BY EDWARD PELLING, D. D. Rector of Petworth in Sussex, and Chaplain in Ordinary to His Majesty.

LONDON: Printed for William Rogers, at the Sun against St. Dunstan's Church in Fleet street. MDCXCVI.


  • THE Introduction. Page 1
  • CHAP. 1. Concerning the Notion of God in general; viz. A Being that is Eminently and Ab­solutely Perfect. What such Perfection meaneth. A more particular Notion of God drawn out by Necessary Consequences. That he is a Being Independent, Eternal, Spiritual, Intelligent, Omnipotent, per­fectly Good and Righteous. This Idea of God is Intelligible and Rational. 7
  • CHAP. II. The Existence of this most Perfect Being proved by Four great Arguments. First, The Necessity of a First, Independent Cause: The Origine of all Motion and Life. The World not Eternal, but made by a Deity. 37
  • [Page] CHAP. III. Secondly, The general Consent of Man­kind, even the Ancient Heathens, and Modern Idolaters, touching One Su­preme Numon. The Singularity of a few Atheists of old, not to be valued. This Consent proceeded not from meer Tradition, nor Fear, nor State-Polity, nor Common Compact; but from a Prin­ciple in Humane Nature, derived from the Great Author of it. No Argument of the truth of Idolatry. 54
  • CHAP. IV. Thirdly, Extraordinary Occurrences. As, first, Miracles. Three sorts of True Miracles. These, Arguments of a God. True Miracles have been realy done. The Credibility of those done by Moses, and Jesus Christ. Of Strange Works done by Idolaters. A distinction be­tween Miracles in Appearance, and Mi­racles Divine. 107
  • [Page] CHAP. V. Then, Predictions of future, contingent E­vents. Such Predictions there have been; some relating to the Ancient Em­pires; others to Jesus Christ; others to some memorable Events after Christ's Ascension. 161
  • CHAP. VI. A Fourth Argument of the Existence of God, is taken from the Admirable State of the Universe. And, First, Of the Excellent Order into which the several parts of the world are digested. Their Commodious Situation. Their mutual Relation. And the Permanency of them in their Natures and Operations. All this could not come to pass by Chance; but is a Proof of the Existence of a God. The Senseless Conceits of Scep­ticks; with a Confutation of them. 191
  • [Page] CHAP. VII. A Second thing observable in the State of the Universe, is the Beauty of its Parts; their Multitudes, Splendor, Va­riety; together with the Comeliness of their Frame. The Pretences of Scep­ticks answer'd, concerning the Opera­tions of Plastick Nature. 257
  • CHAP. VIII. The Third is, The Usefulness of the seve­ral Parts of this Visible Word. First as to their Ends and Tendencies: The Usefulness of the Heavenly Bodies in their Nature and Motions: Of the Air; of the Seas, and their Saltness; of Springs, and Mountains; and of all the Furniture of the Earth. The useful Structure of things in order to their Ends; particularly of Trees, and Ani­mals; of Natrition and Sensation in Ani­mals; and of the Fabrication of their Parts in order thereunto. The Evasion of Scepticks concerning the Uses of things, answered. 285
  • [Page] CHAP. IX. The Fourth is, The resemblance of Know­ledge and Wisdom which appears even in Irrational Creatures. The constant Regularity of them in the manner of their Operations; and the seeming Sa­gacity of them, as to their Ends. This a clear Argument of a Deity; because of themselves they design no End; nor do they understand the Reason, or Ten­dency of Means; nor do they delibe­rate about the choice of Means. This too is a demonstration of the Existence of God. The Shifts of Atheists, as to this, consider'd also. 352
  • CHAP. X. The Fifth is, The Ample Provision which is made for the good of all Needy Crea­tures: For their Formation and Produ­ction, and for their Preservation after­wards from outward Assaults, and un­timely Deaths: Proper Food provided in all Climates; and suitable to all Conditions and Tempers. Proper Reme­dies for all Endemial Diseases. 385
  • [Page] CHAP. XI. The Sixth is, The Admirable Frame of Human Nature. The Excellence of the Rational Soul in its Nature and Facul­ties, which is proved at large to be a manifestation of the Existence of a God. The Evasions of Scepticks consider'd. The Conclusion. 419

A DISCOURSE Concerning the Existence of GOD.

THE Nature of Mankind, consider'd as Rational Beings, is made up of such Faculties, that they are not only capable of Religion (that is, sitted and qualified to believe that there is a Being vastly Superior to them, and to know and worship that High Being in some agreeable sort and measure); but they are moreover general­ly inclin'd to Religion, prone to it, and pleas'd with it, as a thing which is suita­ble and correspondent to their Faculties; so that in all Ages, and in all Nations, people have profest some kind of Religi­on or other: Nay even Barbarous People, [Page 2] rather than they would be wanting in Religious Performances, have abounded in great variety of Supersitions; and be­fore they would be Atheists, have been downright Idolaters; adoring a plurality of Gods, rather than they would own no Deity at all; which shews that Religion is in some sense natural to the Soul of man; and that the Corruption which is in mens Practises, proceeds from a defect of Light in their Understandings, from those many Ignorances and Errors where­with they are possest. Were it not for this, True Religion would be the great Profession of the whole World.

There are especially Three Great Er­rors which have strangely misguided and corrupted the minds of some men, and consequently have taken off that power and influence, which otherwise Religion would have had over them, even from natural Conscience: And these relate, ei­ther to the Being of God, or to his Na­ture, or to his Government of the World, and Judiciary power over it.

1. First, Some reject all belief of God's Being, or at least question very much the truth of such a Belief; and so of course con­ceive Religion to be, not of Divine, but [Page 3] Humane Institution; a piece of State-Po­licy, devised and set up by cunning men, for the better keeping of Human Societies in order and peace. To such men Reli­gion must needs seem an indifferent mat­ter, not worth their time or pains to concern themselves much about, nor to care whether this or that mode of Religi­on be professed, because they look upon all Religion as an Artifice, an Invention that is alterable at pleasure, as the Reasons of State, and Civil Policy require.

2. Secondly, Some acknowledge the Be­ing of God, together with the inward Ne­cessity, Reasonableness, and Excellency of Religion in general; but yet are much mistaken as to the particular manner of their Religion, and in their way of wor­shipping God; because they are greatly mistaken in their notions of his Nature. For they apprehend him to be not such as he really is, but such a one as they would have him be; either a very tame and gentle Being, that is easily pleas'd with formal Professions of Respect; or a very Partial Being, that is kind only to one Sect of People; or an Arbitrary, Au­stere, and Rigid Being, that seeketh to hurt, and delighteth in the Miseries of Mankind. Accordingly, as their Appre­hensions [Page 4] of God's Nature are, so they form and suit the Scheme of their Religi­on towards him; which must needs be still as uncouth and improper, as those Principles are false, upon which the whole model of their Religious Worship stands.

3. Thirdly, Some are willing enough to believe the Reality of God's Being, and the glorious Excellence of his Nature; but yet conceive, that he is so happy in himself, and in the enjoyment of his own Perfections, that he doth not meddle with the Tumultuous Affairs of the Sublunary World, nor takes any notice of the Acti­ons of men; and consequently, that he will not take men to an account for their Actions another day. And as long as they go upon this Principle, what vene­rable thoughts soever they may have of the Divine Majesty, it cannot be expected that they should have any great regard for themselves; but that their Lives will be very dissolute and irreligious.

Therefore, to retrench these Evils, and to settle True Religion upon its right bot­tom, these Three things are highly neces­sary to be done.

1. First, To convince men of the Rea­lity of God's Existence; which is the [Page 5] Prime, the Fundamental Business of all Religion; For he that cometh to God, must believe that he is, saith the Apostle, Heb. 11. 6. And the thing is self-evident: For all Religion being supposed to be di­rected towards God, and to terminate in him, before men can be satisfied of the Necessity or Usefulness of Religion, they must be persuaded of the Reality of God's Existence.

As that Great Man of a Pagan, Cicero, De Nat. Deor. lib. 1. observes: If there be no God, or if God takes no care of Humane Affairs, what Pie­ty, Sanctity, or Religion can there be? for these things relate purely, and properly, and only to the Majesty of God, upon this Suppo­sition, That God takes notice of them; and that God is a Rewarder of Mankind. But if God cannot do us good, or will not do it; if he be not at all concern'd for us, nor ob­serves what we do, nor gives us any thing that is of use to the Life of men; what en­couragement can there be for us to offer Worship, Honour, and Prayers unto him?

2. Secondly, It is necessary also to give men a right account of those Attributes and Perfections which are the Splendor of God's Nature: Because, as his Nature is the Standard or Rule of all Religious Worship that is acceptable to him (for [Page 6] what is not agreeable to his Nature, can never be grateful to his Mind) so is the true knowledge of his Nature the greatest motive to those Acts of Worship which are well-pleasing to him; (for what can more induce you to adore him with Prayers and Praises, with Reverence, Chearfulness, and Love, than to be well assured, that the Object of your Adora­tion is a Being infinitely Wise, Righteous, Powerful, and Good?)

3. Thirdly, It is necessary likewise to shew the Acts and Ends of God's Provi­dence, as well as to prove his Existence, and to explain his Attributes: That he is no Retired Being, no Careless Gover­nour, no Unconcern'd Spectator of Affairs here below; but that he doth dispose, order, and superintend all things now, that at last he may judge the World in Righteousness, and may shew himself a Rewarder of them who diligently seek him. For, as this doth excite men to humi­lity, patience, resignation, self-denial, and to all manner of obedience to God's Will, so it naturally serves to make them work out their salvation with fear and trembling.

These Three things being of such ap­parent Use, and of such vast Concern­ment and Importance, I shall adventure, [Page] by God's assistance and blessing, to dis­course of them in some little measure sui­table to my own poor Abilities; and that in as clear, as succinct, and as practical a manner as I can; though I am sensible be­fore-hand what Difficulties must occur upon so Divine a Subject, and what Time and Labour it must cost to go through so great an Undertaking.

At present I shall enter upon the Con­sideration of God's Existence; most hum­bly beseeching that Father of Lights, of whose Essence and Perfections I presume to speak, so to illuminate my Understand­ing, and to direct my Heart, that I may not conceive any thing that shall in any wise detract from the Honour of a Being so transcendently Great, so Glorious, so Adorable.


IN treating of this Fundamental Point, the Existence of God, I shall cast the Sum of my following Meditations under these Principal Heads, as the Boundaries of this whole Discourse.

[Page 8]I. First, It must be enquired, what the Notion of God implies and signifies; or what is meant by that Appella­tion.

II. Secondly, It must be shew'd, that there really is a Supreme and Bles­sed Being, whom we call GOD.

III. And then Thirdly, It must be con­sider'd, what Practical Inferences may be deduced from this Truth.

I. First, As to the first Principal Head, concerning the Notion of God; it is ei­ther general, or more particular: Both which being rightly consider'd, it will evidently appear, what conception or no­tion we have in our minds, when we think of that Nature, or Being, which is called by the name of God.

1. In general, The notion of God sig­nifies a Being which is eminently and ab­solutely Perfect. Though we cannot give a full definition of that Being, because it is impossible for our finite and scanty Fa­culties to entertain a conception that is exactly answerable and adequate to a Na­ture supposed to be Infinite; yet this is an intelligible description of God, and the best [Page 9] description we can make for a short one; That God is in the highest degree the most perfect of all Beings, which either have an existence, or are possible to exist. How different soever the Name of God be in the several Languages of the World; and how various soever those ways have been, whereby people in all Countreys have exprest their thoughts of God; all men who have believed and spoken of a Supreme Numen, or Deity, did mean a Nature distinct from all other things, and the Best, the Noblest, the most Excellent and Admirable; that is, a most Perfect Being.

That I may open this matter through­ly, I must desire you to observe Two things.

1. First, That the Perfection of a thing is that wherein the worth and ex­cellence of it doth chiefly consist. As, in Inanimate Bodies, the perfection of them is Substance, for in that they excel a Shadow. In Vegetables, the perfection of them is Life; for in that they excel Minerals and Stones. In Animals, the perfection of them is Sense; for in that they excel all Plants, and Trees. And in Men, the perfection of them is Reason; [Page 10] for in that they excel all Brutes. So that for a thing to be perfect, is to possess that dignity and valuableness which chiesly belongs to its Nature.

2. You must note, That Eminent and Absolute Perfection consisteth in posses­sing after a singular manner, and in the highest degree, all kind of Excellence, without the least mixture of Defect, or Imperfection. Such Defects and Imper­fections there are in all Creatures. In all Bodies there is Substance; but such as is wrapt up in Matter, which is a great imperfection in comparison of Spirituali­ty. In all Vegetables there is Life; but such as is subject to decay, which in them is imperfection. In all Animals there is Sense, or Perception; but such as is at­tended with Fear, Grief, Anger, and other disquieting Passions, which are so many Imperfections in their Nature. In Men, there is Reason; but such as is ble­misht with Ignorance and Errors; and the knowledge they have, is acquired by the great labours of the Mind, by Con­templation and Study, by close arguing from one thing to another, and by a long train of thoughts, which follow each other successively, and are gradually spun out of the Soul by the painful operations of [Page 11] the Rational Faculties; all which shews the Defects and Imperfections that are in Humane Nature also. And as for those Blessed Spirits above, which we call An­gels, though there be in them a perfe­ction of Understanding, without dulness, pain, or laborious activity; and though there be too rectitude in their Wills, re­gularity in their Affections, and all moral Perfections which make them happy, yet is their Knowledge limited; and for their whole Being, they depend upon the Will and Pleasure of a Superior Power, that at first created, and still preserves them; which argues imperfection in them like­wise, although they be the noblest part of the Universe. Go through every Clas­sis and sort of Individuals in the World, and you will find in all of them some De­ficiencies which are annext to their Prin­cipal and Best Part; so that though they be all perfect in their kind, and sit for the Ends for which they were formed, yet they fall vastly short of Eminent and Ab­solute Perfection: For such Perfection is to have all kinds of Excellence, and all de­grees of Excellence, clear and free from all manner of Defect, indigence, or Inca­pacity.

[Page 12]Now the Notion of God includes this Absolute Perfection. For that word, GOD, speaks a Being that is most Excel­lent: So that supposing a Deity to be, and to be the Cause of all Inferior things (which the Notion of God implies too) you must necessarily conceive of him, as the Being, in whom all those Perfections are united, as in a Center, which are di­vided every-where in the World; and that they are all in Him in a most emi­nent and excellent Degree. For no Be­ing can give those Perfections which some way or other it hath not, either formally or actually, or virtually and eminently in it self; because then it would communi­cate more than it hath; that is, more than what is in its power to impart; which to suppose, would be a contradi­ction. All Causes that work by a neces­sity of Nature, though they operate to the utmost power and extent of their Fa­culties, yet 'tis as impossible for them to yield what they have not, as it is for Water to bring forth a Rational Soul, or for Fire to produce an Angel out of a few Sticks. And though Voluntary Agents work as they please, and may give their Effects much less than themselves have; yet 'tis as impossible for the Freest and [Page 13] Powerful Agent to give more, as it is for an Artificer to form a World out of no­thing. The thing it self cannot admit of such Omnipotence: And so we may be sure, that neither could God bestow Perfections which he himself was not pos­sest of; and therefore, those Excellencies which we find in Nature, and which are the Perfections of Nature, must be conclu­ded to come from the Author of Nature; and consequently to be in him, as in their true Original; for otherwise there would be more Excellencies in the Effects, than there are in the Cause; which is as ab­surd to suppose, as it is to imagine, that there is more Water in a Rivulet, than in the Ocean.

Again; As all Perfection must be con­ceiv'd to be in that Supreme, most Excel­lent, and most Glorious Nature, which we call GOD; so it must be there too Ab­solutely, or without the least mixture of Defect. All defect must be in the Crea­ture; and that, not so much by imme­diate Causality from God, as by the ne­cessary Condition of its own Nature; be­cause it is a thing made, and of Tempo­rary production; and therefore of a Fi­nite Nature, and of Limited Faculties; that is, it must be essentially imperfect; [Page 14] especially in comparison of its Creator; it being utterly impossible for a Narrow, Scanty, New-form'd thing to be com­mensurate in all its Perfections to the Maker, who is supposed to be Indepen­dent, Infinite, and All-sufficient in him­self. The Nature of the thing made, cannot allow this; and by consequence it is naturally and necessarily defective. Upon which account, though we must conclude, that God is a Perfect Being because all Perfections in other things are derived from Him; yet we may not conceive, that he hath any mixture of Desiciency, because the things he hath made are all of them defective in some respect or other: For those Defects are so natural, that the things themselves could not possibly have been made other­wise, or without them.

Therefore, as we must affirm, That the Perfections which are in the World, are limited and partial, blended and alloy'd with something that is a blemish to them; so we must conceive, that those Originals of them which are in God, are Boundless and Full, Eminent and Absolute: For to think otherwise, is to degrade the Au­thor of all Perfections; and in truth, to make the Notion of a Deity inconsistent with it self.

[Page 15]I have been the more desirous to clear this matter, That the general Notion of God doth and must signify a Being which is Eminently and Absolutely Perfect; be­cause it is a very Rational Principle, which may be fairly understood, and must needs be assented to by all that will but hearken to Right Reason: And because it is a very useful Principle also, that will soon inable us to draw out of it, by direct consequence, a more

2. Particular Description of the Deity; which is the Second thing I am to come to; that I may shew what kind of Being we are to apprehend God to be, before I go about to prove, that this suppos'd most Perfect Being doth really and actu­ally Exist. For, from this great, and Ge­neral Notion of God, this Particular Ac­count will follow.

1. First, We must conceive of God, that he is an Independent Being; not be­holding to any Antecedent, Distinct, and Foreign Cause, for the production of his Nature. For could we (without a con­tradiction) suppose a Cause Antecedent to that, which is thought to be the Chief and First Cause of all things? such a Supposi­tion [Page 16] would argue Imperfection in the Dei­ty: Because it would make him a Precari­ous Being, depending upon the Activity and Pleasure of Another, Superior to him in greatness of Power, and before him in Time, and in Existence of Nature.

2. God having all Perfection in him­self, we must conceive of him to be of an Endless Life. For all decay of Life pro­ceeds from a defect, infirmity, or limita­tion in the Essence of the Thing; so that without the help of a stronger Hand, it cannot for ever hold up, and last. And since Life is one of those Perfections which we poor sinful men enjoy, it ne­cessarily follows, that, as it must be in our Maker, so it must be in him in a most eminent and absolute degree; that is, utterly void of all possibility of ever ending.

3. We must, from the Absolute Per­fection of God, conceive him to be a Fountain of Life, without any Beginning likewise. For, whatever had a beginning, must be concluded in that respect defe­ctive; because it once wanted, not only those Perfections which Beings enjoy, but even Being it self. And besides, that which began, may end, as we see all the successive Productions of Nature do. [Page 17] Therefore since the Notion of God sig­nifies Perfection of all Kinds, and in all degrees, Reason will tell you that God must have such Perfection of Essence, as to be of a boundless Life, or be everlast­sting from everlasting.

4. The Notion of God's absolute Per­fection necessitates us to conclude, that he is a most perfect Substance, or a Being that subsisteth of himself by the absolute fulness of his own Nature. Indeed we cannot form an adequate and positive Notion of the Divine Substance, as nei­ther can we of the Substance of our own Souls, though they are the noblest Be­ings of this lower World. For our out­ward Senses, which are the great Instru­ments of Knowledge, are perpetually used to corporeal and gross Ideas; and God being a spirit, John 4. 24. cannot be the Object of any such sensation. But yet, we may rationally render him an Object of our Minds; such an Object as our Minds are capable of viewing, by ab­stracting Matter and Corporeity from our Apprehensions of him. This Reason inforces us to do, because materiality is a defect in the thing that is made up of it; for as it limits and consines the thing to one particular place at once (which is most [Page 18] unsuitable to the conception of a Being that is said to fill heaven and earth. Jer. 23. 24) so it makes the thing divisible, and consequently subject to Dissolution, which is utterly incompatible with the Perfection of God's Life. Therefore Rea­son compels us to do away these Imper­fections from our Notions of God, and to conceive of him as a Spiritual Sub­stance, which I shall shew hereafter in its proper place, is far from being an irratio­nal Notion, however some are pleas'd to reject and deride it.

5. Since the Notion of God implies the excellence of Perfection, we must conceive of him, that he is too a discern­ing and understanding Substance. For Per­ception being the excellence of all Ani­mals, whereby they are much more per­fect than senseless Matter, or inanimate Stocks and Stones; this excellence must needs, after the most perfect and sublime manner, be in that most exalted Nature, from which all Perfection is suppos'd to have been derived. The Psalmist appeals to the common Reason of Mankind, where he argueth, Psalm 94. 9, 10. He that planted the ear, shall not he bear? he that formed the eye, shall not be see? And so, He that teacheth men knowledge, shall [Page 19] not he know? Though Perception is not wrought in God by Impressions that af­fect material Organs, nor is attended with plain and disturbance, as in Crea­tures, who are necessarily imperfect; yet the Reason of the thing shews, that he is a Sentient, Percipient Being, an intelli­gent Nature or Mind, that acteth in a way which is suitable to the condition of a most glorious Being.

6. And hence it follows, That we must conceive of God, that he is a most per­fect Mind, or a Being that knows all things, and is conscious of all things that are possible to be known, and that not by such discourse or succession of Thoughts and Reasonings as imperfect Beings are sain to use; but by intuitive Acts, and by a direct immediate view. Though knowledge be a great Perfection in Men and Angels, yet to know things gradu­ally, and by piece-meals, and with a li­mited apprehension, is in the Creature a plain defect, and therefore it must be abstracted or remov'd from our Concep­tions of God.

7. Again, there is in us all a vigorous principle of Activity, whereby we are able to do those things which our Desires and Wills incline us to perform in our [Page 20] Sphere, and as far as this principle of Acti­vity carries us. This also is a Perfecti­on; but yet such as is intermingled with defects, because the Execution of our Power is laborious, nay finite; innume­rable things being utterly impossible for the most mighty Men upon the Earth to compass, though their Wits and Industry should be never so great, and though all their force were united. Upon this ac­count Reason will tell you, that God being a Nature absolutely Perfect, all manner of Impotence is to be shut out of our Notions of him, because all Impo­tence is a defect, and therefore inconsi­stent with, and repugnant unto the Ex­cellencies of the Deity; and consequently we must conceive him to be fully able to produce and do by the Act of his own free Will, whatever doth not imply a contra­diction, or whatever is conceivable and possible in it self, and can stand well with the other Perfections of his Nature.

8. Further yet; The Notion of God signifying a Nature that is eminently and absolutely Perfect, we must conceive him to be a good Being likewise; nay, the best of all Beings. By Goodness here is meant, that excellent and most amiable Disposi­tion of Mind, which still prompts one [Page 21] to be Communicative, Kind, Gracious, Compassionate, and Benificent. 'Tis the best Virtue, that which we may call the Perfection of all Pefections; that which commands Honour and Love from all; that which is the Beauty, the Excellency, the Glory of Humane Nature, and therefore it necessarily and eminently belongs to the best Being, that Divine and most Glori­ous Nature, which all People have ever adored for its transcendent Goodness. Love is of God, saith the Apostle, 1 John 4. 7. He is the overflowing Spring and Fountain of all that Benignity which runs through the World; therefore St. John spoke like a great Philosopher, as well as a Divine, in saying, ver. 8. God is love, that is, a Blessed Nature made up of Goodness, the Mirror and Perfection of it; for there must be in this case, much more in the Cause than there can be in the Effects, which are of a finite, nar­row, and slender Capacity, as the fa­culties of all created Beings are; whence it appears, that the glorious Deity cannot be a selfish, envious, malevolent, spite­ful, or cruel Being, because these and the like Dispositions of Mind are wretched Defects, or Vices rather, which belong to the Devils in Hell, and to Devils In­carnate; [Page 22] nor, though he be Omnipotent, and perfectly Powerful, can he act like an Arbitrary, Tyrannical Being, void of Compassion and Tenderness. All this is inconsistent with that great Benignity which is necessarily included in the No­tion of God, whose boundless Perfecti­ons argue him to be a most desirable Good, a most adorable and charming Object of our Affections; most bounti­ful, benign, merciful, gracious, long­suffering, tender-hearted, ready to be­stow upon all that are capable, the greatest felicities that 'tis possible for us to enjoy or desire.

9. Once more: From the general No­tion of God, that he is a Being absolute­ly and eminently Perfect, we must con­ceive him to be a God of perfect Equity and Justice, always acting according to the eternal Rules of right Reason, and the quality of Things. There are some Principles of Righteousness so natural to the Soul of Man, that they begin to ap­pear as soon as humane common Rea­son begins to work. And these are such Perfections in us, as set us above the rest of the Sublunary World, and indeed make us excel one another, so that the Righteous is more valuable than his [Page 23] Neighbour, what difference soever may be otherwise in their outward Circum­stances and Fortunes. These Principles could not come but from the common Author of our Nature; and their Extra­ction shews him to be most exact him­self in the Government and Disposal of his Creatures, in whom all Iniquity is a great desect, (to say no worse) because it proceeds either from want of due Know­ledge, or from want of honest Intention; both which are Imperfections in our Na­ture, nay, Reproaches and Scandals to it. Therefore that most perfect Nature which presideth over all, must be con­ceiv'd to be most righteous towards all that are under his Care and Power: So that as there is no ground for unreason­able Fears from his Omnipotence, in re­gard of his great Goodness and Benignity; so neither is there sufficient ground for Presumption from his Benignity, in re­gard of his great Justice; because, as he has given us equal Laws, so he will give upon us very equal Judgment, and ren­der to every man according to his works, Rom. 2. 6.

The Sum is, if People would rightly understand and consider what the Noti­on [Page 24] of God imports, they could not but look upon him as the most lovely and desi­rable Being in the whole World; and in­stead of denying his Existence, would be glad that there is a Being over them so transcendently Perfect, so proper and suitable for them in this their imperfect State, that supposing he did not exist, all Mankind (all good Men to be sure) would have reason to wish he did.

Therefore, before I entred upon trea­ting of God's Existence, I thought it needful for me by way of Preparation to shew, what the word GOD meaneth, according to the common Sense of Man­kind: in general, A Being or Nature that is eminently and absolutely Perfect; and in particular, a Being that is Unmade, Independent, Ever-living; a Spiritual Being, subsisting of Himself; discerning, understanding, and knowing all things; able to do whatsoever is agreeable to his Will and Nature; an inexhaustible Foun­tain of Love and Goodness; that to com­municate his Goodness, and to display his Nature, made the Universe; and ever since the Creation hath govern'd all things, inspecting the Works of his Hands; providing for the good of the [Page 25] whole World, ordering every thing after the wisest and best Manner, taking a more particular care of Mankind, con­sulting for our present and future Happi­ness, giving us Laws, disposing of our Fortunes, exercising Discipline over us in order to that great End; and throughout the whole Series of his Providence shew­ing himself to be an Infinite Mind, that is perfectly Wise, Beneficent, Powerful, Merciful, Compassionate, Kind, Righte­ous in all his ways, and holy in all his works, Psalm 145. 17.

This is a particular and true, though an imperfect Description of the Deity. I have been the more critical in drawing it, because it is a very rational Descrip­tion; that which is rationally deduced out of this common Principle, That by God is understood a most perfect Being, and that too which is fairly intelligible by a rational Soul. For every Man under­stands what Knowledge means, what Wisdom means, what Goodness means, what Power, Love, and Righteousness do mean. All these intellectual and mo­ral Perfections are very intelligible. No sooner are they mention'd, but we form a Conception of them in our minds; we apprehend presently what they signify. [Page 26] When they are spoken of a Creature, we easily know what it is to be an under­standing, wise, just, and good Man. And when we discover considerable de­grees and measures of these Perfections in any Person, the apprehension of them doth so affect our minds, that we cannot but Admire, Reverence, Esteem, and Love such a Person for the sake of these Perfections; and how then can it be thought impossible for us to have in our minds a Conception of a Being that is eminently and absolutely Perfect in all intellectual and moral Virtues? Why can­not we know what such a Being means? Nay, rather, how is it possible for us not to adore, venerate, and love such a Be­ing above all things?

I urge this, because some that say in their hearts, There is no God, and are willing to believe there is none, or wish at least there were no Deity, do offer this in favour of their Insidelity, That there is no Idea of God; meaning, that as we have not of that suppos'd transeen­dent Being, any material Representation striking and pressing upon our outward Senses, so neither have we any Concep­tion in our Minds answerable to such a transcendent Being; and hence they [Page 27] sancy that the Notion of a Deity being incomprehensible, there is no such thing; or that those Perfections, which we call the Attributes of God, are no Reali­ties, but honorary Titles bestowed upon an imaginary Being, out of a goundless Fear.

Now in this they are as weak Logicians and Philosophers, as they are bad Di­vines; for they go upon two Principles here, both which are utterly false.

1. The first is, That we have no Evi­dence or Knowledge, no Conception or Thought of any thing which doth not fall under the cognisance of our bodily Senses. For there are many Truths in Philosophy, which can have no corporeal Representati­ons to affect the Eye or the Ear, nor that inward sensitive Part the Fancy, that is common to Men and to Brute-creatures. Though the Clink and Sound of the Words makes an impression upon the Sense; yet the verity of the Propositions which those Words contain, is quite a different thing, that is, purely intelligi­ble; and we know and assent to the Pro­positions with an act of the Understand­ing, by means of the Congruity they bear to Principles of Reason; and there­fore [Page 28] none but rational Creatures can sind out, and apprehend the truth of them. A Beast sees the Colour of Snow, as well as a Man; but no Beast can under­stand the truth of this Proposition, Snow is white; because that is a thing out of its reach, for want of that operation of Reason, which makes all Truth intelligi­ble and evident to the Mind.

