Sidor som bilder

which are indued with reason can thereby apprehend the goodness of the end for which they work, and make choice of such means as are proportionable and proper for the obtaining of it, and so by their own counsel direct themselves unto it : yet can we not conceive that other natural agents, whose operations flow from a bare instinct, can be directed in their actions by any counsel of their own. The stone doth not deliberate whether it shall descend, nor doth the wheat take counsel whether it shall grow or no. Even men in natural actions use no act of deliberation : we do not advise how our heart shall beat, though without that pulse we cannot live; when we have provided nutriment for our stomach, we take no counsel how it shall be digested there, or how the chyle distributed to every part for the reparation of the whole; the mother which conceives taketh no care how that conceptus shall be framed, how all the parts shall be distinguished, and by what means or ways the child shall grow within her womb: and yet all these operations are directed to their proper ends, and that with a greater reason, and therefore by a greater wisdom, than what proceeds from any thing of human understanding. What then can be more clear, than that those natural agents which work constantly for those ends which they themselves cannot perceive, must be directed by some high and overruling wisdom? And who can be their director in all their operations tending to those ends, but he which gave them their being for those ends ? And who is that, but the great Artificer who works in all of them ? For art is so far the imitation of nature, that if it were not in the artificer, but' in the thing itself which by art is framed, the works of art and nature would be the same. Were that which frames a watch within it, and all those curious wheels wrought without the hand of man, it would seem to grow into that form; nor would there be any distinction between the making of that watch, and the growing of a plant. Now what the artificer is to works of art, who orders and disposes them to other ends

ένεκα πράττεται το πρότερον και το εφεξής. ουκούν ώς πράττεται, ούτω πέφυκε και ως πέφυκεν, ούτω πράττεται έκαστον, αν μη τι εμποδίζη πράττεται δε ένεκά του, και πέφυκεν άρα τούτου Ereka. Arist. Phys. 1. ii. c. 8, $ 7.

1 "Ατοπον το μή οίεσθαι ένεκά του γίνεσθαι, εάν μη ίδωσι το κινούν βουλευσάμενον καίτοι και η τέχνη ου βουλεύεται και γάρ ει ενην εν τω ξύλο ή ναυπηγική, ομοίως αν τη φύσει επoίει. Arist. ibid. & 15.

than by nature they were made, that is the Maker of all things to all natural agents, directing all their operations to ends which they cannot apprehend; and thus appears the Maker to be the ruler of the world', the steerer of this great ship, the law of this universal commonwealth, the general of all the hosts of heaven and earth. By these ways, as by the testi- 21 mony of the creature, we come to find an eternal and independent Being, upon which all things else depend, and by which all things else are governed ; and this we have before supposed to be the first notion of God.

Neither is this any private collection or particular ratiocination, but the public and universal reason of the world?. No age so distant, no country so remote, no people so barbarous, but gives a sufficient testimony of this truth. When the Roman Eagle flew over most parts of the habitable world, they met with atheism nowhere, but rather by their miscellany deities at Rome, which grew together with their victories, they shewed no nation was without its God. And since the later art of navigation improved hath discovered another part of the world, with which no former commerce hath been known, although the customs of the people be much different, and their manner of religion hold small correspondency with any in these parts of the world professed, yet in this all agree, that some religious observances they retain, and a Divinity they acknowledge. Or if any nation be discovered which maketh no profession of piety, and exerciseth no religious observances, it followeth not from thence that they acknowledge no God; for they may only deny his providence, as the Epicureans did; or if any go farther, their numbers are so few, that they must be inconsiderable in respect of mankind. And therefore so much of the CREED hath been the general confession of all nations“, I believe in God. Which were it not a most certain truth grounded upon principles obvious unto all, what reason could we give of so universal a consent; or

1 Καθόλου, όπερ εν νη μεν κυβερνήτης, έν άρματι δε ηνίοχος, εν χορώ δε κορυφαίος, εν πόλει δε νόμος, εν στρατοπέδω δε ηγεμών: τουτο θεός εν κόσμο. . Aristot. de Mund. c. 6, § 34.

2 ‘Habet Deus testimonia, totum hoc quod sumus, et in quo sumus.' Tertull. adv. Marc. 1. i. c. 10.

3 'Αρχαίος τις λόγος και πατριός εστι πάσιν ανθρώποις, ως εκ θεού τα πάντα και διά θεού ημίν συνέστηκεν. Aristot. de Mundo, c. 6, § 2.

4 "Nec ulla gens usquam est adeo extra leges moresque projecta, ut non aliquos Deos credat.' Sen. Epist. cxvii. 3 5.

how can it be imagined that all men should conspire to deceive themselves and their posterity'?

