relations one to another, with regard to which the will of God always and necessarily does determine itself to choose to act only what is agreeable to justice, equity, goodness, and truth, in order to the welfare of the whole universe, ought likewise constantly to determine the wills of all subordinate rational beings, to govern all their actions by the same rules, for the good of the public in their respective stations: That is, these eternal and necessary differences of things make it fit and reasonable for creatures so to act: they cause it to be their duty, or lay an obligation upon them, so to do, even separate from the consideration of these rules being the positive will or command of God, and also antecedent to any respect or regard, expectation or apprehension, of any particular private and personal advantage or disadvantage, reward or punishment, either present or future, annexed, either by natural consequence, or by positive appointments, to the practising or neglecting those rules.

II. That though these eternal moral obligations are, indeed, of themselves incumbent on all rational beings, even antecedent to the consideration of their being the positive will and command of God, yet that which most strongly confirms, and in practice most effectually and indispensably enforces them upon us, is this, that both from the nature of things, and the perfections of God, and from several other collateral considerations, it appears, that as God is himself necessarily just and good in the exercise of his infinite power in the government of the whole world, so he cannot but likewise positively require that all his rational creatures should in their proportion be so too, in the exercise of each of their powers in their respective spheres: That is, as these eternal moral obligations are really in perpetual force merely from their own nature and the abstract reason of things, so also they are moreover the express and unalterable will, command, and law of God to his creatures, which he cannot but expect should, in obedience to his supreme authority, as well as in compliance with the natural reason of things, be regularly and constantly observed through the whole creation.

III. That, therefore, though these eternal moral obligations are also incumbent, indeed, on all rational creatures, antecedent to any respect of particular reward or punishment, yet they must certainly and necessarily be attended with rewards and punishments; because the same reasons which prove God himself to be necessarily just and good, and the rules of justice, equity, and goodness, to be his unalterable will, law, and command, to all created beings, prove also that he cannot but be pleased with and approve such creatures as imitate and obey him by observing those rules, and be displeased with such as act contrary thereto; and, consequently, that he cannot but some way or other make a suitable difference in his dealings with them, and manifest his supreme power and absolute authority, in finally supporting, maintaining, and vindicating effectually the honour of these his divine laws, as becomes the just and righteous governor and disposer of all things.

IV. That consequently, though, in order to establish this suitable difference between the fruits or effects of virtue and vice, so reasonable in itself, and so absolutely necessary for the vindication of the honour of God, the nature of things and the constitution and order of God's creation was originally such, that the observance of the eternal rules of justice, equity, and goodness does indeed of itself tend, by direct and natural consequence, to make all creatures happy, and the contrary practice to make them miserable; yet since, through some great and general corruption and depravation, (whencesoever that may have arisen, the particular original whereof could hardly have been known now without revelation;) since, I say, the condition of men in this present state is such, that the natural order of things in this world is an event manifestly perverted, and virtue and goodness are visibly prevented, in great measure, from obtaining their proper and due effects in establishing men's happiness proportionable to their behaviour and practice; therefore it is absolutely impossible, 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 whose sake alone this part at least of the creation is evidently fitted up and accommodated; it is absolutely impossible (I say) that the whole of God's design in all this should 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 without any final vindication of the honour and laws of God in the proportionable reward of the best, or punishment of the worst of men. And consequently it is certain and necessary, (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 same persons, as that, by an exact distribution of rewards or 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 small 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 state of rewards and punishments, be thus in general deducible even demonstrably, by a chain of clear and undeniable reasoning, (yet in the present state of the world, by what means soever it came originally to be so corrupted, of which more hereafter,) such is the carelessness, inconsiderateness, 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 lusts, appetites, and desires of sense; and so great the blindness, introduced by superstitious opinions, vicious customs, 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 plainest and most necessary duties.

VI. That, though in almost every age there have indeed been in the heathen world some wise, and brave, and good men, who have made it their business to study and practice 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 superstition 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 success; because they have been but very few that have in earnest set themselves about this excellent work; and they that have indeed sincerely 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 sufficiently clear reasoning, they have not yet had authority enough to enforce 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 wisest of the heathen philosophers themselves have made, of their sense of the necessity and want of such a revelation, and from their expressions of the hopes they had entertained that God would some time or other vouchsafe it unto them.

VIII. That there is no other religion now in the world, but the Christian, that has any just pretence or tolerable appearance of reason to be esteemed such a divine revelation; and therefore if Christianity be not true, there is no revelation of the will of God at all made to mankind.