There are also innumerable Essences in Nature, which cannot be the Objects of Sense, though the outward Forms and Ideas of them are. The inward Nature of them is discoverable only by the Saga­city and Activity of the Mind, observing their Effects and Operations; then argu­ing from one thing to another, and so judging of the Reality and Nature of the Cause by its Consequents. Hereby the Understanding penetrates into the inside of things, which Sense and Fancy can never do; and it finds out, not what a thing seems to be, but what it is, which is many times a quite different thing from the Fantastry and Appearance of it, nor can ever be the direct and immediate Ob­ject of Sense.

To instance in one particular: We can­not but perceive in some measure, what an admirable Being the Soul of Man is, if [Page 29] we will attentively consider its Powers and Operations. And yet we cannot have any Perception of it by external Sensa­tion, because we cannot hear or see it, or handle it with our Hands, or make any discoveries of it by any other Sense, no more than we can Smell or Taste a shadow. Therefore there can be no sen­sible Images of it to make impressions up­on the Organs of Sensation; no exter­nal Essluvia's of it, no foreign Idea's, no Representations from without to affect the imagination. No, there must be the use of pure Cogitation and Reason, to find out what the Soul is, and to make that intelligible to us which acteth in us; and this will do it, when all our Senses can't. We perceive that there is something in us which thinketh, for every Man is conscious of his own Thoughts; therefore the Soul is a Being. We per­ceive that it works continually in us, therefore it is a real Thing; for it is a certain Principle of Reason, That what is not, cannot possibly work. We per­ceive that there is in the Soul, Life and Vigour, Power and Activity, Apprehen­sion, Knowledge, and Memory, a sacul­ty of comparing things with things, and of reasoning and judging upon such com­parison; [Page 30] a Power too of determining what to do, of chusing and refusing, of desiring that which it loves, and of reaching out after that which it desires; therefore it is a real existing Being. Thus far we can easily go in our Notion of the Soul, without any help of Sensation from abroad. And hence we proceed to per­ceive, That this Soul of ours is an incor­poreal Being. For its Operations are in­congruous to stupid Matter, too quick and noble for Matter, though you suppose it to be in Motion. Clay cannot Cogitate, nor can any moving Wheel reason, nor can the most spirituous Parts of the Blood philosophize, nor can the finest Motes that dance in the Sun consult or deliberate; nor can that glorious and enlivening Creature, the Sun it self, entertain those Meditations which bubble and spring out of ones mind; nor can all the material parts of the World put together, form those Contrivances, Desires, and Affecti­ons, which are the Operations of every Humane Soul; and to suppose, as some Pretenders to Sense and Wit do, that all these Actions proceed from little restless Atoms, capering about in the Head, and falling accidentally into various Forms and Contextures, doth argue rather that [Page 31] the Brains of such Men are insested with Flies and Nits, than that they under­stand any thing of right Reason and Phi­losophy.

I have said this to shew, That there are many things which are not Objects of Sense, and yet are intelligible Objects of the Mind; and therefore that 'tis false reasoning to conclude, That there is no intelligible Notion or Idea of God, be­cause the Divine Nature we call by that Name, is suppos'd to be an Immaterial Being, and as such is not to be represented to our Senses. A pretence, which though used to invalidate the belief of a Deity, might with parity of reason be made use of to disprove the Existence of all the Be­ings in the World, whose true Essences and Natures are not discovered by corporeal, sensible Idea's; especially the Soul of Man, which is no object of external Sensation; and yet by its Operations and Essects, ap­pears to all understanding Men to be a real, cogitative, intellectual, and active Being, distinct from Matter, though it be immured in Matter; and then, why may we not conceive and understand that supereminent Nature, which is sup­pos'd to create every Humane Soul, to be a perfectly wise, righteous, and good [Page 32] Being, realy existing, though we do not see him with the Eye? Especially, since we may see him in some measure at se­cond hand in his glorious Works. For he hath not left himself without witness, in that he doth good, and gives us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness, Acts 14. 17. So that the invisible things of him from the creation are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal Power and Godhead, Rom. 1. 20.

2. Another very false Principle those odd Men go upon, is this, That suppo­sing God to be, as we believe a tran­scendent, infinite Being; and supposing our own intellectual Faculties to be, as we find them, of a finite, narrow Ca­pacity; it is impossible for us to com­prehend God in our minds; and there­fore we must be uncertain, whether the Notions we have of him be true or false, right or wrong. This is in effect to say, That because we have not all know­ledge, therefore we can have none; ac­cording to which rate of reasoning they may affirm also, that we see nothing of the Sun, because we cannot view every [Page 33] single Ray, so as to comprehend its full Lustre; and that, because we under­stand not all the Mysteries in Nature, therefore we are quite ignorant, or at least have reason to doubt, whether those Ideas and Notions we have, do not ut­terly deceive us: whereas in these cases the imperfection of our Knowledge pro­ceeds not from any Dubitableness or De­lusion in the Nature of the Objects, but from the Weakness and Incapacity of our own Faculties. Supposing the Ex­istence of a Deity, that is, a Being tran­scendently Perfect; how is it imagina­ble, that we poor Creatures could pos­sibly have full and adequate Concepti­ons of him, unless we could reconcile Contradictions, by making Narrowness to answer Transcendency, or a Finite Thing to be proportionable and com­mensurate to an Infinite Being? And yet it would not by any means follow hence, that we have no knowledge of God, or that God is an unintelligible Being, because we cannot comprehend all the Glory of his Nature to the full.

We know in part, as we can, and ac­cording to our measure, because in this weak, mortal state, the dulness and in­capacity [Page 34] of our Minds will not allow us to know perfectly; and to argue hence, that the Deity is an unconceivable, and so (at least) a dubitable Being, when our own Conceptions of him, our intel­lectual Powers are naturally and neces­sarily narrow, is as if we should conclude that we have no knowledge at all of any thing in the World; nay, that it is very questionable, whether there be any such thing as a World, because we cannot measure all the dimensions of the Uni­verse with our Span.

Besides, we may know as much as is necessary and sit for us to understand now. For as we are not yet able to see God as he is, so neither would such a full Vision be needful and proper for us, were it possible to be had here. A great deal ought to be reserved for a more per­fect and exalted State, under the notion of a Reward: It is enough to see so much of this Life, as will raise our longings after a better, and will help us to do those Duties of Religion, which are now required in order to a perfect state; and so much we do know, though our knowledge of God be comparative­ly very dim and short. We have such Notions as serve to sound and encourage [Page 35] the practise of Godliness, and good Mo­rality, and that is all we are to mind in this World. We very well apprehend, That God is an Omniscient, Just, Power­ful, Good, and Gracious Being; and these Notions are enough to encourage Men to all manner of Piety and Virtue. Therefore, since the knowledge of these things is the way to Eternal Life, and sufficient to answer the ends and pur­poses of Religion, it is most unreasonable to object against the Idea of God, and to quarrel with it, as a thing unconceivable, because the infinite Vastness of all his glorious Perfections is not to be compre­hended by us fully, especially in this our present imperfect state.

To conclude this Consideration: What­ever some pretend against the Idea of God, I am apt to think, that they who strive and study to reject it, have a great deal of it in their own Minds, stirring and terrifying them with fearful Suggestions. For did they not conceive, that God is privy to their Vices, that he is able to punish them, and in Justice may; it is hardly imaginable, why they should of­fer such violence to their own Reason, as to force it to argue against those No­tions, [Page 36] that by degrees they may oblite­rate them, and argue them utterly away, and so disbelieve the Existence of an Omniscient, Powerful, and Just Being, that seems to them a most frightful Ob­ject. The Idea of God lies very quiet in a good Conscience: nay, to a Man of an honest Heart, and of a pious Life, it is the most comfortable Enjoyment, because it fills his mind with such thoughts as these; That there is a glori­ous Being, who ruleth over all, who observes all our Actions, who takes care of such as live Godly, Righteously, and Soberly in this World; who orders the Affairs of this Life for their good; who will guide them here by his Counsel, and afterwards will receive them into Glory: All which, and the like Notions, are such a comfortable Idea of God, as no Good man would be without for all the World. Therefore, when Men are tempt­ed to deny God's Existence, the Temp­tation must proceed either from a very wrong Opinion of God, as if he were a Cruel, Mischievous, Spiteful, False, and Ill-natur'd Being; or (which is more likely) from a very evil Conscience, which makes God appear to an ill Man a formidable Being, by reason of his [Page 37] Omniscience, Righteousness, and Power. 'Tis probable, that the truest Cause of Atheism, is Vice; there being on all hands such variety of powerful Argu­ments to prove a Deity, as one would think impossible for any, but Men of the most corrupt Minds, to resist the force of them.


2. HAVING thus prepared my way towards the proof of a Deity, by shewing, That by the Deity is meant, a Transcendent Being, that eminently enjoyeth all the Essential, Intellectual, and Moral Perfections, which can possibly belong to a Nature which is most excellent, and absolutely free from the least defect; And by shewing too, how intelligible, rational, and certain this Notion of God's Nature is, I must come now in the next place to make it appear, That there really is such a Divine Nature, or that this most perfect Being doth actually exist.

Now this naturally follows from the common standing Notion of a Deity, which implies all possible Perfection. [Page 38] For Existence is the ground of all Per­fection, the very first thing in the order of our Conceptions; because that cannot be said to be perfect, which is not, or which wants a Being; much less can we suppose a Nature to be absolutely perfect, that is, to be perfectly Wise, Good, and Righteous, unless we suppose the Existence of such a Nature.

But lest an Insidel should say, We make Suppositions of our own, by devi­sing what Notions we please of a God, and then use those Suppositions for Argu­ments, to prove there is a God: There­fore in the prosecution of this Point, I shall shew, That there is in the World a most perfect Nature, which we call God, actually existing, by considering these four things, which shall be the general Heads of this Subject:

  • 1. First, The Necessity of the thing it self.
  • 2. Secondly, The universal Consent of Mankind.
  • 3. Thirdly, Those extraordinary Oc­currences which must argue the Be­ing of a Deity.
  • 4. And, Fourthly, The admirable State of the World.

[Page 39]1. First then, If we go through the whole Series and Order of Nature, from Effects to Causes, and from one Cause onward to another, we must of neces­sity come at last to one first Cause, to a Being that doth necessarily exist of it self, and consequently is a distinct, in­dependent, and most perfect Being.

Here we must take notice of an uni­versal Trth, which will very much help to guide our Reason, viz. That what­ever once had not any real Being, could not be the cause of it self; for upon that impossible Supposition, it would have existed, and yet not existed at the same time. It would not have existed, because it is supposed to have wanted a Cause for its Production; and it would have existed, because it is supposed to have exercised causality; which two things being contradictory to each other, it must be granted, that whatever once came out of a State of Non-existence, was brought out of it by another distinct Agent which existed antecedently, and had actual Power over it. Hence it fol­lows, That all the Effects which are now in Nature, and once were not, do owe their Origination to Causes which [Page 40] were before them (for those things which had no being, could not in a state of nothingness Act, much less could they act upon themselves); and how many soever the Foreign Causes of them were, they all lead us up to a Permanent, first Cause, which depended on no other, nor stood in need of another for its be­ing. Now we see, that there are innu­merable things in the World, which once were not; and the immediate Causes of these were themselves the Effects of other Agents; and they again of others, and so on, till we gradually ascend to one Chief Cause, which was the Origi­nal of them all. To omit all other things at present, I instance in these two sorts of Effects we see daily; the Motion of Bodies; and the Production of Living Creatures, especially of Mankind. First, For the Motion of Bodies.

The principal Parts of the World are never idle. In the Earth there are a­ctive Principles of Life and Vegetation, which prepare the vital Juice that is in all Plants and Trees. In Animals there is Concoction, Digestion, and a Motion, or Fluor of the Chyle, which serves for Nutrition. In the Sea there is a Flux and Reflux, and a Current in Rivers and [Page 41] Springs. In the Air there are Vicissi­tudes and Turnings, as Exhalations and Vapours steam out of the Earth, and return to it again modified into various Forms. And the constant circular Courses of those glorious Bodies in the Firma­ment, shew likewise, that in this visi­sible World there is no Rest. Now all these Motions of material Substances must depend upon Causes; for Matter alone is a liveless, unactive, stupid Thing, which can no more move it self, than Mountains and Rocks can walk; and whatever those Causes be, whether proximate or remote, they must depend for their Operations upon the Energy of one supreme Cause, that impower'd Nature, and set the whole Frame of it on work, and gave it, as we may say, the first Stroke; for otherwise, Motion, which once was not in being, would have been the Cause of it self, which is utterly impossible.

The like may be said of the Producti­on of Living Creatures, and particular­ly of Mankind. Once we were not, therefore you and I, and all of us had a beginning, as we shall have an end; and though we should run up our Ge­nerations so far, as to date our Breed [Page 42] from an hundred thousand Years ago, yet must we of necessity derive it at last from some Ancestors, who were not begotten of others, as we have been, but were made after a different manner by an Omnipotent Cause, which could give them a beginning; for otherwise we must either run up on to Eternity, or suppose our first Parents to have made themselves, which is repugnant to the universal Truth I demonstrated before, and would imply, that those our first Pa­rents had a Being, and no Being at the same instant.

This Argument so strongly proves the necessary Existence of a first Cause, or a Deity, to form the whole Frame of Nature, and to set it in order, that some unreasonable Men find themselves constrained to tell us, that the World ever was, as it is now; the same from all Eternity, without any Rise, Novi­ty, or Beginning; and so without any dependence on a first Cause, or need of it.

They were as good say plainly, That they are resolved never to be convinced, but will rid themselves of all belief of a Deity at any rate, though they destroy the Principles of Common Reason, and [Page 43] run into the most fulsome Absurdities and Contradictions. For how can it con­sist with reason to take a boundless Pro­gress from one Effect to another, still on­ward up to Retro­infinity, without stop­ping at any beginning? This conceit be­ing admitted, these monstrous Absurdities must follow:

1. First, It implies the local Motion of Bodies to have produced it self, without the efficiency of a first Mover, which is impossible, because Motion is neither essen­tial to Matter, (for then no body could ever rest) nor is it incident to Matter as such, but by its being touched by some moving Principle that is distinct from it. It is a Passion imprest upon Matter by an Agent, by virtue whereof it changeth place and distance; and therefore it pre­supposeth Action from something else; otherwise it must be its own Creature and Maker too, the Effect and Cause of it self at the same time, and out of nothing, which is a Contradicton. So that though you go through the vast­est Series of moving Bodies, from the things below to the Heavens above, you must come at last to a first Mover of all things, or conclude against all [Page 44] Sense and Reason, that there are innume­rable Effects without any Original Essicien­cy. Suppose when the World was made, it had presently had some great Jog given it; 'twere hard to conceive, that the Motion of its several Parts should not have spent it self in a little time, without a conserving Power pervading through all: But it confounds Humane Under­standing to think, how there could be Motion all along from all past Eternity, and without any beginning, no superior Power moving or acting upon Bodies; because it is impossible for Matter to be self-active, though you should sup­pose it to have been Eternal. It could no more move than it could make it self; for upon that principle Men must return to that great Absurdity and Contradicti­on, touching a thing being its own Cause; that is, touching its being and not being at the same time.

2. Secondly, To suppose the whole World to have been Eternal, would ren­der the Generation of Mankind altoge­ther impossible. For every ones Forma­tion and Birth is absolved in the space of so many Months; and so it must of necessity include, not only a Period, but a Beginning too; both which are incon­sistent [Page 45] with the Notion of Eternity; for if Humane Race was always begotten, carry it as high as you please, you must come to a moment when Generation did begin.

3. If it be said, Thirdly, That Men were not from all Eternity generated, as they are now, but that some were created or made from everlasting, and thence others were produced in the or­dinary common way; this contradicteth it self, for it necessarily infers a Creator or Maker; and by consequence it implies a first Man, and a first Cause, and a time when our first Ancestors began; whereas there is neither first nor last in Successions which are Eternal; so that were our Ancestors Eternal, it must be said plainly, we had no first Parents at all.

4. And then, Fourthly, What can be more absurd than to conceive, that every particular Man should have (as we see every Man hath) a Father and a Mo­ther, and yet that all Mankind should have none?

5. Fifthly, Or if every Man's Parents were infinite; then it must be said, That there are as many Infinites as there are and have been particular Men in the [Page 46] World, which is such another great Ab­surdity as the former.

6. Sixthly, To conclude this Argumen­tation; To affirm the World to have been Eternal, is to destroy the Notion of In­finity, and to entangle ones self in the greatest Nonsense. For, (to give you the Words of a most Learned and Judi­cious Writer) ‘If the World be Eternal,Bishop Stil­lingsleet's Orig. Sac. p. 376. there must have been past an infinite Succession of Ages; an insinite number of Successions are already past; and if past, then at an end; and so we find an Infinite which hath an end, which is a consequence becoming one who avoids the belief of a Deity, because Infinity is an unconceivable thing. Be­sides, if the number of Generations hath been Insinite, these two conse­quences will unavoidably follow, which the Reason of any one but an Atheist would startle at; That one Infinite may be greater than another; and that the part is equal to the whole. For let him six where he please in the Course of Generations, I demand, whether in the great Grand-father's time the Succession of Generations was Finite or Infinite? If Finite, then it had a be­ginning, and so the World not Eter­nal. [Page 47] If Infinite, then I ask, Whether there were not a longer Succession of Generations in the time of his great Grand-children; and so there must be a number greater than that which was Infinite; for the former Succession was Infinite, and this hath more Genera­tions in it than that had; but if it be said, That they were equal because both Insinite; Then the Succession of Gene­rations to the Grandfather, being but a part of that which extends to his Grand-children and Posterity, the part is equal to the whole.’

This surely is enough to shew, That according to common Reason the World once was not, but that it must have had a beginning; and consequently, that there was a first Cause of it; nay, that the Existence of an higher Being was necessary to make it, because what­ever once was not, could not be self­originated; all that now Moves or Lives in the World could not produce or make it self, but was brought into being by a most perfect Nature that was before it, and superior to it, that is, by a Deity, and by nothing less than a Deity, for these five Reasons.

[Page 48]1. First, It was impossible for all Be­ings to be made; for that would suppose that once there was nothing at all; and then 'tis confest on all hands, that no­thing could have been produced. There­fore as it was necessary for the first Cause to be independent on any other, (for else it could not have been the first) so it was necessary for that Cause to be unproduced, by reason of the absolute Perfection, and intrinsick plenitude of its own Essence, so that it needed no hand from without to give it any thing.

2. Secondly, The first Cause having its being by necessity of Nature, it was im­possible for it to have any beginning. For, had it had a beginning like other things, it must have taken it from some other Principle, because whatever once want­ed Origination, could not give it to it self; and consequently the Existence of the first Cause must have been contingent and precarious, which would have de­stroyed the great Prerogative of its inde­pendence.

3. Thirdly, Considering that the se­veral parts of the World were to take their Original out of a State of Non-existence, it [Page 49] was impossible for the first Cause to have a Power limited and restrained by any thing without it. For as nothing could hinder it from being, by reason of its own necessary Existence; so nothing could hinder it from acting, by reason of its absolute Independence; and consequent­ly, the First Cause had necessarily a Power of creating things out of nothing; be­cause if any preexistent Matter had been requisite for it to work on, it must have depended upon Matter, and been behold­ing to Matter for permitting it to act.

4. Fourthly, The Power of creating things being so necessarily great, it was impossible for the First Cause to be made up of Matter: For all Matter, as such, is an unactive, stupid, dead thing, utterly uncapable of producing either it self, or any other Being, much less could it act with that wonderful Faecundity, Coun­sel, Wisdom, and Benignity of Mind, which the whole frame of Nature argues to be in the First Cause; as shall be show'd in its due place.

5. Fifthly, It was impossible also for the First Cause of all things to be locally extended, or to be circumscribed, limited, determined, and confined to Place, as Matter or Body is. For being to raise up [Page 50] a vast Universe, it was necessary for that most powerful Nature to be undividedly present to every part of the world which it acted upon; and for the Management and Conservation of the Universe, to con­tain it all within the Immensity of its own Essence: Which Essence was necessarily boundless and unlimited, because it was not possible to be produced by any other Being that could restrain, define, or bound its Immensity. For (as an excellent Wri­terDr. Scot's Christian Life, part 2. vol. 1. p. 193. well observes and argues) that which limits Beings, is only the Will or Power of their Causes, which either would not, or could not bestow any further Being or Perfection upon them; and there­fore only such things as have a Cause, are limited, because they being produ­ced out of nothing, are only so far and no farther brought into Being, as their Cause was willing or able to bring them. That therefore which exists of its self without any Cause of its Being, must al­so exist of it self without any Limits of its Being, by reason that it was neither limited by it self, nor by any other Cause; and that which hath nothing to limit it, must necessarily be immense and bound­less. God therefore being this self-existent Being, must necessarily be of an unlimited [Page 51] Essence, an Essence which no possible Space can either circumscribe or define, but must necessarily be diffused all through, circumfused all about, and pre­sent with all things.

The Existence then of such a perfect transcendent Being as hath been described, was absolutely necessary in order to the production and formation of the world. And hence we rationally assirm, That be­fore ever the Earth and the Heavens were made, there was an Intellectual Nature that was to be the Cause of the whole World; and that this Nature or First Being was and is Self-originated, Eternal, Omnipotent, Incorporeal, and Infinite. In using which expressions we speak like men, as we are able, according to our Capacities, and as the narrowness of our Faculties, compared with the tran­scendency of the Object will allow us. Our meaning more at large is this: Con­sidering that all the parts of the world were made by an Essicient Cause, and that nothing could bring it self out of Non-existence into Being, by reason that nothing could be before it self, we must necessarily acknowledge, That there is a First Cause of all things, and that this First Cause was not made or produc'd by [Page 52] any other: Which First Cause being alto­gether Independent, existed by the abso­lute Necessity of its Nature, by its own Perfection, Permanency, and Fulness; and consequently, was Eternal, or of In­finite Duration; because being unprodu­ced, it could not but be without any be­ginning. And this Self-Existence includes Self-Activity, suitable to the Perfections of an Eternal Nature; that is, a Power of producing and effecting whatever is possible in the Nature of the thing, and doth not imply a Contradiction. For all Impotence or Inability to operate, is utter­ly inconsistent with the Perfections of a First Cause, from which is derived all the Power that is in Second Causes. Whence it follows, That the First Cause could not be Matter (a thing which of it self cannot live or move) but a Spirit, void of all Corporeal Substance; an Eternal Mind, able perfectly to exert and display its Power, as it becometh an Intellectual, Wise, and Voluntary Agent. And lastly, This Incorporeity renders the First Cause uncapable of beind divisible, or determi­nable to Place, after the manner of Bo­dies, which consist of Magnitude and Dimensions: And therefore how incom­prehensible soever the Notion of Infinity [Page 53] may seem to us, whose outward Senses are used only to things corporeal, Reason will oblige us to think, that every Being must be extended or unextended, limit­ed or unlimited, circumscrib'd or diffu­sed, according as its Essence and Nature is; and that the first Cause being incor­poreal, and having once an Immense World to make, and ever since an Im­mense World to act upon and in, can­not be confined to place, but must be every where, and undividedly, in a man­ner agreeable to the Plenitude of its Na­ture.

Now this Account of the necessary Existence and Condition of a first Cause, is so far a plain description of the Deity, or of God. And it is for the greatest reasons that we maintain, that in order to the Production and Framing of this huge Universe, the Existence of God was necessary, that is, the Existence of an In­dependent, Self-existent, Eternal, All-powerful, Immaterial, and Infinite Be­ing. These are not bare Epithets of Ho­nour, bestowed (as some strange Men conceive) upon an imaginary some­thing, which the fancies and fears of People have without reason represented to their Minds; but real, solid, severe, [Page 54] and demonstrable Truths; so that admit­ing the common and most rational Prin­ciple touching the necessity of a First Cause, those glorious Perfections I have now mentioned, must necessarily belong to it; and because those Perfections are essential and peculiar to that Glorious Being we call God; therefore God, and God alone must be acknowledged the First Cause of all things; and by natural consequence, the Existence of God must necessarily be believed.


HAVING proved the Truth and Reality of God's being, from the necessary Existence of a first Independent Cause. I proceed now to the second Ge­neral Head of this Discourse, touching the Consent of all Mankind; for if it can be made appear, That the belief of a Deity hath been universally received in the World, 'tis reasonable to con­clude, that that belief resulted from a common Principle of Nature, which could not deceive the Minds of all Man­kind.

[Page 55]Here then these two things are to be shew'd:

  • 1. First, That Men have universally agreed in this, That there is a God.
  • 2. Secondly, That this universal Agree­ment is a very strong Argument of God's Existence.

1. First, That Men have universally agreed in this, That there is a God. That noble Orator and Philosopher, Cicero, doth in several places acknowledge, That all manner of People were naturally pos­fest with some Anticipations (or Pre­conceptions)De Nit-Deor. lib. 1. Tuse: Qu. lib. 1. de Leg. lib. 1. of a Deity, so that no Nati­on was ever so wild and undisciplin'd, but that they had a fear of God, and owned his Being, however they were mistaken as to the quality of his Nature. To the same purpose Seneca tells, That the be­liefEp. 117. of a God is planted in every ones mind. And Maximus Tyrius is positive,Diss. 1. That how great soever the Contenti­ons of Men were about other Points, they all agreed in this, that there is one Supreme God over all. Nay, Epicurus Cic. de Nat. deor. lib. 1. himself (of whom this Character is gi­ven, that in words he owned the Exi­stence of God, but in fact denied it) [Page 56] was contented the belief of it should pass abroad, because it was a kind of innate Principle, not only among Philosophers, but among the Unlearned too, who all had some Pri-notion of a Deity.

So true is this, That not only the real Existence, but even the Singularity and Unity of a Supreme God, hath been ge­nerally believed by Heathens themselves; especially by the wiser fort of them; which I think very material for me to take notice of here, for the further Illu­stration and Confirmation of the Matter in hand.

Indeed the Heathens have been wont to worship a Plurality of Deities. But withal it is very observable, that they look'd upon those many Deities, as a fort of middle Beings between Mon and the Supreme Deity; and accordingly in their Devotions they addressed them­selves to them, as Agents and Officers under the Great God, as his Ministers of State, and as Mediators between them and the most high Sovereign Numen, be­cause they thought it irreligious Confi­dence to apply themselves to him imme­diately, and directly; such a venerable and august Opinion they had of the God over all.

[Page 57]Though in the Poetical, Fabulous Ages of the World, ignorant People were taught to worship a multitude of gods; as the Souls of dead Men, whom they believed to be Deified; the Sun, Moon, and Stars, which were suppos'd to be animated with Deities; besides, a great number of Daemons, or incorpo­real Substances, or Spirits, which they thought were generated, and had the Administration and Government of the World committed to them; yet they owned One Sovereign Numen, One In­comprehensible, Self-existent Being, the Prince and Father of all. Nay, the more intelligent sort of Pagans anciently thought, that the Plurality of Deities which the Vulgar worshipped, were on­ly so many several Names of one and the same Supreme God, according to the several Manifestations of his Power. In the Heavens (saith St. Austin) they calledDe Civit. 1. 4. c. 11. him Jupiter; in the Air, Juno; in the Sea, Neptune; in the Earth, Pluto; and very many more Appellations there were; which though the sottish Rabble believed to have been proper Names for distinct Deities, yet the Philosophers thought they did all belong to one Supreme Nu­men variously acting and displaying his [Page 58] Virtue. And with this agrees that ofDe Benef. l. 4. c. 7. Seneca; What else is Nature (saith he) but God; or Divine Wisdom and Power displaying it self in the whole world, and in all the parts of it? You may, when you please, give several Titles to the Author of all things: And you may call him Ju­piter Optimus Maximus, and Tonans, and Stator, not from stopping the Roman Ar­my in their flight, but because all things do stand (or consist) by him. You may well apply to him what Names you will, that signify his Heavenly Power and Efficacy: There may be as many Appellations, as there are Gifts, or Effects of God. Besides Jupiter, To­nans, and Stator, we call him Liber Pa­ter, Hercules, and Mercurius. Liber Pa­ter, because he hath produced all things: Hercules, because his Power is invinci­ble; and Mercury, by reason of his Wis­dom. Turn you which way you please, God meets you; for nothing is without him: He filleth all his Works (so that his various Names were according to the various Manifestations of him). Should you receive a kindness from Seneca, and say you owed it to Annaeus, or Lucius, you would not change the Person, but his Name; for what Name soever you [Page 59] call him by, you mean still the same man. And so you may call the Deity too, Nature, Fate, and Fortune; but all these are the Names of one and the same God, diversly using and shewing his Power.