Nor is the reason only general, and the consent unto it universal, but God hath still preserved and quickened the worship due unto his name, by the patefaction of himself. Things which are to come are so beyond our knowledge, that the wisest man can but conjecture: and being we are assured of the contingency of future things, and our ignorance of the concurrence of several free causes to the production of an effect, we may be sure that certain and infallible predictions are clear divine patefactions. For none but he who made all things and gave them power to work, none but he who ruleth all things and ordereth and directeth all their operations to their ends, none but he upon whose will the actions of all things depend, can possibly be imagined to foresee the effects depending merely on those causes. And therefore by what means we may be assured of a prophecy, by the same we may be secured of a Divinity. Except then all the annals of the world were forgeries, and all remarks of history designed to put a cheat upon posterity, we can have no pretence to suspect God's existence, having so ample testimonies of his influ


The works of nature appear by observation uniform, and there is a certain sphere of every body's power and activity. If then any action be performed, which is not within the compass of the power of any natural agent; if any thing be wrought by the intervention of a body which beareth no proportion to it, or hath no natural aptitude so to work; it must be ascribed to a cause transcending all natural causes, and disposing all their operations. Thus every miracle proves its author, and every act of omnipotency is a sufficient demonstration of a Deity. And that man must be possessed with a strange opinion of the weakness of our fathers, and the testimony of all former ages, who shall deny that ever any miracle was wrought. We have heard with our ears, O God, Psal. xliv. 1; our fathers have told us what works thou didst in their days, in the times of old.Blessed be the Lord God, who only doth wondrous works.

Nor are we only informed by the necessary dependency

1 Nec in hunc furorem omnes da numina et inefficaces Deos.' Sen. mortales consensissent alloquendisur 1. iv. de Benef. c. 4.

lxxii, 18.

of all things on God, as effects upon their universal cause, or 22
his external patefactions unto others, and the consentient ac-
knowledgment of mankind; but every particular person hath
a particular remembrancer in himself, as a sufficient testimony

of his Creator, Lord, and Judge. We know there is a great Rom. il 15 force of conscience in all men, by which their thoughts are

ever accusing, or excusing them : they feel a comfort in those virtuous actions which they find themselves to have wrought according to their rule, a sting and secret remorse for all vicious acts and impious machinations. Nay those who strive most to deny a God, and to obliterate all sense of a Divinity out of their own souls, have not been least sensible of this remembrancer in their breasts. It is true indeed, that a false opinion of God, and a superstitious persuasion which hath nothing of the true God in it, may breed a remorse of conscience in those who think it true; and therefore some may hence collect that the force of conscience is only grounded upon an opinion of a Deity, and that opinion may be false. But if it be a truth, as the testimonies of the wisest writers of most different persuasions, and experience of all sorts of persons of most various inclinations, do agree, that the remorse of conscience can never be obliterated, then it rather proveth than supposeth an opinion of a Divinity; and that man which most peremptorily denieth God's existence is the greatest argument himself that there is a God. Let Caligula profess himself an atheist, and with that profession hide his head, or run under his bed, when the thunder strikes his ears, and lightning flashes in his eyes; those terrible works of nature put him in mind of the power, and his own guilt of the justice of God; whom while in his wilful opinion he weakly denieth, in his involuntary action he strongly asserteth. So that a Deity will either be granted or extorted, and where it is not acknowledged it will be manifested. Only unhappy is that man who denies him to himself, and proves him to others;

who will not acknowledge his existence, of whose power he Acts xvii. 27. cannot be ignorant. God is not far from every one of us.

The proper discourse of St Paul to the philosophers of Athens was, that they might feel after him and find him. Some


1 'Est hæc summa delicti, nolle agnoscere quem ignorare non possis.'

S. Cyprian. [Quod idola dii non sint, $ 9, p. 27.)

Acts xvii. 28.

children have been so ungracious as to refuse to give the honour due unto their parent, but never any so irrational as to deny they had a father. As for those who have dishonoured God, it may stand most with their interest, and therefore they may wish there were none; but cannot consist ith their reason to assert there is none, when even the very poets of the heathen have taught us that we are his offspring.

It is necessary thus to believe there is a God, first, because there can be no divine faith without this belief. For all faith is therefore only divine, because it relieth upon the authority of God giving testimony to the object of it; but that which hath no being can have no authority, can give no testimony. The ground of his authority is his veracity; the foundations of his veracity are his omniscience and sanctity, both which suppose his essence and existence, because what is not is neither knowing nor holy.

Secondly, It is necessary to believe a Deity, that thereby we may acknowledge such a nature extant as is worthy of, and may justly challenge from us, the highest worship and adoration. For it were vain to be religious and to exercise devotion, except there were a Being to which all such holy applications were most justly due. Adoration implies submission and dejection, so that while we worship we cast down ourselves: there must be therefore some great eminence in the object worshipped, or else we should dishonour our own nature in the worship of it. But when a Being is presented of that intrinsical and necessary perfection, that it depends on nothing, and all things else depend on that, and are wholly

governed and disposed by it, this worthily calls us to our 23 knees, and shews the humblest of our devotions to be but just and loyal retributions.

This necessary truth hath been so universally received, that we shall always find all nations of the world more prone unto idolatry than to atheism, and readier to multiply than deny the Deity. But our faith teacheth us equally to deny them both, and each of them is renounced in these words, I believe in God. First, in God affirmatively, I believe he is, against atheism. Secondly, in God exclusively, not in gods, against polytheism and idolatry. Although therefore the existence and unity of God be two distinct truths, yet are they of so necessary dependence and intimate coherence, that

« FöregåendeFortsätt »