IX. That the Christian religion, considered in its primitive simplicity, and as taught in the Holy Scriptures, has all the marks and proofs of its being actually and truly a divine revelation that any divine revelation, supposing it was true, could reasonably be imagined or desired to have.

X. That the practical duties which the Christian religion enjoins, are all such as are most 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, Christianity,--even in this single respect, as containing alone, and in one consistent system, all the wise and good precepts (and those improved, augmented, and exalted to the highest degree of perfection,) that ever were taught singly and scatteredly, and many times but very corruptly, by the several schools of the philosophers; and this without any mixture of the fond, absurd, and superstitious practices of any of those philosophers,--ought to be embraced and practised by all rational and considering deists, who will act consistently, and steadily pursue the consequences of their own principles; as at least the best scheme and sect of philosophy that ever was set 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 enforces the practice of these duties, are such as are must suitable to the excellent wisdom of God, and most answerable to the natural expectations of men.

XII. That the peculiar manner and circumstances with which it enjoins these duties and urges these motives, are exactly consonant to the dictates of sound reason, or the unprejudiced light of nature, and most wisely perfective of it.

XIII. That all the [credenda, or] doctrines, which the true, simple, and uncorrupted Christian religion teaches,--(that is, not only those plain doctrines which it requires to be believed as fundamental and of necessity to eternal salvation, but even all the doctrines which it teaches as matters of truths,)--are, though indeed many of them not discoverable by bare reason unassisted with revelation, yet, when discovered by revelation, apparently most agreeable to sound 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 wisest of the ancient philosophers ever did, or the cunningest of modern unbelievers can invent or contrive.

XIV. That as this revelation, to the judgment of right and sober reason, appears even of itself highly credible and probable, and abundantly recommends itself in its native simplicity, 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 satisfaction, and comfort, and good hope within themselves, from the conscience of what they do; so 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 commission, by the exact completion both of the prophecies that went before concerning him, and of those that he himself delivered concerning things that were to happen after, and by the testimony of his followers, which in all its circumstances was the most credible, certain, and convincing evidence, that was ever given to any matter of fact in the world.

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 of all their actions, would not be convinced, (so far as to influence their hearts, and reform their lives,) by any other evidence whatsoever; no, not though one should rise on purpose from the dead to endeavour to convince them.

I might here, Of the several sorts of deists. before I enter upon the particular proof of these several propositions, 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 same demonstrative 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 mixed proofs, from circumstances and testimony, as most matters of fact are only capable of, and wise and honest men are always satisfied with, ought to be accounted sufficient in the present case: Because all the principles indeed upon which atheists attempt to build their schemes, are such as may, by plain force of reason, and undeniably demonstrative argumentations, be reduced to express and direct contradictions. But 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 such deists as will truly stand to all the principles of unprejudiced reason, and sincerely, 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 Christianity be fairly proposed to him in its natural simplicity and 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 fixed and settled principles at all, upon which they can either argue or act consistently, but must of necessity sink 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 sort 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 [100] at the same time they agree with the Epicureans in this, that they fancy God does not at all concern himself in the government of the world, nor has any regard to, or care of, what is done therein. But if we examine things duly, this opinion must unavoidably terminate in absolute atheism. For though 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 infinite wisdom, foresight, and unerring design, have originally so ordered, disposed, and adapted all the springs and series of future necessary and unintelligent causes, that, without the immediate interposition of his almighty power upon every particular occasion, they should regularly, by virtue of that original disposition, have produced effects 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 motion, 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 must 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, so the late improvements in mathematics and natural philosophy have discovered that, as things now are, that scheme is plainly false and impossible 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 of power according to such certain and determinate laws; it is now evident, beyond question, that the bodies of all plants and animals, 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 so, but that most universal principle of gravitation itself, the spring of almost 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 solid substance of all bodies, and continually puts forth in them a force or power entirely different from that by which matter acts on matter: Which is, by the way, an evident demonstration, not only of the world's being made originally by a supreme intelligent cause, but moreover that it depends every moment on some superior being, for the preservation of its frame; and that all the great motions in it are caused by some immaterial power, not having originally impressed a certain quantity of motion upon matter, but perpetually and actually exerting itself every moment in every part of the world. Which preserving and governing power, whether it be immediately the power and action of the same supreme cause that created the world, of him without whom not a sparrow falls to the ground, and with whom the very hairs of our head are all numbered; or whether it be the action of some subordinate instruments appointed by him to direct and preside respectively over certain parts thereof; does either way equally give us a very noble idea of providence. Those men, indeed, who, merely through a certain vanity of philosophising, have been tempted to embrace that other opinion, of all things being produced and continued only by a certain quantity of motion, originally impressed on matter without any determinate design or direction, and left to itself to form a world at adventures; those men, I say, who, merely through a vanity of philosophising, have been tempted to embrace that opinion, without attending whither it would lead them, ought not, indeed, to be directly charged with all the consequences of it. But it is certain, that many, under that cover, have really been atheists; and the opinion itself (as I before said) leads necessarily, and by unavoidable consequence, to plain atheism. For if God be an all-powerful, omnipresent, intelligent, wise, and free being, (as it hath been before demonstrated that he necessarily is), he cannot possibly but know, at all times and in all places, every thing that is; and foreknow what at all times and in all places it is fittest and wisest should be; and have perfect power, without the least labour, difficulty, or opposition, to order and bring to pass what he so judges fit to be accomplished: and consequently it is impossible but he must actually direct and appoint [101] every particular thing and circumstance that is in the world, or ever shall be, excepting only what by his own pleasure he puts under the power and choice of subordinate free agents. If, therefore, God does not concern himself in the government of the world, nor has any regard to what is done therein, it will follow that he is not an omnipresent, all-powerful, intelligent and wise being; and, consequently, that he is not at all. Wherefore the opinion of this sort of deists stands not upon any certain consistent principles, but leads unavoidably to downright atheism; and, however in words they may confess a God, [102] yet in reality and in truth they deny him.