Hence it appears, That in times of the greatest Ignorance, Heathens them­selves did not only profess the belief of a Deity, but did own also the Existence of One Sovereign Being over all. Though they talkt of Gods many, and of God­desses many, and a multitude of Deities was believ'd and worshipp'd by the Com­mon People; yet the Wise men among them lookt upon this great appearance and shew of distinct Deities, to have been different Names of One Supreme God; various Representations, Chara­cters and Titles of One Eternal and In­comprehensible Nature pervading through the whole world, and variously acting, exhibiting, and manifesting its Divine Power in it every where.

In the Primitive Ages of Christianity, the Controversy between the Christians and Pagans was not about the Being of One Supreme God (for all on each hand were agreed as to that) but about the Divinity of Jesus Christ, and about many [Page 60] Inferior Powers which the Heathens wor­shipp'd besides the great Creator himself, God blessed for evermore. 'Tis plain from Acts 17. 23, 24. that in St. Paul's time the Athenians not only own'd the Existence, but adored the Majesty of the True God; For, saith the Apostle, whom ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you; and that was no other, but the God who made the world, and all things in it; called by the Athenians, the unknown God, because his Nature cannot be com­prehended or seen by men. In the fol­lowing times of Christiany, the great Doctors of the Church, who defended our Religion against Heathenism, do tell us over and over, That the Pagans ac­knowledged a Supreme God, as well as Christians. The Dispute between them was concerning Fictitious Deities suppos'd to be subordinate to the Supreme. For the Pagans Faith was, that many Gods were derived from One; that to those Inferiour Spirits the care and govern­ment of the Universe was committed; and that Divine Honours ought to be gi­ven them, as the Officers of God, and as Mediators between God and Men. Ne­vertheless, among their many Deities, and over all their many Deities, they [Page 61] acknowledg'd One Supreme. They cal­led him the First, the Greatest, the Un­made, the Supercoelestial God, the Chief, the King of all. They believed that all things were from him; that he was the Maker especially of Immortal Beings; that he is Incomprehensible, Good, the common Father of all, wanting nothing, and without all manner of Envy; that he is a Self-existent Principle, the Foun­tain of all Good, the Conserver of all things living, the Lord of the Universe, the Universal Reason and Mind, the Uni­form Cause of all things, the Original of all Pulchritude and Perfection, of all Unity and Power; the Great and Mag­nificent Father of Nature, whose Vir­tues are diffused throughout the whole World. Julian, that great Zealot forCyril. l. 2. Heathenism, confest, that there is a na­tural knowledge of God in mens minds, from whence that common Inclination towards a Deity springs, and that Per­suasion among all men, that He who is the King over all, hath his Throne in Heaven. Accordingly, Julian, and the rest of the Learned Heathens, honoured the God of Heaven with the greatest ve­neration that was possible for men of their Principles. Though they gave [Page 62] their other Deities divine honours, yet it was an inferior sort of worship; and that they paid too for the Supreme God's sake, and in honour to him, be­lieving that the Great God was pleas'd with it, because it was given upon his account to other things, as the Ministers, Images, and Representatives of the Invi­sibleOrig. cont. Celsus, p. 421, & 419. Deity. If (saith Celsus, that Bi­gotted Defender of Paganism) a man be required to praise the Sun, or Minerva, he may sing Hymns chearfully; for by singing Hymns to these, he will the bet­ter worship the Great God; because that Divine Worship is the most perfect, which passes through all. However, saith he, God is by no means at any time to be forsaken, or left out; nei­ther by day, nor by night; neither in private, nor in publick; neither in any of our Thoughts, nor in any of our Actions, but in every thing our minds should be still directed towards God, and intent upon him. And again; all Tor­ments are rather to be endured, and any Deaths are rather to be undergone, than we should either speak an irreligious thing of God, or admit into our minds an irreligious Thought of him.

[Page 63]Before I pass from this Consideration, touching the Pagans Belief of the Ex­istence of God, in the Primitive Times of Christianity, as in the Ages before; I cannot but observe, by way of digres­sion, that notwithstanding this their hearty Belief, and Religious Worship of One Supreme Deity, the True God, that made all things, these Pagans were Idola­ters, and were still counted by the Chri­stian Church guilty of Idolatry: Not be­cause they worshipped Creatures, laying the Creator aside (for 'tis plain, that they owned and adored the same Great God that we Christians worship); but because they served the creature, [...], as St. Paul speaks, Rom. 1. 25. that is, besides the Creator. They gave Di­vine Honours to him, and to other Be­ings too; they worshipt them as well as the Great God; they made them Partners and Sharers with the Great God in their Religious Services; and though this wor­shipping of other Beings was for the Great God's sake, though it was a lower kind of Worship, and though all the Services of the Heathens (especially the wiser sort of them) were directed to the Great God, did refer to the Great God, and did terminate in him; [Page 64] yet were they downright Idolaters. And as this shews the true Notion and Na­ture of Idolatry, that it is the Religious Worshipping of any thing besides God: So it shews how impossible it is for those Christians, who adore Saints and Angels, as well as the True God, and the True Messiah, to clear themselves of the Charge of Idolatry, notwithstanding all their nice distinctions of Dulia, Latria, Relative Worship, and the like. All this the Heathens might have said for their Excuse. They gave the Supreme God the highest Honours; and in Ho­nour to him they worshipp'd inferior Dei­ties, as the Romanists do Saints and An­gels: in which respect their practice is a plain, but shameful Counter-part of old Heathenism; so that were there no such thing in the Church of Rome as Image-worship, I cannot see but this Creature-worship would be enough to make them guilty of Idolatry. Either this practice is Idolatrous, or that of the Heathens was not such, which yet they of the Church of Rome dare not affirm.

But to return to the Matter in hand. If from those elder times of Heathenism we come down now to modern Ages, [Page 65] though we search into the darkest and remotest Corners of the World, we can­not find any one Nation or People so barbarous, so sunk into a State of Igno­rance and Stupidity, as not to have be­lieved the Existence of God, even in their Idolatrous Gentile Condition. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handy work, There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their sound is gone out into all lands, and their words unto the ends of the world, Psalm 19. 1, 3, 4. Where David represents those glo­rious Creatures as proclaiming, and all Nations as hearing them proclaim the Transcendent Wisdom, Power, Good­ness, and Majesty of their Maker and Conserver. All People, how ignorant soever they have been of other Lan­guages, have understood this. However they have differed from one another in their Polity, Laws, Customs, or Man­ner of Life, have unanimously consent­ed in this, That there is a God. And though many have lived, as if they were without God in the World, yet none have been without him in their Consci­ences.

[Page 66]Here falls in an Account which hath been given us, by a most Inquisitive and Learned Writer of our Church; and which, both for the Usefulness and Cu­riosity of it, well deserves to be taken notice of in this place. That Great ManBishop Stil­lingfleet's Defence of his Dis­course con­cerning I­dolatry. undertaking to prove, That men may be guilty of Idolatry, though they believe and worship the True God, shews par­ticularly, That the grossest Idolaters of later times, both in the East and West Parts of the World, have acknowledg­ed one Sovereign Being over all those inferior Deities they worshipp'd; that they gave him the highest Honours; and that that they called him in their re­spective Languages by some peculiar Name, which signified the greatest Ex­cellency.

First, he shews of the Idolaters of the East-Indies, That they all believed there was but One God who made the World, and reigns in Heaven; and that they worshipp'd this One God, as well as Chri­stians, and referred all the Honour to him, which they gave to other things; that some called the Supreme God Para­brama, which in their Language signi­fies, absolutely Perfect, being the Foun­tain of all things, existing from himself, [Page 67] and free from all Composition; that others call'd that Sovereign Being Achar, that is, Immutable; others, Tento, belie­ving him to be the Governor of the World; others Sciaxeti, or Scianti, which signifies the Supreme Monarch; and Ti­enciu, which is as much as to say, The Lord of Heaven.

Then the Learned Author gives this Account of the Idolatrous Tartars, That they believed and worshipp'd One God, owning him to be the Maker of all things visible and invisible, and to be the Author of all worldly Good and Punish­ment.

Of the Inhavitants of Madagascar, he shews, That they believed One God, who made Heaven and Earth, and will one day punish the bad, and reward the good Actions of men.

Of the People of Monomotapa, That they acknowledge One God, whom they call Mozimo, and are said to worship no­thing else besides him.

Of the Idolatrous Muscovites, That they worshipp'd only the Creator of the Universe, to whom they offer'd the first Fruits of all things, even their Meat and Drink.

[Page 68]Of the Idolaters of Cranganor, That they worshipp'd the God of Heaven, cal­ling him Tambram, and believing him to have made the World.

Of the Northern Idolaters, especially the Goths, he shews, That the most an­cient of their gods was called by them Alfader, that is, the Father of all; they believ'd that this God lives for ever; that he governs all things; that he made the Heavens, and Earth, and Air, and all Things in them; and which is the greatest of all, that he made Man, and gave him a Soul that should live for ever, although the Body be destroyed; and that those who are good shall be with him.

Touching the Idolaters in Asrick, that Excellent Writer shews, That they wor­shipped God under the Name of Guighi­mo, that is, The Lord of Heaven; and that though the Negroes adored many gods, yet they acknowledged One Su­preme, whom they called Ferisso, and believed him to be the Author of the Good and Evil they received.

As for the account he gives out of Josephus Acosta, and Garcilasso de la Vega, touching the Idolaters in America before their Conversion to Christianity, I have [Page 69] reserved it to the last, because it seems so clear and full, that it is the fittest Ob­servation to conclude this Point. The surn of it is, That those Idolatrous In­dians acknowledged a Supreme Lord and Author of all things, whom they of Peru called Pachacamac, that is, the Soul of the World, the true Sovereign Crea­tor of the Sovereign Crea­tor of the World; and Usapu, which is Admirable; and such like; and though they had a great Veneration for the Sun and Moon, and other things, yet they held and adored Pachamac as the chief­est of all, and whenever they mentioned his Name, did it with all the Reverence and Devotion imaginable, in Honour to the unexpressible Majesty of God. And hence was that Observation of the Spanish Jesuit, Acosta, That those who at that time did Preach the Gospel to the Indians, found no great difficulty to perswade them that there is a High God and Lord over all, and that this was the Christians God, and the True God. This (saith he) is a truth conformable to Reason, That there is a Sovereign Lord and King of Heaven, and him the Gentiles, with all their Infidelities and Idolatries have not denied; so that the Preachers of the Gospel had no great [Page 70] difficulty to plant and perswade this Truth of the Supreme God, though the Nations to whom they preached were never so Barbarous and Brutish. The hard thing was to root out of their minds this Perswasion, That there is no other God, nor any other Deity than one; and that all other things of them­selves have no Power, Being, nor work­ing proper to themselves, but what the Great and only Lord doth give and impart to them. However People have been mistaken in their belief of a multi­plicity of Deitics, this hath been a com­mon Notion in all barbarous Countries, that there is One Supreme God infinitely Good.

I think no more need be said, to shew the universal Perswasion of Man­kind concerning God's Existence. How­ever, before I proceed to Argue and Reason from it, and to prove the Truth of God's Existence from this universal Perswasion, it will be necessary to take notice of two Pretences, which are com­monly used to evade the force of this Ar­gument.

1. The first is, That some whole Na­tions have been found, which have been [Page 71] without all Sense of God; as was report­ed particularly of some People in Ame­rica, after the discovery of them by Chri­stians. To this there are three things in answer.

First, That the matter alledged is not evident or certain, because the Men who first related it, were Strangers to the Language and Customs of those People, and therefore could not be competent Judges of their Principles. Nay, they were abhorred as Enemies, and conse­quently were uncapable of understand­ing the Mysteries of those Peoples Re­ligion; a thing, which Men are gene­rally very shy of discovering, especially to those who use them hardly.

Secondly, It is so far from being cer­tain, that in probability 'tis not true: For though upon the first discovery of those Nations, some of them were suspected of Atheism, yet a different Account was given afterwards upon further enquiries; nay, the most Ignorant and Savage People among them did worship some things after a Religious sort; however they were mistaken in their Notions of God's Nature, and as to the manner of his Worship; a plain Sign that they thought that there was a Superior Be­ing [Page 72] to be worshipped, and that it was better to Worship almost any thing for a Deity, than not to own any Deity at all.

Thirdly, Were the Report true and un­questionable, all that can be gathered hence, is, that 'tis possible for some Men to be so besotted, and govern'd by out­ward Sense, as to lose in a manner that which is proper to Humane Nature, Reason and Religion, and to fall into a Belluine kind of Life. But this is no Argument against the common Princi­ples of all the rest of Mankind, who have hearkned to the Voice of Nature, and to their own Consciences; nor is it reasonable, that one particular Excepti­on should prevail against a general Rule. If in the Universe there be now and then a little Irregularity, it cannot ar­gue that Nature is not steddy and uni­form. And so, if among Mankind there chance to be here or there some brutish People, it cannot argue, that the gene­rality of Men have no Reason, or that what is agreeable to common Reason, is false. That there is a God, is a Princi­ple agreed upon by the generality of Mankind; and if some odd Folks of lost understanding have no such Notion, Of [Page 73] what weight is this, that it should bear down the common Sentiment of Man­kind? After this rate it may be said, That there is no right Reason in the World, nor any Credit or Authority to be given to Reason, because there are in the World Beasts and Naturals.

2. But to take off this Answer, it is pretended, Secondly, That Philosophers and Men of Reason have been against the belief of God's Existence, as Theo­dorus, Bion, Leucippus, Democritus, Pro­tagorus, Diagoras, Epicurus, and the like. Now as to this, these four things are to be said.

First, That we scarcely find the Names of twelve Atheists expresly mention'd in History since the Creation; setting aside some in these later Ages, who would have been thought wiser than all the World besides. In all the Scripture we read not of one by Name; and though the Psalmist speaks indefinitely of a Fool in his time, That said in his heart, There is no God, Psalm 14. 1. yet by his Chara­cter you see what he was counted; and as great a Fool as he was he would not speak out, nor affirm it positively, but said it in his heart; so that it was rather his Wish than Opinion.

[Page 74] Secondly, Of those we read of in Hu­mane Writers, some were called Atheists merely because they despised the Rab­ble of Deities, and the unreasonable Superstitions, which the generality of Gentiles had in great admiration. Such was the humour of people in those times, that they stigmatiz'd all who op­pos'd their follies with that infamous Character: An humour which held on to the times of the Gospel, when the most Religious Disciples of Christ were charged with Atheism for the same rea­son; because they were Enemies too (though upon far better grounds) to the Faith and Worship of the Pagan Deities: So that upon a strict compu­tation, I think, the notorious Atheists in those dark Ages were not in all above Seven.

And of those it is observable, Thirdly, That not so much as one could be a tolerable Judge of matters relating to Religion. For some of them were infa­mous for Vice and Immoralities; and therefore in favour to their Lusts did think themselves concern'd to destroy the belief of God's Existence. Others were men of so little Sense, that every Modern Insidel has just reason to be [Page 75] alham'd of them: For Protagoras was a Porter, and Diagoras a Slave; both of them were angry at Providence for not having dispos'd of them better in the World; and so were easily bribed and hired by Democritus to make up a small paltry Litter. And of all of them it is remark'd, that they were bloated up with Pride, Arrogance, and Ambition, whereby they affected to be singular, and to signalize themselves as the most knowing Sages in the World, by reject­ing Notions which were the common received Principles among all Man­kind.

And yet, Fourthly, What those few Upstarts did, they did by straining and forcing their own Consciences. There is a Power in Conscience which can­not be utterly fubdued, especially when not only the Honour, but the very Be­ing of God is concern'd, whose Deputy it is. Then Conscience will throb and possess the most Irreligious men with such Fears as argue the Existence of God, whatever Arguments they endea­vour to raise against him. They lye (saith Seneca) who profess an unbelief of God: For though they maintain it before you in the Day-time, yet at [Page 76] Night they themselves call their Infidelity in question. Company, Business, or Diver­sion, may banish their Fears for a while; but those Fears return in the dark from under the Pillow, when Consci­ence comes to have private Audience. And to this purpose Colla in Cicero tells us of Epicurus himself (whose DoctrinesDe Nat. Dcor. lib 1. were designed to destroy the apprehen­sions of a Deity), That he never saw any man more afraid than that Philo­sopher was of those things which he said were not to be dreaded; that is, Death, and God: A clear Argument, That whatever he pretended and taught to the contrary, his Conscience told him there was a Righteous Judge of all the Earth.

The sum is; The belief of God's Ex­istence hath been the general belief of all Ages and Countries; and for that very reason Epicurus himself was willingIbid. it should pass on still. 'Twas observed before of that Conceited Man, That though in fact, and in the natural con­sequence of his Principles he denied God, yet for fear of the severe Laws and People of Athens, in words he own'd a Deity; and that for this considera­tion, because Nature it self had im­printed [Page 77] on all mens minds a notion of God; as his Disciple Villeius in Ci­cero said of him. For, said he, what Nation, or sort of men is there, which have not, without Learning, some anti­cipation of a Deity, which Epicurus called a Prolepsis, or Pre-notion? And since that Opinion is not grounded up­on any Institution, Custom, or Law, and yet continues the firm, unshaken belief of all men, therefore people ought to profess the belief of a Deity.

And now what is the singular Imagi­nation of a few vain, wanton Wretches, to the settled Persuasion of all the World besides? Must all men be de­ceived in their notions of God, be­cause Democritus and Epicurus would not seem to own them? There are sometimes Monstrosities in Nature; and so there are too often in Opinion; nor is any thing so absurd and monstrous, but it has been disputed for; at least, may be disputed for by men of parts; and doth it hence follow that the con­trary Principles are not true? One Philosoper maintain'd, that there is no such thing as Motion; another would have persuaded people that Snow is black; and some stood in it, that the [Page 78] same thing may be, and may not be at the same time, and in the same re­spect; that is, that both parts of a Contradiction can be true; and shall such odd Whimseys prevail against the common Sense and Reason of Mankind? Some never saw the light in all their lives; and doth this argue that there is no real Sun? or, that That is no Sun which the whole World beholds? Why, a man of unprejudiced and impartial Reason may with his mind as easily see God in his Works, as I can see the day with my eyes. But should I so af­fect singularity as to shut my eyes, and then pretend that all the World is a dismal, dark, confused Chaos; could it be concluded hence, that there is not one Star in the Firmament? why, 'tis as senseless to conclude that there is no God, and that Mankind have been all along mistaken in their belief of God, because two or three Impious Philoso­phers have shut the eyes of their Un­derstanding against him. This indeed is an argument against themselves; a proof of their own folly, stupidity, and wickedness: But 'tis no argument a­gainst all other men, who have no mind to be so stupid and irreligious as [Page 79] they were: 'Tis far from being a proof, that there is no Existing Deity, as the generality of men have been in all times and places unanimously and throughly persuaded.

2. Nay, that I may proceed to the Second thing I proposed under this Head, from Matter of Fact to Evidence of Reason; this Universal Consent is a strong Argument of God's Existence. For whence could this common belief proceed, but from a common, natural Principle, wherewith the Souls of all men were endued by the Common Creator, to bear witness of his Be­ing, as a Signature made by his own Finger?

I do not mean, that the Notions we have of God are connatural to the Sou; that is, inbred, innate, and en­graven, as it were, in our minds, upon our Conception in the Womb, so that every man in his Senses doth of him­self, by common instinct, understand that there is a God. Methinks we need not go so far. It is enough that there is in us an inclination towards God, a disposition and propension to Religion, and an aptness to receive the know­ledge of God upon Instruction, Educa­tion, [Page 80] and the use of common Reason. This we may well call a Natural Prin­ciple; and so the Notions we have of God are Natural Notions, because they do naturally result from the free exercise of our Natural Faculties.

Now this plainly infers the Existence of God; because none but God could put the Souls of all Mankind into this frame: None but the Author of Nature could be the Author of those Princi­ples in our Nature, whereby every man is able to discover and find out God; as all men have done, and do, who use their Reason. All have consented in this, that there is a Deity: Of this One, Universal, Uniform Principle there must be One, Universal, Uniform Cause; nor can any other Cause be reasonably assigned, but that Soveraign Being, who is the Cause of all things, and who or­dered our common Nature thus. Had not God made our Faculties so, that the belief of his Existence springs forth in every one's mind with his Reason, and grows up with his Reason, we might argue with Lucilius in Cicero, De Nat. Deor. lib. 2. That it would have been impossi­ble for that Belief to have continued every where constant, or to have been [Page 81] confirmed by a long tract of time, and to have become inveterate together with mens Ages. For vain, fictitious Opini­ons wear out by Diuturnity. Time disco­vers and destroys the falshood of Ima­gination, but confirms the solid dictates and determinations of Nature. Which shews, that this common, lasting No­tion of the Existence of God, is natu­ral, and owes its original to a Power above, whose workmanship we all are.

To defond themselves against the strength of this Argument, those that say in their hearts there is no God, pretend that this so universal a belief of the Existence of a Deity, may be im­pured to one or other of these four Causes, if not to all of them: Tradi­tion, Fear, State-policy, and common Compact; the vanity of which Pretence I am now to shew, that I may not pass by any thing material which lies in my way, upon this necessary, useful, and seasonable Subject.

[...]. As to the pretence of Tradition, though we suppose it to have been one Cause of that Universal Consent I have spoken of, yet these two things must be said: First, That Tradition ar­gues [Page 82] the Truth of the Belief; and there­fore is alledg'd to no purpose. Secondly, That Tradition of it self alone, and without the dictates of Nature, could not have been a sufficient cause of this Universal Consent.

First, Tradition argues the Truth of that Belief which hath prevailed amongst all Mankind. By Tradition is meant (if men will speak Sense and Reason) an Opinion handed down from some First Authors: Nor can any other Au­thors of this Tradition be assigned, but those from whose Loins all Mankind descended; for how was it possible for a common Principle to spring but from a common Root,. our First Parents? Now this leads us back to the Times which Moses speaks of, when the First Parents of Mankind were formed. And the Faith of God's Existence being de­rived originally from them, cannot but be unquestionably true; because they could not but know their own begin­ning: They could not but know, that God had made them after a preterna­tural manner; that God had formed them by his immediate Power; and that they came out of the hands of [Page 83] God: Nor is it conceivable, that they should have taught their Children the knowledge of God, had not they them­selves been sure there was One: That they should wilfully and designedly im­pose a Fiction upon all their Posterity, and such a Fiction too as would keep their minds in continual bondage under the most frightful apprehensions; this is an Imagination which confounds the Understanding of any reasonable man, and is altogether unaccountable.

Besides, Had not the Tradition been certain, how could it have held so eve­ry where in the World, and all along for several Thousand years to this day? Fables are apt to be soon lost, what Hand soever sends them abroad to pass about in the World. The falshood of them is somewhere or other discover'd in time; especially when Inquisitive and Wise men begin to search into them, and to examine what substance there is in them, and what credit they are of: And how was it possible for this Tra­dition, had it been fabulous, to have gone through the world without inter­ruption, or stop, notwithstanding all the most Curious Enquiries in so many Philosophical and Learned Ages? This [Page 84] shews, that the Tradition is grounded upon Principles of Nature; that there­fore it is common with our Nature; and must be as constant and common as Humane Nature continues.

2. To which I add, Secondly, That though Truth went along with the Tradition, yet of it self alone, and without the Dictates of Nature, it could not have been universally received in all Places and Ages. For every one is not ready to embrace Truth it self, though it be never so probable; and when it is received, in process of time it doth often drop; nor is it easy to conceive how this Truth could have gone so current, as it hath gone, in all parts, and from hand to hand, without any considerable opposition, unless it had had the help of strong Reason to support it, and to carry it on still. No doubt but Adam taught his Chil­dren, in that long tract of time, the Nine hundred and thirty years of his life, many Truths, both Philosophical and Divine, which yet are now quite lost; especially to those people who have not the use of those Books which are open before us. Nay, though we are able by the help of Discourse to [Page 85] gather divers things out of Moses's Wri­tings, which the old Pagans had no knowledge at all of; yet are there se­veral matters which we our selves are to seek for, because they are not evi­dent from clear, cogent Principles of Nature. But this great Truth concern­ing the Existence of God hath been propagated all along together with Mankind, and as people have every where multiplied successively from Ge­neration to Generation. Nay, the higher we go to those Elder times after the Creation, the less of Infidelity we find. Though there were then very few Books in the World, yet God was be­lieved on, and even by those who in their lives dishonoured him: For in those days Nature spake with simplicity, and much plainer and better than in after­times, when men of wanton Wits, and of base Minds, used Arts, and so cor­rupted and debauch'd their Natural Rea­son. This shews, that the Belief of God's Existence is grounded upon some­thing in Humane Nature, which hath still preserv'd it in the world, notwith­standing the miscarriage of many other Traditions which our old Ancestors transmitted to their Posterity, and left [Page 86] with them. This hath escaped unde­stroy'd, uncontradicted but by a very few Partial, Conceited, and Designing Men; of which no other cause can be rationally assigned, but that it is most consonant to the frame of our Nature, a Natural Principle, an Idea of God which he himself hath, as it were, im­printed and stamp'd upon every ones minds, so that it cannot be worn out by Time it self, which weareth out other Notions that are not fixt and rivetted, as this is, into the com­mon Reason of Mankind; and therefore it is not to be imputed to mere Tradi­tion.

2. Nor, Secondly, Can it be imputed to Fear; which is the next Pretence. For those who would destroy the Belief of a God, would fain persuade the world, that it is only a thing of Phancy, a fi­ctitious, frightful Idea, put into peoples heads by Designing Men, or formed in their Brains by the power of their own Imagination; and that their minds being once scared, were easily bent to conceive that there is a Terrible Being over them, which those bold, hardy Wretches imagine to be nothing but a Bugbear, without any real Existence; [Page 87] and accordingly they bottom Religion upon groundless Fears; believing Hell, and Damnation, and a Deity, to be Figments, things invented and talked of to terrify the World; and so the Atheistical Author of the Leviathan re­presents them, comparing them, as he has the confidence to express it, to an empty Hat upon a crooked Stick to fright Birds from the Corn. I should beg every good Christian's pardon for but mentioning such Impiety, did not the Looseness of the Age we live in constrain us to take notice of the strange Notions that are got abroad: The mean­ing whereof in short is, That if people were not frighted out of their Wits, they would hardly believe the Existence of a Deity; for they ground that Belief upon Fear, and make Popular Fear to be the cause of it. And hence it is, they think, that this Belief hath gene­rally prevailed in the World; not from any Natural Principle in the Under­standing, but from a slavish, foolish Pas­sion of heart; and because men have been every where taught to be fearful and timorous, or have made them­selves so.

[Page 88]Now to every Considerate, Rational Man, it is plain, that Fear cannot be the cause of that Belief, but is the con­sequence and effect of it: That is, Men do not believe a God, because they are afraid; but are therefore afraid, because they believe there is one, a Just and Powerful Being over all: And therefore their Fears proceed from an Universal, Common, and Natural Principle in eve­ry ones mind, touching God's Existence; for otherwise it were impossible for mens Fears to be so great, so universal, so fixt in Humane Nature, as never to be eradicated.

First, It can never stand with com­mon Reason to conceive, how Fear should create Tormenting Apprehensi­ons of a Being, whom all Mankind have ever adored for his great Good­ness, and whom Heathen Philosophers themselves have discover'd by the Light of Nature, to be for his Divine Perfe­ctions the most Lovely and Desirable Being in the whole world. What Re­verence soever the sense of his Greatness may call for, disquieting. Terrors of a Being so infinitely Perfect, cannot spring but from an Evil Conscience: And then [Page 89] I appeal to all Men of Sense, whether that Conscience ought to be heard a­gainst God, whose Interest it is to have none. This is certain, That there can be no fear, where there is not supposed an Object to be afraid of. That Object must be acknowledged, not only to be, but to be Angry and Threatning; other­wise our Faculties would be both vain and delusory, constrained to fear where no grounds of fear are; which is to re­proach Nature it self, that is so adored by some Insidels, and to impeach it for a Common Cheat.

Secondly, Though we should think some particular Persons imposed upon by their Fears; yet how could all Men in the World fall under the same Impo­sture at once? How could they be seiz'd with one Agony universally, but from an Epidemical Principle in Humane Na­ture? Or, how could they all jump to­gether in one Principle without the Hand of a God who made them all, and intend­ed by this means to hold them all fast to himself?

Thirdly, If we should be so unreason­able as to suppose Mankind to have been frighted all at the same instant, no body knows by whom, or when, or [Page 90] how; and by that fright to have been possest with the thoughts of a Deity, can we suppose too that they had no time in so many Ages, to recover them­selves out of that panick Distemper? Fear is a cruciating and tormenting Pas­sion, which every Man is desirous to rid himself of as soon as he can; and would all Mankind be plagued with it perpetually, and without grounds? If it be said, That some Philosophers have found out the unreasonableness of it, and for that reason have discarded the Notion of a Deity, which was the effect of it; how came it to pass, that those Philosophers themselves could not void their own minds of that Fear notwith­standing? It was observed before out of Cicero, That Epicurus, as great an A­theist as he was, could not rid himself of the fear of God and Death; and if the hearts of his Followers were through­ly searched, it will be found, that none are more fearful than they; which is a plain sign, that there are Briars and Thorns in their Consciences that can never be pluck'd up by the Roots; that there is a Testimony of God within them, and that how slightly and contu­meliously soever they may talk of a God [Page 91] in their sits, there is an abiding Convicti­on upon their minds, that there is a God that judgeth the Earth, and will one day render to every Man according to his works.

