Page images

all things to concern himself in ;* this still amounts INTRO. 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,t all things as any, and the minutest thingst 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


* Εισί γάρ τινες και νομίζεσιν είναι τα θεία, και τοιαύτα διάπερ ο λόγος αυτά εξεφηνεν, αγαθά, και δυναμιν έχοντα την ακροτάτην, και γνώσιν την τελειοτάτην. των μεντοι ανθρωπίνων καταφρονείν, ώς μικρών και ευτελών όντων, και αναξίων της εαυτών επιμελείας.-Simplic. in Epictet.

+ Deorum providentia mundus administratur; idemque consulunt rebus humanis ; neque solum universis, verum etiam singulis. -Cic. de Divinal. lib. 1.

+ 'Αλλ' εδέν τάχ ανίσως έιη χαλεπόν ενδείξασθαι τούτόγε, ως επιμελείς σμικρών εισι θεοί, εκ ητίον ή των μεγέθει διάφερόντων.-Plato de Leg. lib. 10.

Ει δε του όλα κόσμε ο θεός επιμελείται ανάγκη και των μερών αυτού προνοείν , ώσπες και αι τέχναι ποιούσι. Και γάρ ιατρός του όλα σώματος επιμεληθήναι προθέμενος, ούκ άν αμελήσεις των μερών» ουδε στρατηγός δευοικονόαος, ή πολιτικός ανήρ των γάρ μερών αμελεμένων, ανάγκη χειρόνως το άλον dià TiSeodal.- Simplic. in Epictet.


[ocr errors]

Of the

[ocr errors]

INTRO. 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. Some others there are that call themselves deists, second sort because they believe, not only the being, but also the of deists.

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 dif-
ference 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 ima-
gine, 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
duced 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 fit-
ness 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 wis-
dom 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,

be reQuasi ego

that he who denies the justice or goodness of God, ÎNTRO. or, which is all one, denies his exercise of these attributes in inspecting and regarding the moral actions of men, must also deny, either his wisdom, or his power, or both; and, consequently, must needs be driven into absolute atheism : For though in some moral matters men are not indeed to be judged of by the consequences of their opinions, but by their profession and practice, yet in the present case* it matters not at all what men affirm, or how honourably they may seem to speak of some particular attributes of God; but what, notwithstanding such profession, must needs in all reason be supposed to be their true opinion ; and their practice generally

l appears answerable to it.

For, concerning these two sorts of deists, it is ob- Profane servable, that as their opinions can terminate consis- and dem tently in nothing but downright atheism, so their deists not practice and behaviour is generally agreeable to that capable of of the most openly professed atheists. They not

being ar.

gued with. only oppose the revelation of Christianity, and reject all the moral obligations of natural religion, as such, but generally they despise also the wisdom of all human constitutions made for the order and benefit of mankind, and are as much contemners of common decency as they are of religion. They endeavour to ridicule and banter all human as well as divine accomplishments; all virtue and government of a man's self, all learning and knowledge, all wisdom and honour, and every thing for which a man can justly be commended or be esteemed more excellent than a beast. They pretend commonly, in their discourse and writings, to expose the abuses and corruptions of religion; but (as is too manifest in some of their books as well as in their talk, they aim really against all virtue in general, and all good manners, and against whatsoever is truly

id curem, quid ille aiat aut neget : Illud

quæro, quid et consentaneum sit dicere,, qui, &c.—Cic. de Finib. lib. 2.

INTRO. valuable and commendable in men, They pre

tend to ridicule certain vices and follies of ignorant
or superstitious men; but the many very profane
and very lewd images, with which they industrious-
ly affect to dress up their discourse, show plainly
that they really do not so much intend to expose and
deride any vice or folly, as on the contrary to foment
and please the debauched and vicious inclinations of
others as void of shame as themselves. They dis-
cover clearly, that they have no sense at all of the
dignity of human nature, nor of the superiority and
excellency of their reason above even the meanest
of the brutes. They will sometimes in words seem
to magnify the wisdom, and other natural attributes
of God, but in reality, by ridiculing whatever bears
any resemblance to it in men, they show undeniably
that they do not indeed believe there is any real dif.
ference in things, or any true excellency in one thing
more than in another. By turning every thing alike,
and without exception, into ridicule and mockery,
they declare plainly that they do not believe any
thing to be wise, any thing decent, any thing come-
ly or praiseworthy at all. They seem not to have
any esteem or value for those distinguishing powers
and faculties; by induing them wherewith God has
“ taught them more than the beasts of the field,
and made them wiser than the fowls of heaven.'
In a word ; “ Whatsoever things are true, whatso-
ever things are honest, whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are
lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there
be any virtue, if there be any praise;"+ these things
they make the constant subject of their mockery and
abuse, ridicule and raillery. On the contrary, what-
soever things are profane, impure, filthy, disho-
nourable, and absurd ; these things they make it
their business to represent as harmless and indiffer-
ent, and to laugh men out of their natural shame
and abhorrence of them ; nay, even to recom-


*Job xxxv. 11. 4Phil. iv. 8.

of deists.

mend them with their utmost wit. Such men as INTRO. these are not to be argued with, till they can be persuaded to use arguments instead of drollery: For banter is not capable of being answered by reason; not because it has any strength in it, but because it runs out of all the bounds of reason and good sense, by extravagantly joining together such images as have not in themselves any manner of similitude or connexion; by which means all things are alike easy to be rendered ridiculous, by being represented only in an absurd dress. These men, therefore, are first to be convinced of the true principles of reason before they can be disputed with ; and then they must of necessity either retreat into downright atheism, or be led by undeniable reasoning to acknowledge and submit to the obligations of morality, and heartily repent of their profane abuse of God and religion.

3. Another sort of deists there are, who, having of the right apprehensions concerning the natural attributes third sort of God, and his all-governing providence, seem also to have some notion of his moral perfections also. That is, as they believe him to be a being infinitely knowing, powerful, and wise, so they believe him to be also in some sense a being of infinite justice, goodness, and truth, and that he governs the universe by these perfections, and expects suitable obedience from all his rational creatures. But then, having a prejudice against the notion of the immortality of human souls, they believe that men perish entirely at death, and that one generation shall per, petually succeed another, without any thing remaining of men after their departure out of this life, and without any future restoration or renovation of things. And imagining that justice, and goodness in God, are not the same as in the ideas we frame of these perfections, when we consider them in men, or when we reason about them abstractly in themselves, but that in the supreme governor of the world they are something transcendent, and of which we cannot make any true judgment, nor argue with any cer

« PreviousContinue »