If, Human affairs not beneath the regard of Providence. to avoid this, they will own God's government and providence over the greater and more considerable parts of the world, but deny his inspection and regard to human affairs here upon earth, as being too minute and small for the supreme governor of all things to concern himself in; [103] this still amounts to the same. For if God be omnipresent, all-knowing, and all-powerful, he cannot but equally know, and with equal ease be able to direct and govern, [104] all things as any, and the minutest things [105] as the greatest. So that if he has no regard nor concern for these things, his attributes must, as before, be denied, and consequently his being. But, besides, human affairs are by no means the minutest and most inconsiderable part of the creation: For, (not to consider now, that excellency of human nature which Christianity discovers to us,) let a deist suppose the universe as large as the widest hypothesis of astronomy will give him leave to imagine, or let him suppose it as immense as he himself pleases, and filled with as great numbers of rational creatures as his own fancy can suggest; yet the system wherein we are placed will at least, for ought he can reasonably suppose, be as considerable as any other single system; and the earth whereon we dwell as considerable as most of the other planets in this system, and mankind manifestly the only considerable inhabitants on this globe of earth. Man, therefore, has evidently a better claim to the particular regard and concern of providence than any thing else in this globe of ours; and this our globe of earth as just a pretence to it as most other planets in the system; and this system as just a one, as far as we can judge, as any system in the universe. If therefore there be any providence at all, and God has any concern for any part of the world, mankind, even separate from the consideration of that excellency of human nature which the Christian doctrine discovers to us, may as reasonably be supposed to be under its particular care and government as any other part of the universe.

2. Of the second sort of deists. Some others there are that call themselves deists, because they believe, not only the being, but also the providence of God; that is, that every natural thing that is done in the world is produced by the power, appointed by the wisdom, and directed by the government of God. Though not allowing any difference between moral good and evil, they suppose that God takes no notice of the morally good or evil actions of men; these things depending, as they imagine, merely on the arbitrary constitution of human laws. But how handsomely soever these men may seem to speak of the natural attributes of God, of his knowledge, wisdom, and power, yet neither can this opinion be settled on any certain principles, nor defended by any consistent reasoning; nor can the natural attributes of God be so separated from the moral but that he who denies the latter may be reduced to a necessity of denying the former likewise. For since (as I have formerly proved,) there cannot but be eternal and necessary differences of different things, one from another, and, from these necessary differences of things, there cannot but arise a fitness or unfitness of the application of different things or different relations one to another; and infinite knowledge can no more fail to know, or infinite wisdom to choose, or infinite power to act, according to these eternal reasons and proportions of things, than knowledge can be ignorance, wisdom be folly, or power weakness; and consequently the justice and goodness of God are as certain and necessary as his wisdom and power;--it follows unavoidably, that he who denies the justi

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