There is an end of fear, when once it is discovered to be groundless; and if Democritus, and the rest of them, did verily believe, there was no God, what made them still afraid? This fear could not raise the Notion of a Deity in them, because they disputed against the No­tion. No; it was the Notion of God, which their Consciences could not part with, whatever they said; it was this that kept them in fear. For Nature will not lye, however Mens Tongues may; and the terrible Apprehensions which those very Men laboured under, are a plain argument, that the belief of God's Existence is inseparable from all mens Reason; a Principle never to be pulled or torn out of Humane Nature, because radicated in it by the Maker of Man­kind.

3. It is suggested also, That the uni­versal belief of a Deity was introduced by the contrivance of Politick Princes, who took advantage by the panick fears [Page 92] of People to confirm their apprehensi­ons, and to fill their minds with Noti­ons of a God, that thereby they might the better keep their Subjects in Peace and Obedience to their Commands, and in continual Awe of an Invisible, Om­nipotent Being, that would punish both in this World, and in another, all Se­dition, Contumacy, and Disorders, though never so secretly acted; and so they resolve all Religion into State Poli­cy, as if it were nothing but an Impo­sture, and Artificial Engine of Civil Go­vernment, formed by the Wit and Cun­ning of designing Legislators. One of the thirty Tyrants at Athens, Critias by Name, is thought to have been one of the first that suggested this, and fancied the belief of a Deity to be an Invention and Trick of State; and from him that fancy is come down to us, and hath possest the Brains of some in this Age, who are much of the Principles and Tem­per of Critias. I call it a fancy, because it is an unreasonable imagination upon these four Accounts.

1. First, It is not conceivable, how any Pagan, though never so great a Statesman or Philosopher, could at first without any Preconception or Disposi­tion [Page 93] towards a Deity, devise and cre­ate in his mind a bright Idea of so glorious a Being, and of those Divine Properties which essentially belong to a Nature that is acknowledged to be emi­nently and absolutely Perfect. If it be said, This Idea was first formed by the strength of Humane Reason, the Point is gained, that the Notion of a Deity is grounded in the intellectual part of Hu­mane Nature, a rational, natural Prin­ciple; and for that cause, the belief of a God has been universally profest all over the World. If it was not the work of Reason, but a kind of Phantasm that fell by meer chance into the man's Ima­gination, a casual and contingent Idea, that one would think might as well have dropt into the phancy of a Com­mon Animal without the use of Reason: How is it conceivable, that such a glorious Idea, as the Idea of God is, could be first framed in any mans Ima­gination by chance? The Idea of a Be­ing of all the most glittering Perfecti­ons? The Idea of a most Wife, Righte­ous, and Gracious Being? The Idea of an Omnipotent, Benign Cause of all things? In short, The Idea of a Being that is the most glorious, beautiful, and [Page 94] charming Object for the Rational Facul­ty to be fixt on, and to contemplate, and for one's heart to desire? How could such an Idea fall into any one's fancy by meer chance, and without the Operation of Reason?

2. Or Secondly, How can such an imaginary Figment of the Brain be rea­sonably thought to have possest the minds of all the Politicans in the World at once, and that by chance too? How could they all entertain the same Noti­ons of God at the same time, if they were fictitious things; or if there were not great Reasons for them in Nature? How could Men of so many different Languages, and in so many distant Places and Countries, conspire all at once to devise a Notion, for which there was no Reason, Ground, or Truth?

3. Or, Thirdly, If all Princes could have joyn'd together to couzen the World, how is it conceiveable that they would, or could have put a cheat up­on themselves, and have deceived their own minds? For Princes and Statesmen lie under the apprehensions of God as well as other Men; and the most har­dy, crafty Politician is some time or other afraid of him, as Caligula was [Page 95] when he heard it thunder. God hath been the Hope of good Princes, and the Terror of bad Ones; and what ground could they themselves have for their expectation of Rewards or Punishments, if the belief of a Deity had been an In­vention of their own; and if their secret design hereby was to keep, not them­selves, but their People in Awe?

4. But though all this were supposed possible, yet how can it be imagined that the most subtle Statesman could deceive the minds of all other Men in the World for such a long Tract and Succession of Ages, with a groundless and unreasonable Opinion? There are but two ways of propagating a Fiction, viz. Violence and Fraud, and neither of these can with any colour of sense be pretended in this Case. First, For Vio­lence, no History can shew, that ever it was used to make People believe the Be­ing of a Deity. Whatever force has been used, was intended to establish some particular Form of Religion, and Manner of Worship, which Men in Power thought most agreeable; and in their severe proceedings they intended not to create in People's minds the Faith of God's Existence, but did suppose that, [Page 96] and took it for granted, and took ad­vantage by it to carry on their great End, which was, to bring People to a particular Mode of Religion, that they themselves were best pleas'd with. Be­sides, Violence, if it had been used in this Case, could not have done their work, because the Minds of Men are never to be forced, especially into an universal Belief, and without the help of Reason. Whatever External Professions and Compliances it may bring a few timorous Persons to, it cannot alone work upon the Understanding and Con­science, to receive an Opinion which is not in it self evident or probable; rather, Men are apt to hate an Opinion that is brought with the terrible Pomp of Sword and Fire; witness all the un­successful Attempts of Princes, who in­stead of propagating their Religion, have still done it hurt by Sanguinary Me­thods. The difficulties here would have been far greater, nay, insuperable, to force all the People in the World into the belief of a thing so contrary to the Inclinations and Ease of their own Minds; to make them believe that there is an Almighty Being over them, that ob­serves all their evil Actions, and will [Page 97] most certainly punish them; and so to bring them under a necessity of posses­sing themselves Day and Night with tormenting Anxieties; this is so incon­sistent with those desires which every one naturally hath of enjoying all pos­sible Satisfaction and Comfort in his own breast, that it would have been im­possible for all the World to have been forced into an universal Belief of it, had there not been an universal Principle in Nature to oblige them to it. Fear is a disquieting Passion, which every Man would clear his mind of as soon as he can. Some who have been bred up in the fear of God, have endeavoured to force themselves out of it, even against their Consciences and Reason; and how all Mankind could be forced into it without their Consciences and Reason, is altogether unconceiveable.

It is therefore pretended in the next place, That this was done by the subtle and fraudulent Arts of Politicians; and that People believed, because they were told by their Governors, that there was a Deity. But to tell, is one thing; and to perswade, another. People are not wont, much less are all People in the World dispos'd to have so very kind an [Page 98] Opinion of their Superiors, as to be­lieve them upon their bare words; espe­cially in a case which touches them so nearly; and wherein all the Pleasure of their Lives, and the Peace of their Minds are so deeply concern'd. For Men have ever found, that Sense, Wis­dom, and Honesty, do not always go along with Power. Great Men may be as weak and shallow in their Intellectu­als as others, as soon mistaken in their Measures, as easily disappointed of their Ends; nay, more apt to be put upon, than to impose. And though some may be very skilful in their Conduct, yet may they be designing; and the more politick any Governors are thought, the more ready are People to be very jea­lous of their Intentions; and how it could happen all at once, that all States­men should be so politick as to con­trive, and all Mankind should be so credulous as to consent to a Fiction of so great a Nature and Consequence, is a question which may well ask any Man of Reason, how this can agree with it? But besides, suppose such a lucky hit did once, (no Man knows when) fall out; how is it imaginable, That a politick Artisice could have past [Page 99] every where all along from Age to Age, without being discovered by the greatest part of Mankind? There are very few probable Truths, but some time or other have met with Contra­diction; and when an Imposture comes to be notorious, it is for ever basfled; and if the belief of a Deity had been such, how can we think, that a De­sign formed to terrify and rack the World, should not have been found out and spoiled many Ages ago; especially when inquisitive Philosophers travelled up and down into so many parts to dis­cover what was true, and what was false, and to communicate their thoughts where ever they went? Still they re­turned home confirmed in their belief of a God, as the Rational Sense of all Men; and though in after-times some few Opiniators pretended to be singular, yet were they hooted at, scorn'd, and hated; and the ancient, universal Be­lief went on still, which makes it evi­dent, that it was of strength enough to support it self; and the more narrow­ly it was lookt into, the greater Sub­stance was found within it, and the greater Solidity at the bottom of it; being highly consonant to every Man's [Page 100] Reason, and founded in our Common Nature.

4. It is pretended, lastly, That tho universal Belief of a God might have been introduced by common Compact, or mutual Agreemeent among Mankind, which is as sensless and filly an Imagi­nation as any other; for how was it possible for such an Agreement to have been begun, managed, carried on, and ratified, with the express consent of all People in the World? Surely they that think so, must imagine, that the World lies within a very narrow compass; and that intelligence in those Days was ve­ry quick, and that the minds of all Men were wonderfully credulous. 'Tis a great rarity to find in any one lit­tle Country or Town, an entire agree­ment in matters of Opinion, though they carry with them sufficient reasons of credibility; and was it ever possible for so many Nations in the World, of such different Languages, so vastly di­stant from one another, of such seve­ral Inclinations, Customs, and Interests, so divided by Seas, and without any Mutual Commerce or Correspondence; is it likely, I say, That they could all [Page 101] deliberately agree in one and the same Notion of their own making by Pact, Covenant, and Stipulation? And that too, to abridge themselves of the Plea­sures of Life, to bring themselves into Slavery under fears of their own crea­ting, to crucify their Hearts with mor­tifying Expectations, to render them­selves came and managable by their Go­vernors, to propagate a Fiction, and thereby to make their Posterity for ever melancholy and miserable, if there were no God?

But this pretence is so very Absurd and Phantastical, that to confute it any further would be time lost; and there­fore the premises being rightly consi­dered, must necessarily infer, that the Belief of a Deity is a Principle rooted in Humane Nature; Notwithstanding all the various Modes of Religion which are in the World, all Nations Consent in this Principle, perhaps it is the on­ly Principle wherein all are agreed: Which shews, That it is the necessary and immediate Result of Common Rea­son. It springs out of our Natural Fa­culties, as soon as we use them. We bring the Seminals of Religion into the World with us; and the universal Belief [Page 102] of a Deity is a strong argument of God's Existence, because it could come from no other hand but his that gave us our Faculties, and framed our Nature so, that by the exercise of our Facul­ties we may presently discover the Hand that made us, and gave us our Being, and hath set a mark of himself upon the minds of all Men, whereby his Being may be discerned and known, though all the Glories of his Nature can­not be fully comprehended.

If at last it be said, That this Argu­ment touching universal Consent is not strong enough to prove the Truth of God's Existence, because then it would prove too the truth of Idolatry, foras­much as all Nations were once Idolaters, and consented in the worship of a great many Deities: To this, two things may be easily returned,

First, That there was no such univer­sal Consent as to that; no, not among the Pagans themselves. For though they worshipped a plurality of Objects, and the vulgar People paid their Devo­tions to them, as to so many real and di­stinct Deities; yet (as I shew'd before) they own'd One Supreme God, and [Page 103] look'd upon the rest as Inferior Beings; Deities that had been generated or made by the great Cause of all things, and them they adored for his sake, and upon his account, as Deputies and Admi­nistrators under him, and as Mediators for Men to him; so that they referred their Worship to him by them, and did terminate all of it in him. And yet the wiser sort of Men among them, did not esteem that multitude of Deities, as so many real Persons, Substances, and Beings distinct from the Supreme, but rather as so many several Virtues and Powers of One Sovereign Numen, personated fictitiously, according to theSee Dr. Cud­worth's Intel. Sy­stem. l. 1. c. 4. p. 502. various Works and Manifestations of that One God, that did Pervade all things, did Exist in all things, did Act in all things, and was conceived by them to be in a manner all things, and consequently was, as they thought, most honoured, and best serv'd by the Religious Honours which were given him by and through his Works every where, as he manifested every where his Virtue, and display'd his Power. So that the great Error among the old Hea­thens, seems not to have been about the Existence of One God, (as to which [Page 104] they were well agreed) but about the way and manner of Worshipping him; as to that, they were divided in their Opi­nions; some believing the Supreme God to be worshipped joyntly with other Deities; and the rest conceiving him to be worshipped alone under several Names, Titles, and Appellations. Now, though the Being of God was a thing so evident, obvious, and bright, that it flash'd in all their faces, yet in their Notions of God's Worship (a thing which required greater use of Reason and Philosophy) they were puzled and distracted; and therefore universal Con­sent cannot be pleaded to prove the truth of their Religion, and the real Existence of all their Deities; because they were not generally agreed as to that, as they were in this Common Principle, That there is One God over all things.

2. Secondly, How gross soever the Conceits of the Heathens were, the whole account of the matter shews, That they were inclined and willing to Worship the True God, if they could but have certainly known where or how to have found him. In places of the thickest Darkness, and in times of the [Page 105] greatest Ignorance, there was in all Men a Propensity to some Religion or other; so that rather than People would have no God at all, they would adore many, which still serves to confirm the Point in hand, That the belief of a Deity is radicated in Humane Nature, how hard soever some few odd Men have labour'd and strain'd to tear it out. Seeing a belief so universal cannot be founded on meer Tradition, or Fear, or Policy, or any advised Agreement, and Institu­tion amongst Mankind; if we will en­quire soberly into the Reasons of it, no other rational Account can be given, but that the Faculties of our Nature are so framed by the Excellent Wis­dom and Power of God, that upon the due exercise of our Understanding and Reason, an Idea of God ariseth in every one's mind; which is, therefore rightly called a Natural Idea, because it may be formed by the use of our Natural Faculties, without the assi­stance of special Revelation; and be­cause our Nature is so ordered by the Father of Spirits: Divines rightly say, That the Idea of God is imprinted on all Mens minds by the Finger of God, and is a mark of himself, and of his [Page 106] own setting, to let us know that we are all his, and to draw from us all possible returns of Praises and Reve­rence, of Admiration and Love, of Imitation and Obedience, and Univer­sal Submission to his Divine Will and Pleasure.


HAVING fully consider'd this Ar­gument of God's Existence, taken from the Universal Consent of Mankind, and the Common Principle which is in Humane Nature; I proceed now to that which was proposed as the Third Head; viz. The Consideration of some Extraordinary Occurrences in the World, which further argue the Being of a God.

And here many things might be ta­ken notice of, were I minded to let this Discourse swell into a great bulk; as, The Strange Discoveries which have been made of many the most Secret Villanies; the Wonderful Events, where­by the Designs of Wicked Men have been prevented and over-rul'd; the Va­rious Providences whereby Opprest In­nocence hath been vindicated and deli­ver'd, the Several Revelations of the Divine Will which have been given since the beginning of the Creation, the constant supporting of Government and Order in the World, the remarka­ble Translation of Empires for Peoples [Page 108] Provocations; the Astonishing Examples which have been made of many Bold, Incorrigible Wretches; and the like: All which do in their kind shew, that there is a Divine Disposer and Gover­nor of the Universe; an Observing and Righteous God, that judgeth all the Earth. But because these may chance to be looked upon rather as Popular Suggestions, than Convincing, Solid Ar­guments, I shall for brevity sake wave them, and insist only upon Two things, which the most Judicious Men are com­monly wont to urge, and which indeed are past all contradiction, if matter of Fact can be made appear: And they are

  • 1. First, Such Miraculous Works, as could never have been done but by an Almighty Power: And,
  • 2. Secondly, Such Predictions and Pro­phesies, as could never have been deli­vered without the foreknowledge of an Omniscient Being.

1. First, For those Miraculous Works which could never have been done without an Almighty Power. By Mi­racles I mean such as are True Mira­cles; [Page 109] or such Effects, as no Second, Sub­ordinate Cause can possibly work of it self; no Finite, Natural Agent can do by any Causality, or Virtue of its own. And of such Miracles there seem to be these Three sorts, which most of all re­late to the matter in hand:

1. First, Such as have been done without any Concurrence or Instru­mentality of Second Causes; nay, such as could never have been done by any Limited Power: As the giving sight to those who were born without Eyes; the making the Sun to go back, or to stand still; the Raising of the Dead to life again; and the multiplying a few Loaves and Fishes to satisfy Five thou­sand People.

2. Such Effects, as perhaps might have been done in time by the help of Natural means, but yet never were, nor could be wrought on a sudden by their use and application; as, the healing of the Leprosy in a moment; the instan­taneous removing of the Palsey, and the like Difficult and Inveterate Di­stempers.

3. Such Effects as have been done by the use of Means; but yet such a [Page 110] sort of Means, as were indispos'd for those Operations; nay, were utterly uncapable of themselves to produce those strange Effects: As, the Dividing of the Sea with a Rod; the Separating of Waters by smiting them with a Mantle; the Curing of a Leprosy by washing in a Common River; the Sweet­ning of a Bitter Fountain with a Piece of Wood; the giving Sight to the Blind by the application of Clay and Spittle; the Restoring of the Deaf and Dumb by putting a Finger into the Ear; the Healing of many Infirmities with a Touch, with the Hem of a Garment, with an Handkerchief, with a Word, with a Shadow of a Man passing by, and the like.

All these Extraordinary Occurrences are above the Powers of all Art and Nature: The first sort, in respect of the Quality of them; the rest in respect of the Manner of their Production. No Creature can stop the Course of the Sun, any more than he can pull all the Stars out of the Firmament. No Creature can form an Eye, or any Integral part of it, any more than he can extinguish the Light of the Day: No Creature can recover the Dead, any more than he [Page 111] can mould an Humane Soul and Body out of the dust. Nor can any Crea­ture do one Wonder (though it be only a Wonder in Nature, or to out­ward appearance) either without means, or by means indisposed, incompetent, and insufficient, any more than he can frame a World, or govern the Universe by his Beck. The Nature of these things, and the Power that is requisite to bring them to pass, sets them above all the reach of Natural, Finite, Limited Agents; and therefore when they are done, they are plain Demonstrations of a Superior Power, Arguments of an Uncontroulable Hand, Proofs of an Al­mighty Agent; that is, of the Existence of a God.

1. For first; None but an All power­ful Being can alter the Establish'd Course and Order of things. Every part of the World is under some peculiar Law, which it regularly and constantly ob­serves. Though here and there Nature may commit some slight Error in its Specifick Operations; yet the great Laws of the Universe stand, and hold against all Natural Agents; and every Creature yieldeth Obedience to them. [Page 112] Therefore when the setled Course of the Creature is altered (as it always is when a True Miracle is wrought) it is an undeniable Argument of a Supe­rior Hand, which gave every thing its Law, Never to be changed but by the same Power which fix'd it; and against which no Law can possibly hold, when that Sovereign Being hath a mind to dispose of a Creature into a different Course. As for instance; 'Tis a Law which the Waters are under, That they shall perpetually consist of fluid parts, by means whereof they naturally run into, and maintain an inviolable state of mixture and co-adunation. 'Tis a Law the Heavens are under, That the Lamps thereof shall be Day and Night in motion. 'Tis a Law every Man is under, That the Dust shall return to the Earth as it was, and the Spirit shall return unto him that gave it. Ac­cording to these Laws doth the Course and Order of all these things hold, never to be broken or changed by the natural force of any of their Fellow-Creatures. Now when it so happens, that either an Heavenly Body is arrested in its progress; or that the Sea is thrown up and consolidated into stand­ing [Page 113] heaps; or that a man's Soul, which had escaped out of its Prison, is sent back again out of the other world, and remanded into its Cold, Earthly, and Ruinated Lodgings; it is impossible with Reason to ascribe this to any o­ther Cause, but the Omnipotence of a Transcendent Being, who governs and disposeth all things in Heaven and Earth of his own good pleasure. And it shews, that the first sort of Mira­cles, viz. such as have been done with­out the operation of any Second Cau­ses, nor could have been done by them, are clear Attestations of the Existence of a Deity, under whose Hand and Power all other Beings are.

2. And then, Secondly, Touching the other sorts of Miracles, such as have been wrought instantly, and without means sufficient of themselves, as the Curing of Diseases in a moment by a Word, or a Touch; they are the pro­ductions of things out of nothing; which cannot be attributed to any thing less than a Deity. For in these Cases there is an utter indisposition, both in the Means, and in the Object about which those Means are used; and consequently, such a Miracle is a [Page 114] kind of Creation, which nothing but Omnipotence can produce. There is little, if any, difference, as to the Power, between raising things out of no pre­existent Matter, and forming things out of Matter that in it self is quite uncapable of that formation; in each Case an Almighty Power is necessary; and where that Power is, it is the same thing to it, in effect, to bring Perfections out of utter Incapacities, as to bring Habits out of Privations, or Substance out of Non-entity. Which is an evident Proof, That granting those Miracles were really done, which we find recorded of the Prophets in the Old Testament, and especially of our Sa­viour, and his Apostles in the New, they must be acknowledg'd to have been wrought by a Divine Power, or by the hand of an Omnipotent Being; and consequently that such an Omnipo­tent Being doth Exist.

Hence it is, that True Miracles are always destructive of Insidellty; so that where-ever they have been shew'd, all Teachable Men have been convinced of the particular Providence of an Al­mighty God over that People. When Naaman the Syrian found himself healed [Page 115] of his Leprosy, by washing in Jordan at the instance of Elisha, it extorted that Confession from him, Behold, now I know, that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel, 2 Kings 5. 15. When that Nobleman, John 4. saw what a Miracle was wrought on his dying Son, the Text saith, That himself be­lieved, and his whole house, V. 53. When Sergius Paulus saw what a Miracle was done for the punishment of Elymas the Sorceror, he believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord, Acts 13. 12. In which three Instances means were used, such as they were. In the first, the application of Water; in the two latter, the speaking of a few words only; and yet each Miracle was as con­vincing, as if God had displayed his im­mediate hand; because the means be­ing of themselves insufficient for the production of such astonishing Events, argued plainly, that an Omnipotent Virtue went along with them, which supplied their natural insufficiency, and shewed, that the Excellence of the Power was of God.

What I have said upon this Point doth suppose, that these, and the like Miraculous Works have been actually [Page 116] done; and if so, then the Inference will be necessary and unavoidable, That there is a God. But to evade the force of this Argument, the Infidels of our Age have these Two things to say.

1. First, That no True Miracles, or Supernatural Works, have been ever wrought.

2. And Secondly, That the Wonders we read of, are no more an Argument of the truth of God's Existence, than they are of the truth of Idolatry, be­cause Idolaters themselves have pretend­ed to Miracles. These two Subterfuges and Shifts must be now considered in their order.

1. First, They will allow of no higher Miracles than what have been found here in Nature, when some unusual things have hapned, the natural cause whereof could not be well assigned. As for Supernatural Effects, they are Fables in the account of these men; because they cannot admit of such Ef­fects without admitting of a Superna­tural Power to produce them; that is, the Existence of a Deity; which of all [Page 117] things in the world they are most afraid to own.

Now for the clearing of this weigh­ty matter, I would first ask these great Pretenders to Reason, this General Que­stion; Whether it be rational to deny matter of Fact, which hath as good Evidence as can possibly be given of any matter of Fact which we have not seen with our own eyes? If this be rational, then there is an end of Faith amongst Mankind, and we must believe nothing but what our own Senses bear witness to; and so no Cre­dit is to be given to any History, or Relation in the world. If it be not rational, then have we as good grounds to believe the truth of Supernatural Ef­fects, or Miracles, as can in reason be expected for the truth of any thing that is gone and past.

And this shall be my next business, to shew, That the Account we have of such and such Miracles done, carries with it as strong Evidence, at least, as any matters of Fact we find in any Hi­story of former Ages; so that with as much reason men may reject the belief of any, nay of all Accounts, as the belief of this.

[Page 118]I do not here in the least pretend to support the Credit of all those Ap­pearances which have gone under the name of Miracles, especially in latter Ages. We read of multitudes, which have been either downwright Forgeries and Fictions, purposely invented to carry on Lucrative and Superstitious Designs; or else have been no better than Illu­sions of mens Senses, whereby the Cre­dulity of weak people hath been im­pos'd upon, and abus'd. Nay, many of them are of such a ridiculous Na­ture, that some have been ashamed of the Stories, though they have made Money by the Invention. To talk of such Miracles is a great disadvantage and prejudice to Christ's Religion, however it may serve mens private In­terest.

The Miracles I urge as clear Demon­strations of the Existence of a God, are those recorded in the Scriptures; in the Old Testament, by Moses, chiefly; and in the New, by the Evangelists. And, how slight soever Scepticks make of them, there is as great evidence of the truth of them, as there can be of any matter of fact, if we will be so just to those Writers, as to allow them the [Page 119] Common Reputation of having been fair Historians; though at present we set aside the consideration of their having been divinely Inspired.

Now the greatest evidence that can possibly be given of any thing that was formerly done, depends upon these four Grounds.

  • 1. That the Person said to have done it, did really exist; or that there was indeed such a Person.
  • 2. That the Relators of the Action were sufficiently Credible.
  • 3. That others who had Reason to know, and were able to know the truth of the matter, were sufficiently satisfied of the certainty of it.
  • 4. That things of great and publick Concernment were the consequents of it. Where there are all these grounds of evidence, no reasonable Men can questi­on any matter of fact, though it was done at a great distance of time from them; and from all these it appears, that such true Miracles have been done, as argue the Existence of an Omnipotent Agent.

[Page 120]1. For first; That there was in the World, such a Man as Moses, and such a Person as Jesus Christ, is as evident, even from Humane Testimony, as that there were such Men as Alexander, Caesar, and Cato. Josephus shews out of those Ancient Writers, Manetho andCont. Ap­pion. l. 1. Chaeremon, what a great esteem the old Egyptians had of Moses; and what an Admirable Divine Person he was in the Account of that Nation. Clemens Alexandrinus tells us out of the Greek Writers, what an Honour the old Phi­losophersStromat. l. 1. among them had for Moses's Memory; and that they look'd upon him as the only wise Man in his time, and gave him the Character of a Prince, a Law-giver, a General, a Just and Ho­ly Person, beloved of God. The same Author tells us, That the Egyptian My­stae believed that Moses was taken up into Heaven; and that Eupolenius gave him the Character of the first wise Man; and that the Mystae relating the Story of his killing the Egyptian, said, That he did it by the word of his Mouth; and that Artapanus own'd the Story of his Imprisonment, adding some fabulous Stuff concerning his Delive­rance. Numenius, the Pythagorean, said, [...]irom. 5. [Page 121] that Moses was a Divine, and a Prophet; and that his Writings are worthy of be­lief,Id. 28. and that he was a most power­ful Man with God by his Prayers. Trogus Pompeius mentions Abraham, Euseb. de prepar. l. 9. c. 8. Moses, and Israel, as Kings of the Jews. He takes notice of the many Sons of Israel (though he mistakes the num­ber). He speaks particularly, and by Name, of those two Sons of Israel, Ju­da, and Joseph; and then he goes on relating the story of Moses, and of his leading the Jews out of Egypt; though he sophisticates the Story with a great deal of falshood, as also Cornelius Ta­citus Justin. l. 36. Tac. l. 5. Hist. doth in his Account of Moses and his Conduct: Both which Ancient Hi­storians follow the Narration which was given of this matter by the Egyp­tians themselves, who mortally hated the Jewish Nation, and told a great many Lies, touching the Reasons and Manner of their Departure from them; as Josephus shews in his first Book a­gainst Appion. Justin Martyr upbraiding the Greeks in his time for being Ene­mies to the Christian Religion, proved to them out of their own Authors, that Moses, who laid the FoundationsExhortat. ad Graec. of Christianity, was acknowledg'd much [Page 122] more Ancient than any of their Poets' Historians, Philosophers, or Legislators' And out of that noble Historian, Dio­dorus, he told them, That Moses was reckoned a God, by reason of his Di­vine and Excellent Wisdom, and for teaching People to use good Laws, and to live according to them; which Account Diodorus, who had spent thirty Years in Travels, said he had from the Priests in Egypt. To these Observations di­vers more might be added out of Gro­tius, and other Modern Writers, were it needful. But the Learned know, That as the Greeks first borrowed their Letters of the Jews; so the best Laws at Athens, and afterwards at Rome, took their Original from the Laws of Moses.

And that Jesus Christ formerly lived in the Land of Judea, is acknowledg'd even by those who were no Friends to his Religion. Josephus the Jew, who seems to have been our Saviour's Co­temporary, saith, That in the Regency of Pontius Pilate, there lived one Je­sus, a wise Man, (saith he) if yet itAntiq. l. 18. c. 4. be sit to call him a Man; because he did many Miracles, and appeared alive again the third Day after his Cruci­fixion. [Page 123] That Roman Historian, Taci­tus, Cornel. Tac. l. 15. speaking of the Christians, tells us, That the Author of that Name, was one Christ, who in the Reign of Tiberius the Emperor was put to Death by Pontius Pilate. About fifty Years after our Saviour's Time, Pliny the Procon­sul of Bithynia, sent the Emperor Tra­jan Plin. l. 10. Ep. 97. this Account of the Christians, That their Custom was to sing Hymus to Christ, as to a God. Suetonius In Vit. Claud. makes mention of him too, meaning not so much his Person as his Doctrine. The Acts of Pilate, to which the Pri­mitive Christians were wont to appeal, shew that there was such a Man once in being. Those Learned Hea­thens who wrote against his Faith, Celsus, Porphyry, and Julian, never questioned the Truth of the History touching his Life and Death. The most hardned Jews themselves, that hate and reproach his Memory, can­not deny, but that there was such a Man, and that their Ancestors killed him. Nay, they are sensible to this day, that for that very reason they are despised and abhorred by the Christian World. So that no account whatsoever of matter of fact can possibly be more [Page 124] attested, more clear and certain than this is, That Jesus Christ once lived in the World.

2. The next thing is, That the Hi­story of those Miracles, which are said to have been done by Moses and our Blessed Saviour, is also as sufficiently credible, as any Historical Account can be.

Two Qualifications are necessary in an Historian to make his Relations sufficiently Credible, Knowledge and In­tegrity; and where both these Quali­fications meet, that is, where a Man cannot be ignorant of the Truth of what he writes, nor can be justly sus­pected of an intention to deceive; in that case there can be no fair or tole­rable reason for our disbelief.

1. Now as to Moses's Knowledge, 'tis impossible to conceive, That he knew not what he did himself, or that he was not conscious of his own Actions. And 'tis as impossible to think that the Evangelists knew not what Jesus Christ did. For Matthew and John were con­tiually about him, attending personal­ly upon him, Eye-witnesses of all his Actions; especially the latter, who was [Page 125] admitted into his Privacies, so that no Miracle is said to have been done at any time out of the common View, but what John was a constant Eye­witness of. And if Luke and Mark were not such Attendants upon Christ himself, as the others were, yet the least that is said of them, is, that the one was conversant with Paul, who had as certain Information of all things as the rest of the Apostles had; and that the other was conversant with Peter, who was allowed the same Priviledge which John enjoyed, and was continually one of those three spe­cial Favourites, who were privy to the Lord Jesus his more secret Acti­ons.

2. This short account being given of all these Writers Knowledge, the next thing to be shewed to make their Testi­mony sufficiently credible, is, their great Intergity, which will soon appear to any reasonable Man that will but consider, 1. First, The Impartiality. 2. And then the Simplicity that is observable in their Writings.

1. The Evangelists have given us an Impartial Account of the Obscurity of [Page 126] Christ's outward Condition; of the Meanness of his Disciples Quality and Fortunes, of their Natural Inabilities, of the Dulness of their Understandings, of the slowness of their Hearts to be­lieve; of their Insirmities and Faults, and particularly, of the Treachery of one Apostle, and of the shameful Lapse of another. There are none of those things concealed, which Men of Art and Partiality would hardly have made known. Nay, it is observable of Mark, that though he was Peter's great At­tondant in the Execution of his Mini­stry; yet in relating the Story of Pe­ter's denying his Master, he tells it as plainly as Matthew doth, with this lit­tle difference, that he doth not take such affecting notice of his Repentance, as the other doth. For, whereas St. Matthew saith, That he wept bitterly; St. Mark saith, only He wept; as if he lessen­ed his Sorrow after an humble, modest manner, in respect to Peter, whose Ama­nuensis he then was. An instance that shews, That if there was any Partiality in these Writers, it was in this, That they did not say enough of one anothers Virtues.

[Page 127]Such Impartiality is seen throughout the History written by Moses. For therein he sets down, not only the Po­verty of his beginnings, but even the Faults and Miscarriages he had been guilty of, and how angry God was for them. He relates as well the Crimes, as the Infirmities of his Ancestors, all along from Noah, down to the Twelve Patriarchs; and among them, he par­ticularly notes the Persidiousness and Cruelty of his great Grandfather Levi, when he and Simeon trick'd the Seche­mites out of their Lives and Fortunes; for which Inhumanity their Father Ja­cob set a Curse upon them, which Moses has very faithfully recorded in Gen. 43. In short, Whereas Partial Hi­storians are wont to seek themselves a Name, by favouring, and many times by slattering the Parties they belong to, Moses spared not his own Nation; But hath left the World a long and lasting Account of the Follies, the Insi­delity, the Murmurings, the Ingrati­tude, the Apostacies, together with the perverse and incorrigible Temper of that People, the Jews; neither concealing, nor excusing, nor extenuating their Pro­vocations; his great Design being to [Page 128] set forth the Glory of God's Truth and Goodness; who set his love upon them, and chose them, not because they were better, or more in number than any People, (for they were the fewest of all People, and a Rebellious People) but because the Lord loved them, and because he would keep the Oath which he had sworn unto their Fa­thers.

2. To demonstrate yet further the Integrity of Moses and the Evangelists, who speak of such Miracles done, let us consider, Secondly, their great Sim­plicity of Mind, without any mixture of Sinister or Self-designs. Men are not wont to tell Tales for nothing. 'Tis either Vanity, or some private Interest, which is the end and drift of Impo­stors. And what could Moses propose to himself by telling stories, which the Egyptians and Jews were so easily able to contradict, if those Miracles had not been done among them? Or, what advan­tage can Men think he aimed at, when at the same time he spake so hardly of those People, from whom alone those advantages were to be expected, if any advantage at all had been sought for? Nay, when he let those advan­tages [Page 129] go, which he had already in his hands? Whereas Men in Power endea­vour to keep their Authority up, and to transmit it to their Posterity, Moses was content to let all that Power dye with him, wherewith he was vested when he govern'd the whole Jewish Nation. He appointed Joshua to suc­ceed him in his Civil Authority. The great Dignity and Advantages of the Priesthood, he disposed of to his Bro­ther Aaron and his Sons. As for his own Children, he left them in Subje­ction to the Priests, to officiate under them in the ordinary and mean Mini­strations of the Tabernacle, not allot­ing them one foot of Land amongst all their Kindred: All which shews, that from the beginning to the end, Moses designed nothing but the Honour of God, and the Common good of his People: And that no Honour or Inte­rest of his own could possibly sway, or tempt him to violate his Integrity.

And what could the four Evangelists propose to themselves, that should move them to deceive the world, and make their Relations incredible, or suspected? Honours they could not aim at, unless men think it an Honour to be Disho­nest: [Page 130] Nor could Interest tempt them to impose fictions on mens Belief, when they were sure beforehand to receive nothing in this world but Hardship, Persecutions, and Death, for their Re­ward. Very poor encouragements for men to invent and spread abroad idle Stories: Or, if it be said, that 'twas for the Credit and Propagation of their Religion; they must be thought the oddest men in Nature, that would coin Fictions for the sake of a Reli­gion they believed to be false; and yet they could not have believed other­wise of it, if they had not known it to have been confirmed by Miracles; for they were the only things that could give Evidence of its Truth be­yond all Contradiction.

3. This I have said to shew, that however some Irreligious Men have the confidence to despise the Scripture­account of Divine Miracles; to com­mon human Reason it appears suffici­ently credible, from the certain Know­ledge, and manifest Probity of the Wri­ters; and consequently, that we have as fair Evidence of the Reality of Mi­racles (in that respect) as can be had of any other matter of Fact that has been [Page 131] done in former Ages. To which let us add, in the next place, this third ground of Credibility; viz. that others, who had reason to know, and were able to know the truth of the matter, were sufficiently satisfied of the certainty of it.

Here again we must return to Mo­ses; and First, it is observable, that the account he gives of Miracles done by him, has continually past through a long succession of Ages, uncontradicted; which is an Argument, that the Inqui­sitive and Knowing men in most Nations were well satisfied of the Reality of the matter: For, as the Mosaick Writings contain the most Ancient Records that are extant in the world, so they seem to have been perused by the most Ancient Philosophers and Historians; because the things related in them were spoken of, and own'd generally by the whole Heathen world; though sometimes not without a mixture of Poetical Fables; as, the Creation of the Universe; the Sanctity of the Sabbaths; the Story of the De­luge, and of the Ark; the Right of cir­cumcision, and the like; as the Learn­ed Grotius hath particularly shew'd in his First Book of the Truth of Chri­stianity. It is very probable, that the [Page 132] general belief of these things sprang from the general persuasion which pre­vailed in the world, of those Signs and Wonders that Moses had shew'd, that made him so great a Person in the Esteem of Mankind. There were thou­sands ready to have disproved the Re­lation, if the Works had not been done; nor is it in the least likely, that of so many Neighbouring Nations round a­bout the Jews, which mortally hated the Jews and their Religion, none would have discovered the Imposture, had they not been satisfied, that what Moses had written, was true. The Ho­nour of having such great things done for them in the eyes of the world would have been thought too much for a despi­sed, hated People to have gone away with.

2. But, Secondly, instead of Contra­dicting Moses's History, the most An­cient Writers among the Egyptians and Greeks, did own his Greatness: Inso­much, that the old Egyptians would have appropriated him to themselves, pretending that he was of Egyptian Parentage, and a Priest of Heliopolis, by name Ozarsiph, changing his name af­terwards to Moses. Some indeed of the other Heathens, as Apuleius, and Nume­nius [Page 133] the Pythagorean, reckon him among the old Magicians, and in particular, among Jannes and Jambres, the famous Magicians of Pharaoh; but all lookt up­on him as a very wonderful Person, by rea­son of the Plagues he brought upon Egypt.

3. And then, Thirdly, as for the Jews, nothing can be more clear, than that their whole Nation have all along ac­knowledg'd the truth of the Miracles done by Moses. For their whole Con­stitution was founded upon the Credit of his Divine Authority; and that de­pended upon the Credit of his Mira­cles: And had any of them been unsa­tisfied in that point, those Rebels who rose up against Moses and Aaron, alledg­ing that they took too much upon them, would have alledged that they pretended too much also; a great deal more than what was true: Nor could those People, who time after time Re­volted from Moses's Law, have had such another Plea for their Apostacies, as this would have been, that the Authority of the Law giver was not confirmed by Mi­racles, as 'twas believed.

I have said thus much of Moses, to confront some in our days, who have taken the confidence to deride the Wri­tings [Page 134] which go under Moses's Name, and the Miracles said to have been wrought by him, that thereby they may with the greater boldness deny the Existence of God; though, if Men will take the evidence given of any matters of Fact done at a great distance of time from them, it is impossible to find better evidence of any matters, than there is of these; of the certainty whereof, those who had Reason to know, and were able to know, were fully satisfied.

I go on now, in the next place, from the same Consideration to prove the Reality of those Miracles which the Evangelists ascribe to Jesus Christ. And who could think themselves more concern'd to enquire into the truth of them, than those great Men, who made it their business to oppose his Religi­on? And yet, that many notable Mira­cles had been done by him, and by his Apostles after him, was manifest to all that dwelt at Jerusalem; and they could not deny it. All that they had to say for their Infidelity, was, that Christ did those wonderful Works by the help of the Devil; but matter of Fact they own'd. Hence it was, that soon after the Lord went out of [Page 135] the World, divers pretended to a power of Miracles, such as Simon Magus, the Gnosticks, and especially Appollonius Ty­anaeus; that they might draw People off from the Profession of Christianity upon the same Motives which had in­duced them to embrace it. Those times abounded with Magicians and Sorce­res; who, though they could not deny the Works which Jesus Christ had done, yet used all their Arts to lessen and disparage them, by pretending to do the like. Our Saviour had foretold his Disciples, That false Christs, and false Prophets would arise, and would shew great signs and wonders, insomuch that (if it were possible) they would deceive the very elect, Matth. 24. 24. Accordingly St. Paul speaking of that set of Seducers, in the Singular Number, as the Man of Sin, saith, That his coming was after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders; that is, with wonders that served to confirm and give testi­mony to false Doctrines, 2 Thess. 2. 9. All these Appearances were so many Imitations of the Works of Jesus, in­tended by those men to deceive, who try'd to counterfeit things which they durst not contradict, for fear of be­ing [Page 136] contradicted themselves by all the World. Nor did those bitter Adversa­ries to Christianity in after-times, Cel­sus and Julian, presume to disown the Miracles of Christ; for they acknow­ledg'd, as other Heathens did, that he cured the Blind and the Lame; but to keep the force of this Argument from working upon mens minds, they reviled his Actions, as though they were done, not by any Divine Power, but by Arts of Magick, after his re­turn out of Egypt, where they pre­tended he had learned his Skill. Brief­ly;Orig. cont. Cels. lib. 1. p. 30. In the Ages which were nearest to our Saviour's, all sorts of knowing Men acknowledg'd the Miraculous things that had been wrought by Him and his Followers: And had some Scepticks of our days lived then, even Jews and Pagans would in that point have ac­cused their Infidelity from notoriety of fact which was unquestionable.

4. And yet there is one Considera­tion more, that gives further Evidence of the truth of those Miracles which Moses and Jesus Christ did; viz. That things of great and publick concernment were the consequents of them; than which no stronger evidence can be [Page 137] given, or desired, of any matter of fact that ever was done in the world. There cannot possibly be a better proof that there were formerly Wise and Good Men in England, than the Government they established, and the Laws they have left us. Our whole Constitution is founded upon their Actions; and the Polity we are under, shews what Kings and Parliaments they were, and what they have done, though the Men are long ago dead. So doth the state of Judaism and the frame of Christianity shew what Moses, and what Christ did. All on each hand is built upon the Miracles which were done by the one and the other; and to say at last, there were no such things, is to ac­cuse all their Disciples of the highest madness, for following their Instituti­ons without Grounds or Reason; a censure that is too hard to be given of so great a part of Mankind, who think they have the greatest Reason in the world for their Profession. Moses his business was, to form the whole Nation of the Jews into a Commonwealth, distinct from all other Societies of Men; to give them pecu­liar Laws; to prescribe them a peculiar [Page 138] Form of Religion; to bring their Necks under an heavy yoke; under a sort of discipline, that was the most strict, the most cumbersome, and laborious: And how can we think that a froward People, just delivered out of one Bon­dage, would presently have submitted to another (nay, a Bondage which they thought was to last for ever), had they not seen such signs and won­ders done before their eyes, as plainly argued that their Lawgiver came to them by immediate Commission from God? Or how can we conceive, that their Posterity, who groan'd so oft­en under the Curses which Moses had left them, would have endured the severities of such a Taskmaster, had they not well known that his Authority over them was attested from Heaven? Nay, How is it imagi­nable, that the Jews at this day should not yet depart from Moses, but stick to him to death, and will undergo any sufferings, rather than leave him, though their Religion (as distinct from Christianity) hath no inward natural Goodness to commend it, no human Power without to support it; and though they themselves be the most [Page 139] ignominious hated People in the world? The Reasons of all this must be drawn from those strong assurances the Jews have always had, That to erect their Polity, and to establish their Religion, Moses did such Works as wore out of the Power of all Art and Nature, and plain tokens that he acted in the Name of God, and by the Authority of God.

And then as for the Christian Insti­tution, it hath been long ago Received and Professed up and down in the world, though it met with, and indeed carried in its nature such vast and manifest discouragements, as could ne­ver have been conquer'd, had not Christ shewed the Necessity and Divi­nity thereof by Miracles. A Religion, whose Author died a most reproachful Death: A Religion, that layeth hard Restraints upon mens natural Desires, and binds them to acts of Self-denial and Mortification: A Religion, that makes People prefer future Expectati­ons before all present Enjoyments, and wait till the day of Judgment for their full Reward. A Religion, that is at­tended with Sorrows and Sufferings, and exposeth its Professors to Death it [Page 140] self, for the sake of a good Consci­ence: In short, a Religion, that brings with it all the seeming disadvantages and discouragements that can be offer­ed to Flesh and Blood. And yet not­withstanding all inconveniences, this Religion, where-ever it hath been Preach'd, hath continually prevailed over the hearts of all Teachable Men in the world; of which no other rational account can be given, but this, That the Au­thor and Finisher of our Faith proved his Authority, and confirmed all his Laws and Doctrines by working Mira­cles by the finger of God. The works that he did in his Father's name, they bore witness of him, Joh. 10. 25. For all peo­ple knew that he was a Teacher come from God, because no man could have done those Miracles that he did, except God had been with him, Joh. 2. 3. So that Miracles were the foundation of every man's Faith and Obedience; the great Reasons which Congregated all people into that Body which we call the Church; and which still holds them firm together against all the Hard­ships and Storms that can be brought upon them. The Christian Church is a standing, visible Monument of our [Page 141] Saviour's Miracles, as the Jewish State was of the Miracles wrought by Mo­ses; and both of them are Monuments of such vast and publick consequence, as could never have been erected with­out them; much less could they have stood against all Winds and Weather. And after all, to imagine (as some do) that no such Divine Supernatural Ef­fects were ever done, is to say, That the greatest part of the World have been all along so many stark Fools; a Character which we think more pe­culiarly belongs to those who say in their hearts, There is no God.

Considering what a difficult and ha­zardous Office the first Preachers of Christianity had to discharge, How, think ye, was it possible for them to undertake it with such readiness, to perform it with such vigour, and to go through it with such constancy and chearfulness, notwithstanding so much opposition, had they not been abun­dantly convinced of the truth of their Religion by Miracles, which they saw with their own eyes? And con­sidering what vast importance the Christian Religion is declared to be of; and how directly opposite it is [Page 142] to the natural Inclinations of corrupt Mankind, and how it was discounte­nanc'd and hated by Jews and Hea­thens in the beginning; How can we think it possible for it to have been received so generally and unexpectedly in the World, had not inquisitive Men, who had the fairest advantages of know­ing matters of Fact, been fully satisfi­ed, That the mighty Miracles reported to have been done by Jesus, were true? Men cannot think these things possi­ble, but either they must believe, that people in those days had lost all their Senses; or make us now believe, that they themselves have utterly lost their own.

The design of all this is to shew, That there is as convincing and strong Evidence, that True, Divine Miracles have been wrought, as can rationally be expected of any thing which hath been done in former times; because no matter of Fact whatsoever can possibly be capable of stronger proof. In cases of this nature, the utmost that can be expected, is Moral Certainty; when the Evidence is so fair, that no reaso­nable man can have just cause to doubt of the truth of the matter; and that [Page 143] Evidence must be from Testimony, be­cause it is impossible for us to know any thing which is gone and past, but by information from others; and when that Information is so full, that to un­prejudiced Understandings the thing seems unquestionable, it is as much as any reasonable man can desire. Since therefore it appears by indubitable Te­stimony, that those persons, who are said to have done Miracles, were once actu­ally living in the World; since it appears that the History of those Miracles is sufficiently credible, and is confirmed by the collateral Testimony of those, who were both capable of knowing, and deeply concern'd to know the Truth of that Account: And, lastly, since such publick Settlements and Con­stitutions followed upon the Credit of those Miracles, as plainly argued a firm and general Belief, or rather Knowledge of them, and could never have been brought about without them: Since, I say, all these grounds of Credibility do appear, to give evidence to the truth of Miracles formerly done; it seems uncon­ceivable, how stronger or clearer evi­dence can be given of any matter of Fact, or of any History that is now in the World.

[Page 144]2. Let us consider next the second Evasion; That supposing some wonder­ful things to have been done in former Ages, yet this is no more an Argu­ment of the truth of a God's Existence, than it is of the truth of Idolatry; because Idolaters themselves have pre­tended to Miracles, to vouch for their Religion. And considering how incon­sistent, and impossible it would be for a Deity to act for, and against it self too, therefore Men of Atheistical minds conclude, That those wonderful Works which have gone under the name of Divine Miracles, have been really no­thing but Art and Imposture.

Now for the solving of this seem­ing difficulty, I shall consider two Things:

  • 1. First, Matter of Fact.
  • 2. Secondly, The Weakness of these Mens reasoning from it.

1. First then, that I may carry a fair and impartial Hand, it is granted, that many strange and extraordinary things are said to have been done by Men of a false Religion. For Moses [Page 145] himself tells us what the Magicians did in Egypt be [...]ore his own face. Jesus Christ told his Disciples, that many false Teachers would come in a little time with Signs and Wonders to deceive (if it had been possible) the very Elect. To verify that Prediction, divers Eccle­siastical Writers tell us of the Wonders done by Simon Magus, and his Followers, soon after the Lord's Ascension into Heaven. Others tell us of the Blind and the Lame being cured by the Hea­then Emperor Vespasian; and of a Whet­stone being divided into two by a Ra­zor, at the Command of Accius Navius; and of several Prodigious things done by Apollmius Tyanaeus, whom the Pagans matched with Jesus Christ for doing Miracles. And every body knows what Accounts of Miracles have been given by the Church of Rome, in de [...]ence of that part of their Religion, wherein they have most scandalously departed from True, Primitive Christianity. Con­sidering therefore what an heap of Sto­ries there is, whereof some are related by Sacred Writers, and some others by Men of Probity and Temper (though abundance of Fictions hath been vend­ed among them) it must be allowed, [Page 146] that many Wonderful Works have been done by Idolaters.

But then, Secondly, This can be no Plea for the truth of Idolatry; because how wonderful soever those Works have seemed, they were not in themselves Divine Miracles. We must distinguish between Miracles in Appearance, and Miracles in Reality. By Miracles in Appearance (which should rather be cal­led Wonders and Signs) I understand, not mere Impostures, or Delusions of mens outwards Senses, but such Real Effects as may seem to be done by the extraordinary and immediate Power of God, when indeed they are not. That such things are possible to be done, is clear from Deut. 13. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. where God himself gave the Jews this Caution, If there arise among you a Prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign, or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereeof he spake to thee, saving, Let us go after other gods (which thou hast not known) and let us serve them; thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all [Page 147] your soul. Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice; and you shall serve him, and cleave unto him; and that prophet or dreamer of dreams shall be put to death. We cannot con­ceive, that when God hath any where established his true Worship, he will lift up his own hand to draw People away from it to Idolatry; and therefore when Signs or Wonders are shewed to that end, we may be sure they are not Divine Miracles, or Effects that are altogether Supernatural: And yet 'tis manifest, that such things may be done as are counterfeitings of God's hand, and seem to carry the signatures of his Power; for otherwise there would have been no reason for that charge given to the Jews, that they should not heark­en to such a false Prophet, but put him to Death, though his Sign or Wonder came to pass. Hence 'tis easie to con­clude, That there are Miracles in appear­ance, which are not true ones: For God cannot act contrary to himself, by work­ing one Miracle to Establish his True Worship, and another to Destroy it; and therefore those Men are insinitely mista­ken, who pretend, That if Miracles ar­gue [Page 148] the Existence of a Deity, they ar­gue the truth of Idolatry also; for it cannot be proved that any one Divine Miracle was ever yet done to confirm and give credit to Idolatry; and there­fore I deny that any Idolaters can with Truth or Reason pretend it.

Now here Two things may be de­manded, which I shall consider a lit­tle, because they are pertinent to the point in hand, and may be very useful if rightly understood.

1. First, What Natural Power Mi­racles in Appearance may be imputed unto, supposing they have been actu­ally done.

2. And, Secondly, How we may be able to know and distinguish such Ap­pearances from works which were strict­ly and properly Miraculous.

1. First, What Natural Power Mira­cles in Appearance may be imputed unto, supposing they have been actu­ally done? This is no very difficult Proposal, either to those Pagans who own the Existence of Demons; or to us Christians who read of Angels Good and Bad; all under the Government [Page 149] of a Supreme Glorious Being, the Father of Spirits. But to the Scepticks of our Age, it will seem odd to speak of these things, because they acknowledge not the Existence of any thing that is not Material and obvious to Sense; and therefore explode the Belief of all Spi­ritual Beings, both God and Angels. These Men I must at present leave to be contradicted in this Point by all Mankind, considering that it is a Subject too far out of my way, and of so copi­ous a nature, as to admit of a large Discourse by it self for the clearing of it. I take it for granted, that there is another world besides this; and that that other world is Inhabited by Invi­sible Beings, which by God's Permissi­on Interess themselves in the Affairs of this. Which being suppos'd, How can it seem to any Reasonable Men im­possible for such Spirits, what by the subtlety and active Faculties of their Nature, and what by their great Know­ledge of things in Nature and Art, and what by their own long Experi­ence in the world, to do (when God is not pleased to interpose or check them) many things which may seem Miraculous to us, though they be [Page 150] wrought by their own Natural, Ordi­nary, and Limited Power? It is not hard for those Beings to shew Signs and Wonders, by God's Permission, though without the help of his imme­diate Hand. They can by their Na­tural Agility and Power carry a Body from place to place, as the Devil did our Saviour's own Body, with God's leave. They can modulate the Air so as to form a Voice in an Image, as the Angel made Balaam's Ass to speak. They can by the Natural Vigour of their Fa­culties, as easily divide a stone, as a man can cut off the Branch of a Tree. By impressing a new Vigour upon the Animal Spirits, they can help the defect of Sight (when God pleaseth) in one that is casualy blind; though they can­not by any Natural Means help him to Eyes, who was born without them. By the use of many Natural Causes they may do Prodigies, as the Magicians did by their help in Egypt. In which instance, two things are observable: 1. That the Power of those Spirits was restrained. For though they did some things extraordinary, very like unto the Miracles which Moses had done with his Rod; yet when the Miracle of Lice [Page 151] came, the Magicians could not do it; and therefore they confess, That that was the finger of God, Exod. 8. 18, 19. 2. That though they brought some Plagues upon Egypt, they could not remove any, for which reason the King sought unto Moses all along; a plain Sign, that they were evil Angels with whom the Magicians were then in Con­federacy. Hence it appears, That▪ ve­ry wonderful Signs have been shew'd, which look'd like true Miracles, and were in imitation of true Miracles, when they were not Works of an Al­mighty Hand, but the ordinary Effects of that natural, sinite Power that is in Daemons and Devils. To which also we may rationally impute those Operations, for which those Magicians presently af­ter Christ, and others after them were so famous among the Heathens; and more especially those, by which Apollo­nius Tyanaeus got himself such a Name in the World, if the stories told of him be true, which yet is very questionable; nor doth Philostratus himself who relates them, report them all as things cer­tain, though he wrote with a great deal of Partiality. The like is to be said of those pretended Miracles we have been [Page 152] told so much of for several Ages past by Men of the Romish Communion. Supposing some of those things were true, I mean, really done (for he must have a most miraculous Faith, that can believe all, or but one half of them) it will by no means follow that they were Miracles in a proper sense, or Effects purely Supernatural, above the power of all Second Causes. For though no Na­tural Cause in this visible World could do them, yet may they be very well impu­ted to the ordinary Power of created Beings that are invisible; and so they are to be ranked among the workings of. Sa­tan, whose coming is wont to be with Power, and Signs, and Lying Wonders, which God hath many times permitted, partly to prove and exercise the Faith of sincere Professors of Religion, and part­ly to punish those who receive not the love of the T [...]uth, that they might be saved; for which cause God doth send them strong delusions, so that they be­lieve a Lye, 2 Thess. 2

All this makes it evident, that such prete [...]ded Miacles cannot possibly argue the Truth of Idolatry, though actually done by Idolaters, because they are suf­fer'd to be done in way of Judgment up­on [Page 153] perverse and obstinate people. How­ever, this advantage is hereby gained, That those Miracles in appearance (such as they are) do argue the Existence of a God. For if there are any invisible Beings permitted to shew Signs and Won­ders, vigorous in their Actings, and li­mited in their Power, it will follow that there is a Sovereign Being presiding over them, that doth govern and command them, suffer or controul, chain or let them loose, of his own pleasure, and as the Reasons of Providence require it.

But it will be said, That this distincti­on between Miracles in Reality, and Mi­racles in Appearance, is vain, and to no purpose; for who can see the difference of the one from the other by the nature of the things themselves, because on each hand the works may be the same? And it is not enough to say, This was done by the Great Power of God, and that by the Natural Power of Infernal Spirits, when this doth not appear from the quality of the thing produced. As for instance; Moses is said to have turned his Rod into a Serpent, and then the Waters into Blood, and then to have brought up Frogs out of the River; and are not the Magicians said to have done so too? [Page 154] Where then is the difference in the works? And if there be no visible difference in them, how doth it appear that there was a difference in the Powers which pro­duced them? And so why may not all be concluded an Imposture; and conse­quently, no substantial Evidence of the Existence of a God?

This now brings me to the second Enquiry, How we may know and discern a true Miracle from a pretended one?

1. For the clearing whereof, it is, First, granted, That they are not distinguish­able by the visible quality of the works themselves, unless it be in some particular Instances, as the raising of the dead, the giving Eyes to one that was born blind, the multiplication of a few Loaves, and the like. In those cases, the very Na­ture of the Works shew the singer of God; for none but an Almighty Power could produce them; nor could any created sinite Power pretend ever to have done the like. But where one Won­der resembles another, and seems to an­swer another, there

2. Secondly, The difference is disco­verable chiesly from the Necessity and [Page 155] Tendency of the Operations. Indeed their Circumstances and Manner of Pro­duction may go a great way to shew the singer of God, or the working of Sa­tan; but I conceive a true Miracle may be most easily and best distinguish'd from a false one, 1. By the Importance of the Reasons which make a Miracle ne­cessary. 2. By the End and Scope to which it tendeth.

1. First, When there is a true Neces­sity for Miracles. As 1. When a man pretends to come from God with special Authority and Commission for some ex­traordinary Service; in that case a Mira­cle is necessary, to give evidence of his Commission, and that he may be be­lieved. Such extraordinary Power must be back'd with extraordinary Works to attest it; for otherwise people could not have sufficient Arguments to own it; and 'tis inconsistent with the Divine Nature to require mens Submission, and not justify, or set his Seal to that Au­thority which he binds them to submit unto, but to leave them in a state of Guilt, for rejecting that which he gave them not sufficient reasons to receive. 2. Miracles are necessary, when extraor­dinary [Page 156] Alterations are to be made in the world: As, when a solemn, peculiar Form of Divine Worship is to be first set up; or when a peculiar Form, that was esta­blish'd by Miracles, is to be removed and taken down, to make room for a diffe­rent Form. For these things are of such vast importance, that in cases of this nature Men cannot be deceived, with­out running the greatest hazards; and nothing under a Miracle can keep them from being impos'd on. Now, when in these necessary cases Signs and Won­ders are shew'd, we may conclude them to be Divine Miracles; but if there be no need at all of extraordinary Opera­tions upon these accounts, such as are pretended ought to pass for works Dia­bolical; because God is not wont (as they say) to set his Seal to a Blank, nor is it consistent with his Majesty and Wisdom to use his Omnipotence in vain.

2. True Miracles may be distinguish'd from false ones by their scope and ten­dency. The Works of God are Glo­rious, not only for those signatures of Power they carry with them, but also for that admirable Goodness and Wis­dom which is discernable in them all; [Page 157] because they always drive at the best and most important ends. And so we must reckon such Miracles Divine, as tend to confirm Truths which come by Divine Revelation. For as such Truths cannot be consirmed but by the God of Truth that Reveals them; so neither would they be attested by the Father of Lies, the Devil, did it lye in his Power to work a Miracle for the confirmation of them; because nothing is more cross then Truth is, to his interest in the world. 2. Such Miracles are to be accounted Divine, as tend to draw People off from the practice and love of Sin. For as such Miracles are glorious manifestations of the Holiness of the Divine Nature, so they serve to transform the Spirits of Men into the Divine Image; and consequent­ly, can be wrought only by the Finger of God. 3. Such Miracles as tend to preserve the true Worship of One God by acts of singular Love and Reverence, and with an entire Resignation of Heart and Soul; because this is the great end of God's whole Oeconomy; and that which all Impostures hitherto have been intended to Defeat and Bass [...]le. 4. In short; Those are to be looked [Page 158] upon to be true Divine Miracles, which tend to the utter destruction of the Devil's Power and Works. These can­not possibly be thought Diabolical ope­rations; for if Satan rise up against him­self and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end, Mark 3. 26. All these things carry their own light with them, and by that light we may very easily discern and distinguish true Miracles from those Impostures which have gone under that name in all times, both Ancient and Modern.

Next after Moses, Jesus Christ was the only Person publickly owned to have come from God upon an extraor­dinary Message to the world. And in regard he intended to repeal the Mo­saical Ordinances, and instead thereof to enact more Spiritual Laws, it was necessary for him to work Miracles, to shew his Authority for the founding of his Church, as Moses had shewed his for building of the Tabernacle. And these were the noble ends of all Christ's Miracles, to seal the Truth of his Do­ctrines; that how Mysterious soever some of them might seem, they might be believed; for which reason he did no one Miracle before he began to [Page 159] Preach; to reclaim Mankind from all manner of Vice and Immorality, or whatever is contrary to God's Nature, or reproachfel to their own; to establish Piety and Honesty in the world; to teach men to lead Sober, Righteous, and Godly Lives in this world; to di­rect them how to Worship the only True God in Spirit and Truth; and to deliver not only the Bodies, but the Souls of all People from the Tyranny and Power of the Devil, whose busi­ness was to Captivate all Mankind, that they might walk on still in dark­ness and blindness of Heart; which be­ing the reasons and ends of the Lord Jesus his Miracles, we may be sure, that those reasons having been once answer'd, and the ends sufficiently ser­ved, by himself, and his first Disciples, there was no further need of Miracles. And therefore whatever Signs and Won­ders have been shewed (supposing they were really effected) either by some Pagans immediately following the time of Christ, or by some Romanists in lat­ter Ages, they are not to be reckoned Divine Operations, but so many Work­ings of Satan and his Instruments; which are so far from justifying, or [Page 160] giving credit to their Ways and Pro­fessions, that in fact they are a re­proach to them; especially since they have been done in prejudice to that Grave and Holy Religion which the Lord Jesus confirmed; and were so ma­nifestly intended for the promoting and encouragement of Superstition, Vice, and downright Idolatry.

I have now ended this Point con­cerning Miracles, having discoursed the more largely upon it, that at the same time I might demonstrate the Existence of God, and likewise serve the interest of Christianity; the truth whereof un­deniably appears from this single ar­gument, That Jesus Christ confirmed all his Laws and Doctrines by True Miracles. For this being once grant­ed, it must necessarily follow, not only that there is a God, but more­over, that Jesus Christ came from God, and that the Testimony which his Works gave of him, was Divine and Infallible; and consequently, That we are bound at our utmost peril to Be­lieve and Obey him: Which Considera­tion being of such vast moment, I thought my self obliged to bestow the more time and pains in clearing matter of Fact.


THE next extraordinary Occur­rence I mentioned, as a demon­stration of God's Existence, is Prophe­cy; that is, the Foretelling of some Fu­ture Events, which depended on such secret and remote Causes, as none but an Omniscient Being could possibly dis­cern afar off.

That you may understand this mat­ter distinctly and clearly:

1. I do not here by Events mean such things as have come to pass by the necessary and natural Operation of second Causes. For where a thing de­pends upon necessary Causalities, any man that can discover the order, and series, and application of the Causes, may easily foresee and predict the con­sequent; as a skilful Astronomer can foretel Eclipses of the Moon and Sun. For those glorious Creatures are under a constant Law, and their motions are Regular; so that a man who knows their Courses, and by the Uniformity of them, perceives when an Opake Bo­dy [Page 162] will fall between one of those Lu­minaries and our Eyes, can discover long before-hand when the Light will be intercepted, and fail in our Hemis­phere. But by future Events are un­derstood contingencies, or those issues, the Causes whereof are not yet in be­ing; or at least are so occult, remote, and uncertain, that they are not dis­cernible by any limited Understand­ing, in regard that they depend upon the casual concurrence of Second Cau­ses, or upon the Arbitrarious Power of Mens Wills; or upon the uaccountable hits of Fortune; or upon such strange results, as look like so many secret over ruling determinations of Destiny: As, What Great Men will arise Two or Three Ages hence, (if the world shall continue so long)? What Revo­lutions there will be then in States and Empires? What the Conditions of the Church will be? What Wars will hap­pen? What will become of our Poste­rity and of the Fortunes we transmit to them? In short, How the world will go? These things, and the like, are altogether Accidental, and therefore must needs be Uncertain; nor can they come within the reach of finite Beings, any [Page 163] more than the close of the world, or the Day of Judgment can be known, or predicted by us.

2. Secondly, By Foretelling future Events; is meant true and infallible Predi­ction, in contradistinction to Conjecture, or probable Fore-knowledge. There is in all Intellectual Beings a Presaging Power, and the Perception before-hand must be according to the condition and quality of the Cause, from which that Perception springs and is gathered. If the Cause be Necessary and Natural, the Foreknowledge is Certain; but if it be only Casual and Fortuitous, it can amount to no more but a proba­ble Opinion. No Creature, how Intel­ligent soever it be, can of it self infal­libly foresee what Chances and Acci­dents will fall out hereafter; by reason that the immediate Causes are suppos'd as yet not to be Existent, or at least to be a great way off in the dark. Therefore when a contingent Event is clearly Foreseen, and infallibly Predicted at a distance, so that after a long tract of time, the thing, how Casual soever it was, exactly answers the Prediction, we must conclude, That the Being which Foresaw and Foretold it, is of a more [Page 164] Perfect Understanding than any Crea­ture can pretend to.

If then it be made appear, That ma­ny contingent things have long before they happened, been certainly Fore­known, truly Predicted, and at last in Fact have come to pass accordingly, this must be a Demonstration of the Exist­ence of a most Perfect Being, that is, a Deity. For all Human Presaging of accidental Events at a great distance from us, is at best but Guessing, which commonly ends in vast mistakes; so short-sighted are our Understandings, and our capacities so very narrow! And as for those Intellectual Creatures which Inhabit the other world, and traverse up and down in this, though by rea­son of the innate Quickness and Saga­city of their Faculties, the long Expe­rience they have had of Human Affairs, the great Insight they have thereby into all things here below; the Agi­lity of their Nature which enables them to be privy every where to Mens Coun­sels and Actions, and the continual Ob­servations they cannot but make from the Disappointments or Successes of Mens Designs; though, I say, by means [Page 165] of these singular advantages, they are qualified to give, beyond expression, far better Judgment of future Events, espe­cially near at hand, than the Wisest and most Reaching Men on Earth; yet is their Knowledge limited notwithstand­ing: So that without the Assistance of Divine Revelation, their Foresight of Contingencies, especially of such as are remote and do depend upon a series of distant Causes, can be but only Conje­ctural. Hence it was, that those an­cient Southsayers and Augurs among the Heathens, who used the help of De­mons in their manifold Superstitious ways of Prognosticating, were often mistaken, even in very probable cases, and when Events were hard by. And 'tis commonly observed of those old Oracles, who were so much consulted by the Idolatrous Pagans upon any emergencies which seemed difficult, that though those officious deluding Spirits were wont (till Christ's time) to give People Answers out of Holes and Caves, yet, to save Apollo's Credit, they were wont to wrap up those Responses, in equivocating and doubtful Terms, that were capable of various Constru­ctions, as the thing consulted about [Page 166] succeeded or fail'd. Indeed Good An­gels have not deceived Men; and there­fore their foresight must be acknow­ledged to have been better grounded, and of a further and clearer reach. But yet by reason of those finite and (comparatively) scanty measures of Knowledge, which are connatural to all Created Beings, though Exalted and Glorious, to make all their Predictions certain and infallible, they have always, by the necessity of their Nature, stood in need of special Revelation and Com­mission from a Superior Being, whose Prescience touches all intermediate and proximate Causes, and all contingent, probable, possible Events, though never so far removed from created Under­standings. Therefore if in this case matter of fact be true, that any Crea­tures, Men or Angels, have acted after such a Prophetical manner, as to have Foretold things Future, things which Natural Causes did not necessarily pro­duce, things which could not have been foreseen, but through a continued train and succession of Accidents, and through many Circumstances in them­selves dubitable and uncertain; nay, some things which depended, not so [Page 167] much upon Natural or Moral Causes here below, as upon an over-ruling Power, which some have called by the Name of Fate; whereby others under­stand the Absolute Decrees and Plea­sure of Heaven: I say, if things of these kinds have been certainly and infalli­bly Predicted, it is a plain Argument of the Existence of an Omniscient Be­ing, because none but an Omniscient Being, or a Deity could Foreknow them; none but an Almighty Being could Direct and Govern them. And therefore this is claim'd as a peculiar Prerogative of the Deity, to declare the things that are coming, and shall come, Isa. 44. 7. an Argument which the Pro­phet there used to shew, that the Idols which the Apostate Jews Worshipp'd, were not Real Deities.

This then being so evident and unde­niable, the whole matter will turn up­on this main point, Whether there have been at any time such Predictions as these. For the clearing whereof we must refer our selves to those Books which have been all along of so great Autho­rity with Jews and Christians, since they were first compiled; especially to those Books, which we commonly call [Page 168] the Old Testament: Books of such Ve­nerable Antiquity, that the very last of them was written Four hundred years before the Birth of Christ; that is, above Two thousand years ago; and the first of them contains the most Ancient Hi­story that is in the World; and is at least Three thousand two hundred years old. Though in several other Writings, which are but of vulgar note, we meet with divers Accounts of Prophecies; yet because there are the most Ancient, the most Authentick, and are believed to have been penned by Prophets them­selves, I shall take notice only of such as we find in them; considering those Writers now, not as Men divinely in­spired, but as fair Historians only; the Credit whereof, there is no sober, mo­dest man, but will be ashamed to deny them.

Now here I might sill a large Volume, were I minded to write a particular Ac­count of the most Intelligible Predictions we find throughout the Scriptures, and of the Accomplishment of them. But 'twill be enough for me to take notice only of Three sorts.

  • 1. Such as relate to the Great, An­cient Empires.
  • [Page 169]2. Such as relate to Jesus Christ.
  • 3. Such as relate to some Memora­ble and Remarkable Events after his de­parture out of the world.

1. First, Such Predictions as relate to the Great, Ancient Empires. Of which, the Assyrian Monarchy was the First; and long before the Translation of it to the Medes and Persians, Cyrus, who was designed to translate it, was mention'd by name, as God's Shepherd and Anointed, by Isaiah; a Prophet of the Jews, who told them before hand what great things God would do for Cyrus, and that Cyrus would perform all God's pleasure, Isa. 44, 45. Yet this was many years before ever Cyrus was born; Two hundred and ten years, saith Josephus; who adds, That Cyrus havingJos. Antiq. lib. 1. c. 1. read that Ancient Prophecy concerning him, to express his Thankfulness to God, gave the Jews leave to return home out of their Captivity, and to rebuild God's Temple at jerusalem; towards which he promised his own assistance.

The Jews had then been Captives at Babylon about Seventy years; which sore Judgment had been literally foretold them, together with the determinate [Page 170] Time of it, by the Prophet Jeremy, Jer. 25. 11. This whole land shall be a desola­tion, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.

By the way let me observe, That Jere­my began his Prophecying in the Thir­teenth year of that good Prince Josiah, King of Judah: And that Josiah by name had been foretold in the Reign of Jeroboam, as we find, 1 Kings 13. 2. And that Pro­phecy was by certain computation given about Three hundred and fifty years be­fore the days of Josiah.

But to go on: Towards the end of the Captivity at Babylon, Daniel interpreted Nebuchadnezzar's Dream concerning the Great Image, the Head whereof was of fine Gold, the Breast and Arms of Silver, the Belly and Thighs of Brass, the Legs of Iron, and the Feet part of Iron, and part of Clay. This Vision was a Repre­sentation of the Four Famous Empires, as we see by Daniel's own Exposition, Dan. 2. The First Empire was that then in being, the Babylonish; represented by an Head of Gold, because it was the most Considerable and Glorious of all the Four. As to the Three next, the Vision was Prophetical; intended to shew the seve­ral [Page 171] Successions of them; and that the Lat­ter would still be inferior to the Former in Splendor and Dignity. Whereas there­fore the Babylonish Empire was of Gold; the Second was to be of Silver; and that was the Persian Empire; represented by Two Arms, because it consisted of Two great People, the Persians and Medes, that were to be united together into one State; and that under Cyrus, who would be related to both Nations; to the Medes by the Mother's side, and to the Persians by his Father's. By the Third Kingdom is meant the Macedonian, or Grecian Em­pire, that was to be erected by Alexander the Great, upon his Signal Victories over the Persians. This was represented by a Brazen Belly and Thighs, because (as St. Jerome thinks) Brass, of all Metals giving the greatest sound, was sit to set forth the Extraordinary Fame which would be spread over the world, not only of the Greeks Power and Fortune, but of their Eloquence also. The Roman Em­pire was to be the Fourth; and that was represented by Legs of Iron; because, as Iron breaketh in pieces, and subdueth all things; so was the Roman Power to break and subdue all the Principalities which Alexander left to his Commanders, and [Page 172] their Successors; and so would possess it self of all the Riches and Glory of the Three former Empires. Nevertheless, how strong soever the Roman Power was to be at the first founding of that Empire, in process of time it would be impaired, weakned, and debased, like Iron mingled with Mire and Clay. Which St. Jerome observes was, when the strength of Rome was so wasted by their long Wars, Fo­raneous and Civil, that they were for­ced upon many Occasions to call in the Aid of Barbarous, Exotick People, which mixing themselves with the Old Roman Blood, gave it an alloy, so that they lost great degrees of their Ancient Strength and Honour.

This Succession of the Empires thus predicted in the Second Chapter of Da­niel's Prophecy, we sind foretold again in some other places, under other Repre­sentations; but I instance in this only, because it is most obvious to every ordi­nary Understanding. And now, who­ever will take the pleasure to examine some Humane Writers from Herodotus down to Justin, the Historian, may with infinite Satifaction find, how exactly these Predictions were fulfilled: 1. By Cy­rus's getting the Power out of the hands [Page 173] of the Babylonians; then by Alexander's getting it out of the hands of the Per­sians; and then by the Romans wresting it out of the hands of Alexander's Suc­cessors; and yet between the delivering, and the fulfilling of Daniel's Prophecy, there passed a Flux of about Five hun­dred years; which doth manifestly argue the Existence of God, who alone could at such a distance of time so infallibly and particularly foresee and predict E­vents, that were in themselves so con­tingent and uncertan. That it looks like an History, rather than a Prediction. To which purpose St. Jerome tells us of that great Blasphemer of Christ, and his Religion, Porphyry, that reading theProem. in Dan. Book of Daniel, and finding how ex­actly consonant the Events were to the Prophecy, he could not but acknowledge the truth of the account; but to evade the force of those Arguments which the Christians drew thence, he betook him­self to this senseless and absurd Pretence, that the Book was not a Prediction written by Daniel, but rather a Nar­rative of things that were done long af­ter Daniel's time, and written by some body else in the days of Antiochus Epi­phanes.

[Page 174]2. There is another sort of Predictions which relate peculiarly to Jesus Christ; whom Daniel called before-hand, Messiah the Prince, Dan. 9. 25. Whereupon a ve­ryMr. Mead, B. 3. p. 861. Learned Writer observes, That there is no other place of Scripture, whence the Church of Israel did or could ascribe the Name of Christ and Messiah unto him they looked for, but only this of Daniel. For there is no other Prophecy in all the Old Testament besides this, where that Name is directly given him, but only by way of Type; which makes it unquestionable, that the Jews under­stood this Prophecy of that Great and Eminent Person, whose coming into the World, together with all the remarkable Circumstances which attended his Life and Death, were long before so particu­larly foretold by several Prophets, that those Predictions are not capable of be­ing fairly applied to any other Person; what arts soever some Jews, and other misguided Men have used to wrest them another way. That he was to be of the Seed of a Woman; or that he was to appear in the Nature, not of Angels, but Men. That of all Mankind he was to spring from the Loins of Abraham. That of Abraham's Posterity, he was to de­scend [Page 175] only from Isaac. That of all Isaac's Generation, he was to be of the Tribe of Judah. That of all that Tribe, he was to be of the House and Lineage of David. That a Virgin of David's Lineage was to conceive and bear him. That Beth­lehem was to be the place of his Nati­vity. That he was to be a Prophet like unto Moses, yet much above him. That he was to do Miracles. That he was to Preach good Tidings to the meek, and to bind up the broken-hearted. That he was to be a Man of Sorrows, and ac­quainted with Grief. That he was to be despised and rejected of Men. That one of his own Familiars, who should eat of his Bread, would lift up his Heel against him. That he should be sold for thirty pieces of Silver. That he should be led to the Slaughter like a Lamb. That he should be numbred with the Transgressors. That his Garments should be divided, and Lots cast upon his Vesture. That Vinegar should be gi­ven him to drink. That in the midst of his Sufferings he should be scoffed at, and reviled. That he should make In­tercession for Trangressors. That for the Sins of People he should be smitten. That he should make his Grave with the Rich. [Page 176] That not one of his Bones should be bro­ken: And that his Soul should not be left in Hell, nor his Body suffer'd to see Corruption. These things were foretold of Jesus Christ; and taking them altoge­ther in a sum, it is impossible for an Insi­del, with any colour of Reason to apply them to any other but Jesus Christ only.

But one of the most remarkable things, is, That the time of Christ's appearing in the World was so plainly foretold by some of the Prophets, that the Learned Jews found by their Calculations, that about the time when Jesus Christ was born, the promised Messiah was to come. And hence it was, that at that Juncture they were all full of Expectations of him. Nor is it at all questionable, but the time so agreeing with the Predicti­ons, they would joyfully and unani­mously have received Jesus Christ as the Messiah, had not his coming been in that mean and obscure Condition, which was so great a surprize to those People who expected the Messiah would have been like a David, or Solomon, to have gone in and out before them with all possible Pomp, Splendor, and Magnificence.

The Prophet Haggai mentioned the time of his Appearance more largely, [Page 177] Hag. 2. 7, 9. The Substance of which Prediction was, That the desire of all Nations (that is, the Messiah or Shiloh) should come while the Temple which was then a building, continued and was stand­ing; and that the Glory of that latter House should be greater than the Glory of the former, which had been at so vast an Expence, erected and finished by King Solomon. Now this was fulfilled meerly by Christ's constant presence at that Temple, some years before the De­struction of it by the Romans. For in respect of the Structure, and external Glory of it, it fell so very short of the first, that when the ancient Men who had seen the first House, saw the Foun­dations of the second, They wept with a loud voice, as Ezra tells us, Ezra 3. 12. And besides, the Jewish Rabbins confess, that five things were wanting to this Temple, which the former was honour­ed with as so many Signs of the peculiar Presence of God's Majesty at it. 1. The Urim and Thummim, or those Stones up­on the Breast-plate of the High Priest, whereby God was wont to reveal his mind. 2. The Ark of the Covenant; from which the King and the High Priest did sometimes receive answers from God [Page 178] by a clear and audible Voice. 3. The Fire that was wont to fall from Heaven, to devour the Sacrifice upon the Altar. 4. The Shekinah, or Divine Power, that was signified sometimes by the Pillar of a Cloud, and by the Holy Oyl, wherewith the King and High Priest were wont to be anointed. And 5. the Spirit of Prophecy. These glorious things being wanting at the second Temple, whence could that great Glory predicted by Haggai proceed, but from the Presence of Jesus Christ? One that was the Brightness of his Fa­ther's Glory, and the Glory of his People Israel. One that was the true Urim and Thummim, that revealed his Father's Will plainly to the World. One that was the typified Ark of the Covenant, the Propitiatory by his own Blood. One that Baptized with the Holy Ghost, and with Fire; the true Fire from Heaven, where of the other was but a typical Repre­sentation. And one who received not the Spirit by measure, but was anointed with the Oyl of gladness above his Fel­lows?

But the Prophet Daniel pointed out the time of his coming after a more close and precise manner, Dan. 9. 24, 25, 26, 27. Seventy weeks are determined upon thy [Page 179] people, and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy. Know therefore, and under­stand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jeru­salem, unto the Messiah the prince, shall be seven weeks; and threescore and two weeks, (after that) the street shall be built a­gain, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself; and the people of the prince that shall come, shall destroy the city, and the san­ctuary, and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war deso­lations are determined. And he shall con­firm the covenant with many for one week; and in the midst of the week he shall cause the oblation and sacrifice to cease; and for the overspreading of abominations, he shall make it desolate, even until the con­summation, and that determined shall be poured out upon the desolate. As to the exposition of this Prophecy, all Writers are agreed, that according to the lan­guage and custom of the Jews, by a week is understood not seven days, but [Page 180] seven years; that is, seventy times seven years, or four hundred and ninety years in all. And the plain sense of the Pre­diction may be comprised within these Observations, as far as it concerns my present purpose.

1. First, That from the second build­ing of the Temple and City of Jerusa­lem, to the last destruction of both, there was alotted the space of four hundred and ninety years, to be computed from the time of the publication of an Edict by some Persian King for this second Building.

2. That within the compass of those four hundred and ninety years, Sin should be expiated; true, substantial Righ­teousness, grounded upon eternal Reasons, should be preached; the old Prophecies should be fulfilled; Messiah the Prince should be cut off, and afterwards instated in his everlasting Kingdom. The rest of the Prediction relates to the destruction of Jerusalem, of which I shall take no­tice by and by. Thus much of it is con­cerning the Advent, Life, Death, and Un­ction of the Messiah.

Now to lay aside the various, perplex­ing Accounts given by inquisitive men, touching the exact Impletion of every [Page 181] part of this Prophecy, these two things are very evident:

1. First, That the rebuilding, and fi­nal devastation of the Holy Temple and City, was according to the time alotted, the seventy weeks of years. For though the Jews were permitted by Cyrus to re­turn into their Land out of their Captivi­ty, and to begin the restoration of the Temple, yet the great Edict, the success­ful Commandment for the restoring and building Jerusalem, was given by that Persian King, called Darius Nothus, Ez­ra 6. And from the third year of his Reign, when the work of the Temple (by the incitement of Haggai and Zachary renewed the year before) was now con­firmed by a new Edict from the King to be finished, unto the destruction of Jeru­salem by Titus, are exactly four hundred and ninety years; that is, seventy weeks of years fully complete, as a LearnedMede. B. 3. pag. 858, 859. Writer hath computed the time to my hands.

2. Secondly, It is most evident, that before the expiration of these four hun­dred and ninety years, while the Temple and City of Jerusalem were yet standing, Jesus Christ was manifested in the flesh; that he fulfilled all Righteousness in his [Page 182] own Person, and taught all others to live godly, righteously, and soberly in this present world; that he offer'd up him­self upon the Cross, a Sacrifice and Pro­pitiation for the Sins of all men; that to him all the Prophets did bear witness, and in him their Prophecies did terminate; and that upon his Resurrection and Ascen­sion, he was exalted unto the right hand of God, and all Power was given him in Heaven and in Earth, according to Daniel's Prediction.

And now to return to our Argument, How was it possible for Daniel, or for any other man, to have foretold these Events so exactly, and so long before, without immediate Revelation from a Divine, Omniscient Being, who foresaw, nay, fore-appointed the whole series and course of these things from the beginning to the end? And consequently, How is it pos­sible for any man of common reason or sense, to question the Existence of such a Being, for these things could not depend upon any natural Causes. No, the Ad­vent, Sufferings, and Glorifying of the Messiah, were purely the result of a Di­vine Decree; and therefore could not have been predicted or foreseen, but by that Divine Being who had decreed all; and [Page 183] by whose determinate Counsel and Fore­knowledge Jesus Christ was delivered to the Jews, as St. Peter told them, Acts 2. 23.

3. The like is to be said of those other Predictions, which relate to some remarkable and memorable Events after Christ's departure out of the world, and they were chiefly these three. 1. The De­struction of Jerusalem. 2. The Propaga­tion of the Christian Faith. And 3dly, the dispersed and reproachful Condition of the Jews.

1. As Daniel foretold the Desolations that would come upon Jerusalem, so did the Messiah himself foretel, that there should not be left one stone of the temple upon another, which should not be thrown down, Matth. 24. 2. And a little further he said, When ye shall see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the pro­phet, stand in (or about) the holy place, let them which be in Judea, fly to the moun­tains, ver. 15, 16. This, by the way, shews that the computation of Daniel's seventy weeks, is to be carried on to the time of Jerusalem's destruction; for there the four hundred and ninety years end, and not before; as we see by our Saviour's re­ferring to that Prediction, when he spake [Page 184] of that Desolation. These Predictions were accomplish'd about forty years after the Messiah's Crucifixion, and in that Jun­cture the several parts of those Predicti­ons were answer'd to the full. Then the Jews saw the abomination of Desolation which Daniel had spoken of, meaning the Roman, Heathen Armies, with the Heathen Figures, in their Military Banners, ex­panded about the Holy City. Then were the people of the Prince (that is, their Commander Titus) come to destroy the City and the Sanctuary. Then did Titus his Forces over-run the Land of Judoea like a Flood, and make it desolate. Then was the Temple laid waste, and the Ob­lations and Sacrifices which were wont to be in it, were made to cease. And then was the Consummation which Daniel foretold, or the End which was determi­ned upon the Desolate; namely, the utter overthrow of their whole Government both in Church and State; and then too was the Desolation foretold by Jesus Christ, not one stone left upon another, neither in the City of Jerusalem; for, as Josephus acknowledgeth, it was razed to the Foundations, and laid even with the Ground: Nor yet in the Temple; for, as our Learned Paraphrast observes out of [Page 185] Scaliger, as a full Completion of our Sa­viour's Prophecy, the very Foundations of the Temple were torn up by Turnus Ru­fus with a Plow-share, so that no part of it Under-ground was left undissolved; not one stone left upon another. How could a clearer Argument be expected than that was, of the Existence of an All-seeing, an All-powerful and Righteous God, who weighed the Sins of an hardned People, and by his determinate Counsel and Fore­knowledge, made their Punishment then as plain as their Guilt had been, when with wicked hands they crucified the Lord of Life, and wish'd that his Blood might be upon them, and upon their Children.

2. But, Secondly, Besides these Predi­ctions which concern'd them, and were fulfilled in their Sufferings, there were others which had references to the Pro­pagation of Christ's Religion. Christ himself had foretold, That when he should be lifted up from the earth, he would draw all men unto him, Joh. 12. 32. And near Two thousand years before that time, the Patriarch Jacob presignified on his Death-bed, That when Shilo should come, to him the gathering of the people should be, Gen. 49. 10. which was not possible for [Page 186] Jacob, at such a vast distance of time to say, or foresee of himself; no more than 'twas possible for the Prophets in after­times, without Revelation from an All­knowing Being, to predict, as they did, That all kings should fall down before him; That all nations should do him service; That he should stand for the people; That to him the Gentiles should seek; That from the rising up of the sun to the going down of the same, his name should be great among the Gentiles; That the Heathen should be for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession. All which Predi­ctions proved in the Event most evident­ly true; notoriety of fact shews it; and yet the exact impletion of these Prophe­cies could never have been foreknown, as it was, but by a Supreme Numen, who knoweth all things; considering how un­likely it was, as things stood, for Christia­nity to find universal success and enter­tainment in the world; because it was so opposite to mens Lusts and Pleasures; the Jews were so hardned against it; the Pa­gan Religion, which Christianity was in­tended to destroy, was so spread over the Gentile Nations, and so fixt by Laws: Princes were so set against it; the Devil used such various methods to stop its pro­gress; [Page 187] and the Preachers of it were of themselves so weak, and unable to carry it over the world; that without the Assi­stance of a Divine Power, it could not have prevailed over the hearts of people so universally, and in such a conquering manner, notwithstanding all Obstacles which were in the way. But herein ap­peared the wonderful Conduct of Divine Providence, That the Government of the Jews being quite dissolved upon the de­struction of Jerusalem, the Scepter then being utterly departed from Judah, and the Lawgiver from between his feet, Shi­loh reigned with triumph and glory. As the Jews lost ground, so Christ, whom they had crucified, got it; and a great deal more: So that in a very little time, not only multitudes of the Jewish Nation were Converts to Christianity, but great Armies of People in the Gentile world, and in the most Barbarous Countries, were brought in obedience to Christ's Faith. And hereby the Ends of God's Providence were served by the Romans themselves; first by being his Instruments to captivate and subdue the wicked Jews; and then by being themselves subdued to Jesus Christ; so that where-ever the Roman Eagles flew, there Christ was a Conquerer by his Holy Spirit.

[Page 188]3. To which let me add, Thirdly, this one Observation more, concerning those Predictions which relate to the Dispersed and Reproachful Condition of the Jews since the Overthrow of their City and Government. As the Old Prophets had told those People long before, what a sad, miserable Condition they would bring themselves to at last; so Christ had fore­told them in express terms, That upon the treading down of Jerusalem, they should be led away captive into all nations, Luk. 21. 24. A Prediction which was literaly ful­filled as soon as they were conquer'd by Titus his Army. Many thousands of them were carried away, divided, and scatter'd up and down in the world; where their wretched Posterity inherit their Ancestors Curse to this day; leading still a forlorn sort of life; Vagabonds into all parts, and hated where-ever they go. An Avenging Hand from above doth still pursue them; and every day the world sees the Predi­ctions concerning them more and more fulfilled: Which is, as it were, an Ocular Evidence, as well of the Truth of Christi­anity, as of the Existence of a Just God.

I use this Argument the rather, because it is a kind of sensible proof of a Deity; and not of so remote a Nature as the rest [Page 189] are. Though it be apparent to Reason, that there must be a First Cause of all things; though the common notions and impressions we have in our Nature shew, who and what that First Cause is; though Miracles are undeniably convincing; and Predictions, when accurately fulfilled, de­monstratively infer the Existence of a Be­ing that foresees all Events, though at the greatest distance; yet because those Ob­servations are most operative, which most nearly affect men, I urge this Observation, touching the Jews Punishment, as being a thing verified by our own Experience. Miracles we have not seen; but this Re­markable Judgment against the Jews we see daily; and therein we see the plain ac­complishment of some Predictions which we know were written some considerable time before the Events happned; so that we may well wonder, how there can be an Atheist, as long as there is a Jew living in the world. To this purpose, a Learned and Judicious Prelate of our Church, who hath solidly written upon the great Sub­ject now under my hand, expresseth his thoughts in these words, with which I shall conclude this present Point. ThereBishop Wil­kins's Nat. Rel. p. 89. is (saith he) one particular, which to me seemeth very considerable for the proof of [Page 190] a Deity, though but little notice of it be taken by others; and that is, The State of the Jewish Nation, who for these 1600 years have been driven out of their own Countrey, having now no particular place of abode belonging to them as a Nation; but are scatter'd and dispersed over all the habitable world, hated and despised where­ever they are permitted to dwell; very frequently persecuted, impoverish'd, ba­nish'd, murder'd in vast multitudes: And notwithstanding all this, they are not yet so mixt and blended with other Nations, as to be lost among them; but are still kept up a distinct People; there being no Instance like this in any Story; as if they were intended for a standing Memorial and Example to the world, of the Divine Power and Vengeance. To me it seemeth, among Rational Arguments, one of the plainest, not only for the Proof of a Deity, and a Just Providence, in pursuing that Nation with such Exemplary Vengeance; but likewise for the Authority of Scrip­ture, and the Truth of the Christian Re­ligion.


HItherto I have shewed the Existence of a Supreme Being, that is Eternal, Independent, Self-existing, the Author of our common Nature, Omnipotent, Om­niscient; all which Characters are inclu­ded in the general Notion of a Deity; or a Being that is Eminently and Absolutely Perfect. I proceed next to some other Considerations, which argue a Being that is infinite in Wisdom, Goodness, Be­nignity, as well as Power.

In order thereunto, let us now begin to take a view of that which was proposed as the Fourth great Head of this Dis­course; I mean, the Admirable Frame and State of the Universe. For whoever will seriously reflect upon those various appearances which are in this visible world, must be the most sensless and stu­pid thing in it, if after all the bright ma­nifestations of a Deity that are every where discoverable, he can at last permit himself to say in his heart, There is no God. God hath not left himself without witness, saith St. Paul, Acts 14. 17. No, that which may be known of God is manifest to us; [Page 192] for God hath shewed it unto us. For the in­visible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eter­nal power and Godhead, Rom. 1. 19. 20.

Here then we meet with Eight Obser­vable, which are very fit in their turns to fall under our contemplation.

1. The excellent Order into which the several parts of the Universe are digested.

2. The great Beauty that appears throughout the world.

3. The wonderful Usefulness that is in all the branches of the Creation.

4. The curious and exquisite Structure of them for the Uses and Ends to which they serve.

5. The constant Regularity of them in their respective Operations.

6. The ample Provision that is made for the good of Creatures, especially Mankind.

7. The Resemblances of Knowledge and Wisdom in the Operations of things Irrational.

8. The Divine Frame of our own Ra­tional Nature. O Lord, how glorious are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all; the earth and heavens are full of thy [Page 193] riches; the various testimonies of thy great­ness, and inexhaustible benignity.

1. First, We may observe the excellent Order into which the several parts of the Universe are digested. This Order is seen:

  • 1. In the commodious Situation and Position to which they are deter­mined.
  • 2. In the near Relation of them to each other, and Dependance on each other.
  • 3. In the Permanency of them in that State and condition wherein they have been placed.

1. As there are several Ranks and Clas­ses of Creatures, so is every Rank determined to its due and proper place. That part of the world we stand in immediate need of, is the Earth; and that is placed in the middle of the world, that it may receive influence from all the ambient parts of the Universe, to help its Fertility; and the distance of it from the Coelestial Bodies is so commodi­ous, that its Productions are not apt to [Page 194] be destroyed by excesses of Heat or Cold, which otherwise would unavoidably fol­low were the distance nearer or more re­mote. It is the proper place for man in this life. For 'tis the Theatre we are to Act on, and the Magazine that yields us the Stores we live by; and therefore 'tis near at hand, hard by all our Necessi­ties, and richly furnish'd with Plants, Fruits, Meats, Entertainments of all sorts; so that 'tis but going out of doors, and industrious People may gather their Pro­vision, and whatever they can modestly desire, either to supply their Wants, or to afford them Pleasures. And lest we should drop down suddenly, for want of Breath, with our Meats between our Teeth, the Air, which serves for Digesti­on and Respiration, is, I cannot so well say in our Neighbourhood, as in our Nostrils. An Atmosphere so appositely plac'd, and so adapted to the gross contexture of our out­ward Senses, that it is infinitely more pro­per for sensitive Creatures, than the Fine, Unmixt Aether that is at such a distance from us. Those fluid Bodies the Waters, are in their proper place too, treasured up in concave Receptacles and Chanels, and there ready at hand to quench the Thirst [Page 195] of every Animal; and if Men will be wanton, to serve their Sensualities also, without endangering their safety by in­ordinate, sweeping Inundations. The Heavens are to give light and warmth to all Sublunary Creatures, and therefore the provident Hand which formed them, hath set them very remote; that those great and glorious Luminaries may cast their Influences over all the World; and withal secure all things living from those Scorchings and Deaths, to which their Vicinity would otherwise have unavoid­ably exposed them. In short, all things are situate where they should be; nor could the wisest Counsel have placed them better, supposing the wisest Being to have had the disposal and ordering of them.

2. The excellent Order of Creatures is seen in the near Relation of them to each other, and Dependance on each other. Where I shall speak only of that general and common Reference, which the seve­ral kinds of Creatures, thus situated and disposed, do bear to one another. As for the usefulness of particular Branches of the Creation, it will fall under our [Page 196] eye in its due place. At present I am to take notice of that Relation and Conne­ction, that Respect and Cognation which is between the Species and Sorts of things which make up this great Frame and Sy­stem of Nature. For in the great Vo­lume of the Creation there is a noble De­sign carried on, this Creature having a respect to that, and that hanging upon the other, like Premises and Consequents in a well-compos'd Book; so that if one part be taken away, not only the Beau­ty, but the Purpose of the whole is lost. Were all Sensitive Creatures destroyed, what would the Light of the Sun be to a blind World? Were the Earth annihila­ted, what would the sweet Influences of the Pleiades signify? Or, were but the Fowls, the Cattel, the Fruits of the Earth removed, what would become of Man, that pretends to be the little Lord of all, and yet is fain to be a Dependant upon these poor Creatures, to afford him Pro­vision daily, and to furnish out his Table? Some conceive, that the only great De­sign of Nature is, to support Man; which though I think is too great a Vanity to imagine, yet supposing it were so, how many Creatures are there to be served, [Page 197] before it can come to his turn? I will hear the heavens (saith the Divine Being) and the heavens shall hear the earth, and the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oyl, and they shall hear Jezreel, Hos. 2. 21, 22. Where we have a Summary Description of the great Order of Nature as things are cast into a State of Relati­on and Correspondence, set forth as if they cried to each other, and heard each other, to denote their mutual Subservi­ency and Dependance. Thus the Stars by their attractive Beams prepare and en­rich the Clouds; the Clouds drop down fatness, that fatness moistens the Surface, and supplies the Bowels of the Earth; that Moisture increaseth and invigorates those active Particles within, which are the Principles of Vegetation; those Prin­ciples carry the spiritous, vital Juice to every Tree and Plant; that Juice passing through many Nervous Ducts and Con­veyances produce Germination; those Germations cover Mountain and Valley with a fresh Verdure; and by these vari­ous means the Earth receives yearly a kind of new Life; every Species upon it is propagated, every living Individual is sed and cherish'd, and Man and Beast [Page 198] are abundantly provided for a-new, af­ter all the vast Consumptions and Ex­pences of Nature the year before. There is a Series and Connexion of Causes, which act upon each other, the superior Cause still having a respect to the Powers of that which is the next in Subordina­tion; and all shew the wonderful Wis­dom and Goodness of the Supreme Cause, in thus suiting and adapting the Operations of his Creatures, according to the necessities of the several Branches of his Creation.

And as there is this extrinsecal Refe­rence born by one Creature to another; so is there in every one of them an in­trinsick Faculty and Disposition, which bears respect to the Operations and Pro­ductions of those external Causes. In all Animals there are eager Appetites, as Hunger and Thirst, which stimulate and excite them every day to Eat and Drink of Natures Bounty. In all Vegetables there are spreading Roots, fibrous Recep­tacles, with open, greedy, capacious Ori­fices, to entertain, digest, and send up that animating Sap, which is ministred by the restless Principles of Vegetation. In [Page 199] the Bowels of the Earth are hid the mul­tifarious Seeds of Life, prepared for a new assistance of Salts, Nitre, and the like Supplies, to quicken, actuate, and render them Prolisick. Those quickning Re­cruits wait for Distillations from above, to convey them down into their Apart­ments; and those Distillations are various, according to the Quality and Temper of the Seasons; and as the Sun and Stars act by their Influences in the Air, where the great Treasures are annually made ready by various Motions and Secretions, and then shed plenteously abroad in vari­ety of Forms and Modifications; as, Hail, Snow, Rains, or Dews. Thus each Cause bears a Correspondence and Relation to the Faculties and Dispositions of that which is Subordinate; and those Faculties bear a Reciprocal Correspondence to the Power and Agency of the next Superior One. There is such an orderly Conne­ction, such a close harmonious Confede­racy between the several Parts of the World, as they are placed and situate; that as they all severally depend upon each other for their respective Operations, so all jointly conspire to the Preservation and Maintenance of the whole; which [Page 200] evidently shews, That it could not be blind Fate or Fortune that linked together the Parts of the Universe into such an admirable League, such an amicable State of Subserviency and Assistance; but a most Wise and Beneficent Agent, that from the beginning consulted and provided for the Good of all his Creatures, and ac­cordingly sitted their Powers to that great end. For those Irrational Beings, the glittering Lamps of Heaven, the Air and Earth, Vegetables and Creatures, that are meerly sensitive, cannot be suppos'd to understand the Ends and Scope, the Reasons and Purposes of their Operations. They are not the effects of any Delibera­ration, or choice of their own, but the consequents of Necessity; and therefore must be brought about by the directing Hand and Will of a God of Incomprehen­sive Power, of Wisdom, that they might bear witness of his Being and Providence, and excite all Mankind to praise and glo­rigy the adorable Perfections of his Na­ture.

3. The excellent Order of Creatures is seen in the Permanency of them in that State and Condition in which they have [Page 201] been placed. This Permanency consisteth in two things: 1. First, In the entire con­tinuance of their Natures. The constituent, principal Substances of the Universe are still the same they ever were since their first Formation, in Number, Measure, and Weight. Nothing of their Beauty is saded by Age, nothing of Matter worn away by Motion, no Parts lost quite by Accident, nor any one Species annihilated by outward Violence, or inward Insir­mity and Decay. Though Individuals upon the Terraqueous Globe dye daily, or are cut off, lest the Earth we inha­bit and live upon, and have our Food by, should be over-stock'd, yet all sorts and kinds of Beings remain, from the glorious Furniture of the Firmament, to the meanest Species of Flies and Worms. All Vegetables propagate, as in the be­ginning, the diversity of Sexes, Male, and Female, in all Animals continues on; Men and Beasts increase and multiply, and perform all their Natural Offices, ever since the primordial Benediction. But lest these things should be look'd upon as Productions of Course, spring­ing meerly from the Principles and Energy of Plastick Nature, what think [Page 202] we of the Permanent Concinnity and State of the Air, whose Salubrious Blasts, Transparency, proper Motions, and all other uses it was intended for, do still hold on, notwithstanding all Nusances and Infections, all Vicislitudes and Al­terations, and all those Disturbances, Conflicts, and Wars, from contrary jar­ring Qualities which have been in it, since its first Expansion? What can we think of the Caelestial Host, that for these Six thousand Years have been eve­ry minute casting and dispersing their enlivening Beams over the whole World? What can we think of the Sun in par­ticular, that during such a long Tract and Succession of Ages, has been every moment at so vast an Expence of Light and Heat, its Body still continuing un­impaired, and its Powers neither wast­ed nor disabled? How could all this Con­servation be without the help of an Al­mighty provident Hand, that does by a sort of new Creation, sustain and sup­ply daily the several Branches of the Universe; and did at first from them all so perfect in their Kinds, and in order to their particular Ends, and for the general Good of the whole; that there [Page 203] is no mending the Creation; no altering the Figure, Posture, Number, or Frame of the Integral Parts of it; no adding any new Species, or destroying any old ones, without disorder and detriment to the great Compages?

Secondly, The permanent state of things is discernable, as by the continu­ance of their Natures, so by the constant tenor of their Operations and Motions; witness (for all) those bright, radiant Bo­dies over our heads, whose circular Tra­vels are so exactly periodical, and their Influences so constant, that they plainly shew there is a God above, who hath given them a Law which cannot be bro­ken. By the various Aspects and Motions of the Moon, the melancholy Solitudes of the Night are abated; the growth of Vegetables is assisted; the increase of Ani­rnals is promoted; Dews fall to help and cherish the seminal Powers of the Earth; and (besides many other advantages) the stowings and ebbings of the Sea are regu­lated, and thereby the Waters are kept from putrefaction, and the innumerable multitude of Fishes are preserved. And how comes it to pass, but by the Decree [Page 204] of a Wise and Beneficent Being over all, that these Influences are so constant, and these Motions are so stated and certain, that the Monthly Aspects, and Annual Revolutions and Courses of the Moon are still the very same; and all this, through a thin fluid Vehicle in which it swims? The other Planets, how differently soever they move, yet amidst that Variety, their Rowlings about have all along to this day so punctually answer'd their determinate Periods, that they carry with them mani­fest Marks of an Unerring Hand that doth direct and govern them; and keeps the parts of them from those Dissipations, which otherwise the Rapidity of their Motion would expose them to, in their sine unresisting Aether. All other Stars (the Sun excepted) are said to be fixt; not that they do not move at all, but be­cause their daily Motion is still directly forward in the same Circle, without any particular Retrograde creepings, and with­out those Aberrations and Deflexions, sometimes Northward, and sometimes Southward, which the seven wandering Stars observe. Now if, according to the old Opinion, these great Bodies be sup­pos'd to be fastned, like so many Nails, in [Page 205] Pellucid, but Solid Spheres, it is a stupen­dious thing to consider, how such vast, cumbersom Machines should be able to turn about so exactly, and in such a con­stant, even course, Night and Day, with­out an Almighty Power that did first set them on Motion, and doth still superin­tend and steer them. But if they be sup­pos'd to rowl in a free, open Aether, it is impossible to conceive how so many Pendulous Bodies, of such unmeasurable magnitude, so briskly moving in their respective Spaces without the least rub to stop or hinder them, should not clash, or cross, or interfere with one another, but still keep at the same di­stances, for ought we know, to an hair's breadth, and perform all their Courses with equability and constancy to an exact point; all this is beyond the reach of Human Reason to con­ceive, unless it be granted, that there is a Supreme, Over-ruling Being, who did at first set them into a determinate order, and hath ever since preserv'd them in that order, maintaining, go­verning, regulating, and directing their motions by his own Infinite Power, and most Watchful Providence.

[Page 206]But to speak more particularly of that Glorious Luminary, which every day rejoiceth as a Giant to run its course, to visit the whole world, and to invi­gorate and cherish all things here be­low with lively Emanations: What can we think of his Diurnal Motion, where­by that Immense Creature daily takes his Round, and absolves his Course with­in the space of 24 hours; and this, not only with far greater celerity, than that of the swiftest Arrow from the strongest Bow; and moreover with such exact order, and constancy, that for these Six thousand years his daily Re­volution has been neither quicker, nor slower by one minute; twice only ex­cepted, when at the Special Command of his Maker he was arrested in his Race, and was made one day to stand still, and another day to go backward Ten Degrees? Besides this Diurnal Race from East to West, which causes the vicissitude of Day and Night, what think we of the Sun's Annual Progress towards the Northern, and then off again towards the Southern Tropick, in an Oblique Circle they call the Zo­diack, [Page 207] under Twelve Signs, or Constel­lations, each whereof consisting of Thir­ty Degrees, he passeth through in Thir­ty Days, finishing his yearly Course in 360 Days, or thereabouts; rising, as he goes, every new day in a new Line parallel to the Equinoxial; and so in­creasing or lessening the Hours of the Day, and bringing on the several Sea­sons of the Year, which are ordained for wise and good Ends: And hence come the Vicissitudes of Summer and Winter, of Spring and Fall, of the La­borious Seed-time, and the Joyful Weeks of Harvest: All which, that great Di­vider of Days, and Months, and Years, hath all along perform'd, by such an uniform, steady, and constant tenor in its motions, that this present Day, nay this present Minute, exactly answers to that which was full a Thousand Years ago, when the Sun moved in the same Sign, in the same Degree, nay in the same Point, wherein it moveth now. All this while I have spoken according to Old Ptolemy's Hypothesis, That the Heavens move; because the Scripture speaks after that manner, as being most suitable to our ordinary Apprehensions. [Page 208] But, whether in fact the stars move, or the Earth only, or the Earth and Stars too, is the same thing to my pre­sent purpose; and I leave it to our Modern Inquisitive Philosophers to di­spute that matter out, and to end it when they can. For, where ever those Motions be, our Observations will re­turn to this point, and must rest here, That these Motions are exact, punctual, and precise; which yet were impossible, without the Decrees and Contrivance of a Supreme, Intelligent Being, or a God, that superintends, orders, and takes care of this great Frame, and Wonderful Machine of the Universe.

Now to all this the Scepticks of our Age are ready to tell us from two or three old Blundering Pagan Philosophers, That this Excellent Order of things came to pass, not by the Counsel, Skill, and Power of a Deity, but by meer chance. For (that I may in a few words open to you the Mystery of Insidelity) their grand Creed is this; That from all Eter­nity there was nothing but Matter and Motion in an Immense Space; wherein numberless multitudes of small Particles of [Page 209] Matter, called Atoms, were for a vast, long time, dancing and sporting, play­ing and toying, justling and tumbling, freaking and clashing together; and using all endeavours and tricks, how to clutch and combine into Aggregate Bo­dies, and into different Modifications, Shapes, and Forms: And that after ma­ny Rencounters and Trials, though with­out any Design, Forecast, or Understand­ing of their own, they hapned to fall in­to all the things which make up the world: Some fell into a Sun, others made up the Moon, others formed them­selves into great numbers of Twinkling Stars; a frolicksome sort of Atoms dan­ced together into that which we call the Free, Open Air; the more Dull and Lumpish kinds made up an Earth; and thence sprung up in time many other Contextures which made up Plants and Trees; and abundance ran into Animals, Beasts and Men: the very Souls of men being (as they say) nothing but delicate Modifications of the sinest, and most active Atoms that Matter could afford; where when they are by any untoward Accident or Insirmity, dasht and dissol­ved, then they bring Death; which in [Page 210] their Opinion is only the unclutching of Matter, void of a spiritual, intellectual, distinct Substance, that is said to return to a God to give an Account of its Actions at a Judgment-day; Notions which these great Wits of the world (as they take themselves to be) believe to be nothing but the Inventions of Priests and Politicians, to keep Mankind in sla­very, and to fright people out of their Senses. Thus instead of believing in a God, they believe in Matter and Mo­tion, in Space and Atoms, in Chance and Fortune: For, according to them, as things fall apieces by chance, so it was by meer chance that they fell at first together; not by the Hand and Di­rections of a Wise, Omnipotent Agent, that gave them their being; by Lucky Hits, by Casual Concurrences, but by the succesful motions of Blind, Senseless A­toms, accidentally and fortuitously jump­ing together into great variety of Com­binations and Figures; and so continu­ing, till Fortune that joined them, makes them fly asunder again; and till by some new Comical Motions they sorm themselves into new Shapes.

[Page 211]Now, though the exposing of these Conceits be Consutation enough, yet I would gravely ask these Wise Sages, How it can consist with common Rea­son to imagine, that the Fortuitous Mo­tion of Stupid, Unthinking Matter could compose all things into such ex­cellent order; as the most Intelli­gent, Prudent Mind could not have made more apt and proper? How could Blind, and consequently Erro­neous Chance, without any delibera­tion, pitch upon such Places to dis­pose every thing into, as our common Senses shew to be most sit, and com­modious? We see the Earth is Situate in the Center of the Universe, to re­ceive kindly and seasonable Influences, Heat and Cold, Drought and Moi­sture, from all the Ambient Parts of this visible World. The Firmament is expanded at such a convenient di­stance, as that it can communicate its sweet Influences, without exposing us, and the things round about us, to those Extremities of Heat, or Cold, where­by a greater Propinquity, or Longin­quity would cause Living Creatures to [Page 212] languish and dye. Those Lucid Globes which enamel the Firmament, are so appositely fix'd up and down every­where from Pole to Pole, that the re­motest Regions participate of their Vir­tues and Powers. The Sun is deter­mined to such a Fitting Course, and to such Convenient Limits, that by its Alternate Accesses and Recesses those Comforting Rays are dispersed over all the Earth, which at proper Sea­sons produce Grass for the Cattle, Bread to strengthen man's heart, and Oil to make him a chearful Counte­nance, and generous Wines to refresh and exhilerate his Spirits. Under the Opposite Poles there are the great Treasures of Snow, which yield to the Hotter Climates plenty of Rain, and Refreshing Gales of Wind. Not to speak of the Commodious Position of the several Parts in Men, Beasts, and Plants, which could not be alter'd, I do not say, without apparent Defor­mity, but without insupportable In­convenience and Prejudice to the whole Frame. This is enough to shew, that the several Branches of the Universe are so agreeably dispos'd and placed, [Page 213] that without betraying our Reason, and the use of our Faculties, we can­not impute those Positions to the ca­sual motion of blind, senseless, undeli­berating Atoms; but must look upon them as the Results of Design and Choice, and as Arguments of an In­tellectual, Provident Being over all, who worketh all things according to the counsel of his will; (or, according to the Best and Wisest Reasons) Ephes. 1. 11.

Again, Let me ask our pretending Philosophers, How can it consist with common Reason to conceive, That those Congruities and Relations which these several parts of the world bare to each other; those Aptitudes and Concinnities which are between the Disposition of some things, and the Faculties of others; so that this thing is for the use of that, and that thing reciprocally fitted for this; how, I say, can these mutual Correspon­dences be rationally ascribed to nothing but mere Fortune and Chance? Is not the Eye fitted for the seeing of Light, and Light fitted for the use of the Eye? Are not all the Senses adapted to their proper Objects, and those Objects adapted to [Page 214] gratify the Senses? Is not the Air a proper vehicle for Volatile Creatures, and the Frame of those Creatures suited to the Contexture of the Air? Are not the Wa­ters agreeable to Fish, and the Nature of Fish so adapted to the Waters, that they cannot subsist in a thinner Element? In short, Are not the parts of Nature's great Fabrick so congruously fitted to each other, like so many Springs and Wheels in the most curious piece of Art, that there is no taking away a part, without disordering and disjoynting the whole? And how can all this be thought to proceed from Chance, any more than the Frame of a Watch or a Clock? These things shew, that they were in­tended for Ends, and where Ends are to be served, there must be Knowledge, Counsel, and Forecast, how to make choice of proper Means, and how to fit those Means together for due ap­plication: And when we see the Parts of the whole World so admirably fitted, suited, and adapted to each other in such exquisite Order, What extreme sottishness is it not, to attribute those Congruities to stupid, blundering For­tune, which are so many Sculptures of [Page 215] a Divine Hand, so many plain Evi­dences of the Wisest Mind, and the Highest Reason? Once more let me ask, How it can consist with Reason to believe, that this vast Compages could hold and continue in the same excellent Order for so many Thousand years together, if it fell into it at the first by mere Accident? Or how it could come to pass, that the Parts of it have not been as yet Disunited and Scatter'd by Motion, if nothing but Fortuitous Motion joined them? All Motion ser­veth, especially if it be violent and swift, either to Wear away Matter by degrees, or to Dissolve and Dissipate the Particles on a sudden, and to make all about it fly; as we see clearly by the rapid Revolutions of every Wheel about its Axis. Supposing then one or other of these Three things, which are the principal ac­counts; either that the Earth alone whirls about upon an Axis of its own; or, that the Heavens turn round upon the great Axis of the Universe, the Earth lying quiet, and the Sun moving both forward and retrograde perpetually; or, thirdly, That the motion is divi­ded, the Earth doing the Diurnal part, [Page 216] and the Sun absolving that part which is Annual; which of these Opinions soever men are pleased to follow, they must grant on all hands, that the mo­tions are performed with the greatest velocity and quickness. And how then can so many Combinations of Atoms be rationally supposed able to have still held it out against the utmost Rapi­dity; and that all along, during the Succession of so many Years and Ages; so that in all this time, neither the Parts of any one moving Body have been impaired, nor the motion of any one hath been disturbed out of its or­derly Tenor? especially, since all is supposed by our Refined Wits to de­pend upon Chance; which is far more likely to dissolve, or disorder a Rapid Body, than ever it was to form it; for they themselves cannot tell the manner how this was done; but 'tis very easie for any man to conceive how that may be; and if there be nothing but Luck in the case, it must be a great wonder to any considering man, that by some odd Luck or other the whole World hath not been dissol­ved long ago.

[Page 217]To draw this Consideration to a pe­riod. Suppose these Scepticks should see (what I have somewhere read of) a Great Machine of Brass, like that Sphere, which Tully saith his Friend Posidonius made, contriv'd according to Ptolemy's Hypothesis, wherein there is a visible Description of the Heavens and Earth; of the supposed Orbs and Spheres above; of the Cycles and Epi­cycles; with an ingenious, but imper­perfect Representation of the Centri­cal and Eccentrical Motions of the Heavenly Bodies; and all this in a round Scheme of Materials, orderly dispos'd in their proper places; fitted together in apt Connexions; and hold­ing all together in a firm, lasting, and permanent Frame: Would they them­selves fancy this Machine to have been formed, not by the Design, Art, or Hand of any Skilful Workman; but only by Chance, and by the Fortui­tous Motion of Atoms? But because such a Machine I speak of, is not eve­ry where to be seen, let them with an accurate Eye observe some Pieces of Art, which have been the Curious [Page 218] (though now Ordinary) Improvement of this Age; I mean, the Pendulum Clocks; wherein the Movements are so fine, so adapted to each other, so regular, nay so steady and constant in their course, that some (without any help) will go, and keep their Order a full Month; some a Year, and some more; and can it be rational to im­pute all this to Luck, and Fortune; and to the casual falling together of unguided Particles of Matter; when Chance never produceth any thing that is orderly and uniform, exact and steady, stable, fixt, and constant? Or, thirdly, Let them view a Common Globe, and distinctly observe the Poles, the Axis, the Horizon, the Meridian, the Aequator, the Ecliptick, the Zodi­ack, the Tropicks, and all the Degrees whereby they may follow, and trace with their Finger the determinate course of the Sun, and then let them say, whether that poor, ordinary Frame can be thought the effect of Blind Fortune too. Nay, Lastly, Let them survey their own Houses, and examine the Solidity of the Foundations, the Ce­menting of the Walls, the Contigna­tion [Page 219] of the Beams and Rafters, and all the parts of the Buildings, so duly and properly laid, so regularly erected, so strongly fastned, so depending up­on each other for support, so fitted and compacted for use; and all ma­king up such Firm, Durable, and Per­manent Structures, as can bid de­siance to Winds and Tempests; and after all, would it not be ridiculous Folly to conceive, that those Edifices were not intended for use by any Architect's Forecast, nor raised by any Architect's Contrivance, nor finish'd by any Architect's Skill and Work­manship, but that all hapned to be erected by the Fortuitous Concurrence of Unguided Instruments, and by the accidental motion of Irrational Mate­rials; the Stones leaping by chance out of the Qarries, the Timbers dan­cing away from their Roots, the Mor­tar taking a frolick to be in too; and Saws, and Axes, and Trowels, and Hammers, and Nails, and Pins, help­ing and moving too by Chance, they know not how, nor when? Now if these be such Senseless Imaginations, what gross Stupidity is it to think, [Page 220] that this Goodly, Magnificent Fabrick the Universe, was made without the Counsel and Wisdom of a Divine Ar­chitect, and merely by the chance­motions and friskings of small Parti­cles of Matter, that without the Power and Directions of an Infinite Mind, were no more able to make a Star, or a Man, than the Motes of the Sun were to Re-build the Great City of London, when it lay in Ashes?

I have instanced in these things of Art, to shew the monstrous unreaso­nableness of those, who will not al­low so much of Skill and Contrivance to have been used in setting the World into this Commodious, Apt, and Per­manent Order, as is necessary for the perfecting of Humane Inventions: tho indeed there was infinitely more of Wisdom necessary, besides the Power requisite to raise the Materials of the World out of nothing. For, as a Learned Writer speaks, may not the most Excellent Pieces of Humane Ar­tifice, the Fairest Structures, the Finest Portraictures, the most Ingenious and Useful Enquiries, such as we are wont [Page 221] most to admire and commend, with infinitely more ease happen to exist, without any Industry or Contrivance spent upon them? If we cannot allow those rude Imitations of Nature to spring up of themselves, but as soon as we espy them, are ready to ac­knowledge them Products of Excellent Art, though we know not the Artist, nor saw him work; how much more reason is there that we should believe those Works of Nature, so incompa­rably more Accurate, to proceed also from Art, although invisible to us (that is, Divine) and performing its Workmanship by a Secret Hand?

This Argument for the Existence of a Deity, was urged by that Wise Philosopher, Cicero; who observ'd, That in theNulla in Coelo nec for­tuna, nec temeritas, nec­erratio, nec vanitas inest; contraque omnis ordo, ve­ritas, ratio, constantia. Cic▪ de Nat. Deor. lib. 2. Heavens there is nothing of Fortune, Temerity, or Error, nothing which is vain, or useless; but that on the contrary, there is all Order, Truth, Reason, and Constancy. And hence he shews, That since things perfected by Na­ture [Page 222] are much better than Works performed by Art, and yet Art it self doth nothing without Reason; therefore we must believe, that Na­ture is not void of Rea­son and Wisdom. If thenSi ergo meliora sunt ea, quae naturâ, quàm il­la quae arte perfecta sunt, nee ars efficit quidquam sine ratione; ne natura quidem rationis expers est habenda. Quî igitur con­venit, Signum aut tabu­lam pictam cùm aspexe. ris, scire adhibitam esse artem; cumque procul cursum navigii videris, non dubitare quin id ra­tione, atque arte movea­tur; aut cùm Solarium vel descriptum, aut ex aquâ contemplere, intel­ligere declarari horas ar­te, non casu; mundum autem qui & has ipsas artes, & earum artifices, & cuncta complectatur, consilii & rationis exper­tem putare? Quòd si in Scythiam, aut in Britan­niam Shpaeram aliquis tu­lerit, hanc, quam nuper familiaris noster effecit, Posidonius, cujus singulae conversiones idem effici­unt in Sole, & in Lu­ná; & in quinque stellis errantibus, quod efficitur in Coelo singulis diebus & noctibus, quis in illâ Barbarie dubitet, quin ea Sphaera sit perfecta ratio­ne? H [...] autem dubitant de mundo, ex quo ori­untur & siunt omnia, ca­sune ipse sit effectus, aut necessitate aliquâ, an ra­tione, ac mente Divinâ? Ibid. (says he) when you see a Sign, or a Picture drawn, you know that there Art was used; or, when at a distance you see a Ship taking its course, you doubt not but it is steered by Rea­son and Art: Or, when you look upon a Sun-Dial, you conclude, that the Hours of the Day are shew'd by Art, and not by Chance; how can it consist with Reason to think, that the World which contains all those Arts, and all Artificers, and indeed all manner of things, can be without Counsel and Wisdom to order it? If (says he a­gain) a Man should car­ry [Page 223] into Scythia, or Bri­tain, that Sphere which our Friend Posidonius late­ly made, wherein are re­presented the Motions of the Sun, and Moon, and the five other wandring Stars, just as they move every Day and Night in the Heavens, Who of those Barbarous People would doubt whe­ther that Sphere were made by perfect Art? And then how can it stand with Reason to doubt concerning the World, out of which all things do spring, and are made; whether That was formed by Chance, or Nature, or by a Wise and Divine Mind? And hence, a lit­tleQuis enim hunc homi­nem dixerit, qui cùm tam certos Coeli motus, tam ratos astrorum ordines, tamque omnia inter se connexa & apta viderit, neget in his ullam inesse rationem, eaque casu sieri dicat, quae quanto con­silio gerantur, nullo con­silio assequi possumus? Ibid. after, that Excellent Author questions, Whe­ther he ought to have the name of a Man gi­ven him, who when he sees the motions of the Heavens to be so certain, the ranks of the Stars to be setled, and all things to be so connected and [Page 224] fitted together, shall after all, deny that there is Reason for all these things; and say, that they were done by Chance, when our Understanding can­not reach, or comprehend the Great Counsel and Wisdom, whereby they are done or performed.


THE next thing that shews the Ex­istence of a God, is the great Beauty which appears in the Universe; whereby I mean, that entertaining and delightful View, which the admirable Frame of the World doth afford us. For which way soever we cast our Eyes, whether upward or downward, whether on this side or on that, What charming Objects are there every where for us to contemplate, with unspeakable Pleasure and Satisfaction? 1. For their Multi­tudes. 2. For their Splendor. 3. For. their Variety. 4. For the Comeliness and Delicacy of their Frame; which Four things make up the Beauty of the Creation.

1. And, First, If we look upward, What a Magnificient and August Expan­sion is there above to entertain our Eyes? A sit Curtain to be stretched out before the glorious Habitation of the Divine Majesty, and to be a Partition-Veil between that most Holy One, the Glorious God, and his poor Creatures. [Page 258] And who can tell the Number of the Stars, or call them by their Names? What Essays soever observing Astrono­mers have made, it is no more in the Power of Man, than it is to bind the sweet Influences of the Pleiades, or to loose the Bands of Orion, or to bring forth Mazzaroth in his Season, or to guide Arcturus with his Sons; as the Expressions are, Job 38. For which way soever we move, we still make new Discoveries; still we find a new enter­taining Prospect of Lights without Num­ber. That Multitude which is obvious to every Man's Eye, is uninvestigable by us; besides that immense Tract, usu­ally called the Milky-way, which is made up of a Congeries of innumerable lesser Stars, that by reason of their vast distance from us are not singly discern­able, but altogether do cast the appear­ance of a White spacious Cloud, or Zone, by the mixture and union of their languid Beams. But by the use of that artificial Instrument, the Teles­cope, great numbers of Stars have been lately discovered, which, probably, were Hever observed by Man before: AndMr. Ra [...], of the Wisd. of God in the Creat. (as a learned Author tells us) its like­ly, that had we more perfect Telescopes, [Page 259] many Thousands more might be disco­vered; and yet, after all, an incredi­ble Multitude remain, by reason of their immense distance beyond all ken by the best Telescopes that could possibly be invented, or polished by the Wit and Hand of an Angel. For if the World be as Des Cartes would have it, inde­fintely extended; that is, so far as no humane Intellect can fancy any Bounds of it; then what we see, or can come to see, must be the least part of what is un­discoverable by us; the whole Uni­verse extending a Thousand times far­ther beyond the utmost Stars we can possibly descry, than those be distant from the Earth we live upon. But we need not go so far in our Conjectures; for if that new Hypothesis, which seem­eth most Rational, be granted, That the fixed Stars are not all placed in one and the same concave Spherical Superfi­cies, equidistant from us as they seem to be; but that they are variously and dispersedly situate, some nearer, some further off, just like Trees in a great Wood or Forest; this alone, were there nothing else to be considered, is enough to shew the exceeding Great­ness and Fecundity of that Divine Pow­er, [Page 260] which Adorned and Beautified those Regions above with such Multitudes of glorious Luminaries, as by the Scrip­ture Comparison, Gen. 22. 17. seem e­qually as impossible to be counted up, as the Sands that are upon the Sea­shore.

But besides the Numbers, we must reflect upon the Magnitude of those glo­rions Bodies, which plain Reason will force us to conclude in general to be very great and immense. For though they appear to us to be small in their proportions, the Sun and Moon excep­ted, yet that is because of their vast distance from the Eye. There are cer­tain Rules in Mathematicks, and those grounded upon very probable Obser­vations, whereby the most learned and modest Astronomers, comparing the Diameters of some Stars with the Dia­meter of the Earth, have given us such accounts as to ordinary Capacities sound at the first hearing, not only amazing but utterly incredible. And though I cannot undertake to vouch for the ex­actness of the computations; yet on the other hand, I must confess my ina­bilities to shew why they may not be thought right and true in a great mea­sure. [Page 261] Who would think that the Sun is 139 times bigger than the Earth? And yet this, I think, is the very least account; for some skilful Astronomers reckon above 160. Who that takes measures by his Eye sight would ima­gine, that the Three Planets above the Sun do bear such disproportions to the Terrestrial Globe, as to be the lower­most above once, the next Two above Eighty times bigger? And yet there are curious and inquisitive Philosophers that pretend to make these Calculations good by Mathematical Demonstration. As to the sixt Stars, their Dimensions are said to be proportionable, and the now received Opinion is, that how number­less soever they be, they are (the prin­cipal ones especially) so many lesser Suns, or Sun-like Bodies. But waving all pretences to exactness, it must be granted on all hands, that they are of vast Magnitudes, how small soever they seem to us, by reason of their great height and distance from us: Which thing be­ing duly considered, What but an Om­nipotent, and most Intelligent Being can be thought to have formed such Worlds (as it were) of immense, glo­rious Creatures, wherewith the Firma­ment [Page 262] is adorned? Can it be reason­ble to conceive, that such a vast orderly Host was raised by the Chance-Motion of senseless Atoms? Or, that Chance, which never yet built a Cottage, or drew a Picture, or paved an House, could first make, and then furnish the Heavens after that magnificent and won­derfulCic de Nat. Dcor. lib. 2. Manner? Cicero considering those glittering Bodies in the Sky, their Multi­tudes, Greatness, Motion, Order and Com­modious Situations, so that instead of annoying the Earth, they are serviceable and beneficial to all things in it, could not but admire how it should enter into any Man's Heart to think, that such a goodly, beautiful Structure was framed by the fortuitous Concourse of blind and undesigning Particles of Matter, that could never build a City, or a Temple, or a Portico. After that rate (says he) they may as well believe, that by throwing multitudes of Letters upon the ground, Ennius his Annals may be made by chance, so as to become a fair, le­gible and intelligible Book; whereas no one Verse was ever so composed. (And is not such a little thing more easy to be formed by chance, than the large Vo­lume of the World?) And hence that [Page 263] excellent Author proceeds to a Dis­course of Aristotle's to this purpose: Sup­pose some persons should have dwelt all their days under ground, in stately Do­micils, adorned with Imagery and Pi­ctures, and furnish'd with all necessaries to make their lives happy, and there should have heard some rumour of a Numen, and Power Divine: And sup­pose that after a while, by the sudden opening of some Caverns of the Earth, those Persons should step out into these Parts of the World, and behold the Earth, Sun, and Heavens, and observe the greatness of the Clouds, the vio­lence of the Winds, the bigness, beauty, and influence of the Sun; and that the Day dependeth upon his Presence: And suppose when Night comes they should behold the Face of the Heavens so ador­ned, the various aspects of the Moon, the order and motion of the Stars, their rising and setting, and their stated and perpetual Courses; when they saw all these things, they could not but be­lieve that there is a God, and that these are the Works of God. By these wise Meditations of intelligent Pagans we see, that there are in the World, and espe­cially in the Heavens, such Evidences of [Page 264] a Deity as shine bright upon the Mind; so that plain honest Nature bears Witness to the Truth of that, Psal. 19. 1. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handy work.

2. If now, in the next place, we lower our Contemplations, by taking our Eyes off from the Magnificence by God's Throne, to behold a little what may be seen about his Footstool; with what Pleasure and Ravishings may we find astonishing Objects for Num­ber and Varieties? In both respects they are next to Infinite: Which shews that nothing but an Understanding in­finitely perfect, a Will infinitely essica­cions, and a Power infinitely exten­sive, could give them a Being, or pre­serve them in it; because more must be suppos'd to be in the Agent, especial­ly in a voluntary and Divine Agent, than is in its Effects. First then, as to the Number of them. The most as­suming Seepticks will not have the Considence to deny, but that it is impossible for all Mankind to give a distinct Account of Individuals; for who can be answerable for the Cata­logue of Men only? Indeed great [Page 265] pains have been taken by some criti­cal Naturalists, and particularly by that learned Author of our own before-men­tion'd, to discover the Tale of Species, or the several sorts and kinds of things with Life. And because Books are not ready at every one's Hand, let me give you the Summ in short, which seemeth to be this; The Species of Beasts, certainly known and discover'd, about 150. The Species of Birds, a­bout 500. The Species of Fishes above 3000. The Species of Insects, 20000. And the Species of Plants above that Number. But how well soever these wor­thy Observers and Secretaries of Na­ture have deserv'd of the World for their Curious and elaborate Enquiries, still they speak but like Men, whose Knowledge is, and unavoidably must be of a short reach in comparison; for what Men can be accountable for all the known Parts of the World? and especially for those Parts which are as yet undiscover'd? However, the Esti­mate is the more laudable, because it is modest; there being, Secondly, great Variety, as well as Numbers, of things on Earth, that are included and com­prehended under one and the same [Page 266] Species; which still shews the Beauty of the Creation the more: As, the Lilies (for Example) which though they are not allow'd a Specisick diffe­rence, to make them every one a di­stinct sort or kind of Flower; yet a Numerical difference must be allow'd them, by reason of their plain diffe­rence as to Growth, Colour, Shape, and Smell. I use this Instance the ra­ther, because the Lord Jesus himself was pleas'd to send us to the Lilies of the field for our Instruction, Math. 5. But the Observation extends to many other Productions, wherein we find great di­versity in one respect or other, though they be of the same Kind. And this variety of things, which still operates conformably to their own Powers and Faculties, carries with it a plain Stamp of an Hand acting with secundity of Power, directed and govern'd by abun­dant Wisdom. For though an Infinite Power may form things without Num­ber or End, yet the Beauty of that Power is best seen by the diversity of its Strokes, which make up one come­ly and fair Composure, as variety of agreeable Features and Lineaments make up a beautiful Face. Such is the ad­mirable [Page 267] Decorum that is in this spaci­ous Universe, in that it is not stock'd with numerous Generations of one Kind only (which yet a boundless and un­controulable Power cou'd have made) but is checquer'd (as was more agree­able to Wisdom) with a Multiplicity of Species, that the fecundity of the Power might be more wonderfully display'd, the Glory of the Divine Goodness might be more visibly ex­tended round about the World, and that all Rational Creatures might be more easily and throughly taught to admire and adore that Munificent Be­ing, which from time to time main­taineth so many abundant sorts of Crea­tures at the constant charge of his Pro­vidence. We see how one Creature is ministerial and serviceable to ano­ther; as Grass is for the Cattel; Fruits for Beasts, Fowls, and Insects; and Animals themselves for the use of Men, (and every Man shou'd be for the ser­vice of God.) Now by this admirable State of things, that provident care seems to have been taken from the be­ginning, which the Son of God took at the Miracle of the Loaves and Fish­es, that nothing shou'd be lost, John 6. [Page 268] 17. Nothing is quite lost upon the Earth; but what one Creature leaves, another takes; what this kind refuseth, another sort gathers; so that at the end of the Year, Men and Animals constantly make even with the World, and spend the Liberality of Nature; all waiting on the Providence of a Su­periour Being, to give them their Meat again in due Season. Things indued with Life being thus various, and that variety being thus useful as well as en­tertaining, what can a Man's next Thought be, but that there is a Glori­ous God, who made his Creatures in Number, Measure, and Weight; not only to display the Exuberance and Transcendency of his Power, but also to exemplifie the insinity of his Skill, Wisdom, and Munisicence? And yet I have taken no notice of the variety of things inanimate here below, or of their various Dispositions, Qualities, and Modifications, which yet are asto­nishing Arguments of a Divine Mind, that so appositely form'd such a vast multiplicity of Beings, according to such innumerable and such beauteous Idea's. The diversity of Elements, with their various Mixtures and Tem­peraments [Page 269] in this lower World: The attracting, penetrating, refrigerating Motions of the Air, and the various Appearances in it of Rain, Hail, Snow, Thunder, Lightnings, Clouds, Winds, Rainbows, Comets, and other liquid Meteors; the variety of Waters, as Springs, Rivers, Lakes, Seas, Baths; their various Colours, Smells, and Tastes, together with their various Courses and Reciprocations; the unin­vestigable variety within the Earth, Quarries, Minerals, Metals, Loadstones, Subterraneous Fire, Caverns, Treasures of Salts, Nitres, Bitumens, Sulphurs, precious Stones and Gemms of great variety. In short, whatever is for the Advantage, or Comfort, or Pleasure, or Ornament of our Lives, we fetch out of the Earth in great abundance: All these multifarious Creatures speak the Forecast and Providence of a most wise and liberal Being, that of his Goodness, was pleas'd thus to sill the whole Universe with his Riches. This Pulchritude of the World arising from the variety of its Furniture, was to Cicero a convincing Argument of the Existence of a God; the Perennity of so many Fountains, the Delicacy of [Page 270] Streams, the Garniture of Banks by the sides of Rivers, the vastness of Caves, the asperity of Rocks, the height of many hanging Mountains, the immen­sity of Champion Countries, the hid­den Veins of Silver and Gold, the in­finite store of Marbles, the goodliness of Seas, the multitude and varieties of Islands, the Amenity of Shores, and the innumerable diversity of Things by, and on the Sea-shores: And to say after all, that this admirable and delightful Variety happen'd by the casual Motion of blind, irrational, and unguided Atoms, is far more absurd than to say, that Cicero's Orations were compos'd by the casual drop­pings of Ink, without the help of any Hands or Brains, though they contain such variety of Matter, such copious­ness of Style, such elegancy of Phrase, such abundance of Sense, Argument, and Wit, that the whole Air of them shews them to have been contrived and penned by a Man of excellent Art, and the acutest Understanding.

3. If we cast our Eyes on further yet, we may see the beauty of the Creation, as by the variety, so by the [Page 271] Symmetry and comliness of those things which every where fall under our Contemplation. With what admira­ble Contrivance are the innumerable Tribes of Fishes made, to live in a lit­tle World by themselves? to feed and propagate, to swim and play, to poize and steer their Bodies in their fluid Element? How exquisite is the formation of all the Sensitive Creatures upon the Earth, from the Lion and Leopard, from the Elephant and Ca­mel, to the Ox and Ass? What affe­cting variety of Art is there in the for­mation of Man? O Lord (saith Da­vid) I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvellous are thy works in me, and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance being yet un­perfect, and in thy Book were all my members written, which day by day were fashioned, when as yet there were none of them. Such knowledge is too won­derful for me; it is high, I cannot al­tain unto it, Psalm 139. But though the Mystery of God's Workmanship within us be not discoverable by eve­ry [Page 272] Eye, yet the external Beauty of this House of Clay affecteth all Men, especially when Innocence and Good­ness are the Inhabitants; a goodly Structure of Nerves, Veins, Arteries, Tendons, Muscles, Vitals, Bones, Li­gaments, all cover'd over with a beau­teous Skin, adorn'd with Features and Lineaments, with Shapes and Colours, to which the most sullen Stoicks, nay the greatest and proudest Heroes, have humbly offer'd up themselves, not Vo­taries only, but sometimes Sacrifices al­so. What do I speak of the graceful Form of Humane Bodies? View the most contemptible Creatures upon Earth, and you will find the excel­lent Curiosity of their Contrivance for the Ends and uses they are design'd unto, from the Velvet Mole even to those creeping Animals which strike us with Horrour at the sight of them▪ the Snake, the Adder, the Evet, the Lizzard, and the very Toad, who have such a Symmetry of Parts, such speck­led Contextures, such beauteous Co­lours, as shew that they stole not into the World without the Will of that provident Being, who thought fit to adorn the Universe with great variety. [Page 273] But of those ordinary Creatures we familiarly behold, there are especially three sorts, which for the exquisiteness of their Frame, or for the delicacy of their Complexion, or for both, are no little Ornament to the Creation. First Insects, which though they are lookt upon as the Refuse parts of the World, yet do bear the Signatures of a most accurate Hand, and bring to my Mind St. Paul's Observation of the Fabrick and Garniture of our Bodies, 1 Cor. 12. The eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you; nor again the head to the foot, I have no need of you. Nay much more those members of the body which seem to be more feeble, are neces­sary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow the more abundant honour; and our uncomly parts have more abundant comliness. The meaning is, that where Natural Beauty is want­ing, Artisicial Beauty by handsome Clothes doth make amends. In like manner those ignoble Creatures I now speak of, how low soever the Divine Hand hath placed them in Rank and Order, their want of Honour in re­spect of their Station, is supply'd and [Page 274] made up by the Beauties bestow'd up­on them in respect of their Contex­ture: Witness the Gildings of the Wasp, the Hornet, the Bee, and ma­ny such-like Insects; the Gayeties of the Butterfly; the Garniture of the Caterpillar; the Lustre of the Glow-Worm; the Glosses of the Beetle; the Elegancies of the Grashopper; the fiue Embellishments of many Garden and Meadow-Insects, which I cannot name; the delicate forms of Flies of all sorts, especially the various Beau­ties of those which in Summer you may with great Admiration behold a­bout Ponds and Rivers; their incom­parable Shapes; their gaudy Trains; their Or's and Azures; their curious Lineaments and rich Embroideries; all these are so many legible Characters in the Volume of the Creation, to in­struct us, that the Maker of the Uni­verse is a Divine Being, infinite in Knowledge, Wisdom, and Fecundity. I shall close this with the Observation of a learned Writer, concerning theBp. Wil­kim ▪s Nat. P. cl. p. 80. difference between Natural and Arti­ficial things, which appears by the help of the Microscope, since we have had the use and improvement of it. Whate­ever [Page 275] is Natural, doth by the Micro­scope appear adorn'd with all imagi­nable Elegance and Beauty. There are such inimitable Gildings and Em­broideries in the smallest Seeds of Plants, but especially in the Parts of Animals, in the Head or Eye of a small Fly; such accurate Order and Symmetry in the frame of the most minute Creatures, as no Man will be able to conceive with­out seeing of them.

4. Another sort of Creatures which serve as well for the Ornament of the Creation, as for the Service and De­light of Men, is that winged Quire of Birds which entertain us with me­lodious Consorts, and shou'd teach us to offer up daily Hymns of Praise to the Honour of that God, who seedeth Man and Beast, even to the young ra­vens which call upon him, Psalm 147. and begrudgeth not his Altars to be an house for the sparrow, and a nest for the swallow to lay her young, Psalm 84. And how artfully are those Creatures form'd for their respective ends? How appositely are all their Organs sitted, that they may be able to discover all Meats that are proper for them; to gather their various sorts of Food, [Page 276] from the Worms in the Earth to the Flies and Insects in the Air; to flee and shelter themselves from Deaths and Dangers; to sail about in their thin Element; and to fill Mountains and Valleys, Woods and Fields, with their sweet Harmonies? Of all Animals the Fowls of the Air (if you take the whole Set of them) appear to the open Eye the most beautiful; excepting some birds of prey, such as the Raven, the Daw, which want that Splendor which others have; as if the tender Being, whose Mercies are over all his Works, design'd to disgrace, even in irrational Creatures, all bloodiness and cruelty of Temper. With what deli­cate variety are the more innocent sorts adorn'd, especially such as live upon Seeds and Worms? Their par­ty-colour'd Cloathing, their beauteous Heads and Breasts, their Plumes of Sil­ver and Gold; all socketted within such Nerves and Ligaments, and sized in such due Proportions for flight, and deelt with such splendid Curiosi­ty, that a Man can hardly see a Fea­ther which shews not the Art of a Divine Hand.

[Page 277]But, as our Saviour himself said, Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin, and yet your heavenly Father clothes them. And how various and beautiful is that Rayment? I must not pretend to de­scribe it, since no Art can reach the wonderful sineries of Nature. And what we call Nature is nothing but yet the forming Power or Faculty of semi­nal Principles, directed by the Will of a wise supreme Being, in order to the respective Ends and Uses of the things which are to be formed. Now, to in­stance in our common Lily; do but observe the congruous Complication of its fibrous Roots, the procerity and decence of the Stalk, the Ornaments up­on its Head, the conformity of the Flower to all others of the same kind, the Odour it yields, its tender Seeds provided against the next Year; and those surrounded with a graceful De­fence, consisting of such curious Divi­sions, tinctur'd with such Blushings, criticiz'd with such Edgings; and all these supported and maintain'd by a curious Contexture of Filaments, con­veying the Powers of Life all over through a Net-work of the most ex­quisite [Page 278] Fibres, all wrapt up in a lovely Skin, and thereby defended from the annoyances and rudenesses of Wea­ther. And what I have said of the Lily, is observable in every other Flow­er where with the Surface of the Earth is beautified; nay in every Blossom wherewith the Heads of Trees are a­dorned; the meanest whereof consi­steth of such a delicate Shape, Form, and Structure, as plainly shews that they are not the casual Works of stu­pid bungling Atoms, but the fair Pro­ductions of an orderly Power, super­intended and guided by an intelligent Being, that at first made all things by the fertil energy of his Will. Can a­ny Man of sound Reason believe that all these Elegances did ever jump to­gether by chance? Was an House, or a Room, ever beautify'd with Car­vings, Paintings, and Tapestry, by meer Chance; that is, without Hand, or Instrument, or Design? Did blind Chance ever draw one Landskip, with Trees, Flowers, birds and Cattel re­presented in it? Did it ever draw the Picture of an Ass? a thing so dull and stupid, that one would think it most easily done by the casual aggregation [Page 279] of senseless Atoms, if Chance ever did any thing of that kind at all. And is it rational to believe, that Chance made a whole beautiful World of O­riginals, when it could never yet give us one Copy? No; these beauteous Productions shew the print of an Hand that formed all things according to the highest Reason, and with the most stu­pendious Skill and Art; otherwise it were impossible to conceive how there could be such great diversity of come­ly Species; such Concinnities and Symmetries in them; such regularity of handsom Strokes; such congruous Features and Lineaments; such curio­sity of various Forms, as we see adorn the Creation, and entertain our Eyes with Delight and Astonishment.

If it be said, that all his proceeds from Seminal Principles, acting in eve­ry thing by the Virtue and Faculty of that Plastick Nature, of which a very excellent Author of our own hath spo­kenDr. Cud­worth In­tel, Syst. so much, and written so well; in answer hereunto,

1. First, It seems very reasonable to grant, that as there is in Animals a Pla­stick Nature, or an internal moving, [Page 280] formative Principle, which doth dis­pose and fashion all the parts of the Foetus; so there is in the Earth too a Plastick Nature, or Life by which all Plants and Vegetables are differently form'd, according to their different Seeds; and all this regularly, orderly, methodically, and artificially, accord­ing to the dispositions of every Vege­table, and in order to certain Ends and purposes which it serveth for.

2. But then, Secondly, it must be granted also, that this Plastick Nature cannot know or understand its Work­ings, or be conscious of what it doth; much less can it comprehend the rea­sons of its Operations; or intend and design the Ends, or consult and deli­berate concerning the manner of bring­ing those Ends about: For these are Mental Acts, proper to Creatures Ra­tional, endn'd with Rational Faculties and Powers.

3. And therefore, Thirdly, instead of destroying the Notion of a Deity, the Plastick Nature in Animals and Plants, doth infer the existence of an intelligent directing Agent, under [Page 281] which, and in subserviency to which, it acteth so methodically; like a La­bourer that does the drudgery, to act under the Conduct of a wise Master-Workman. And this is the Notion of that excellent Author spoken of; that though Plastick Nature doth act artifi­cially for the sake of Ends, yet it self doth neither intend those Ends, nor understand the reason of that it doth. Nature is not Master of that consum­mate Art and Wisdom according to which it acts, but only a Servant, and a drudging Executioner of the Di­ctates of it. It acteth not by Choice or Knowledge: Though it be a thing which worketh regularly and uniform­ly for Ends, and which may be also called the Divine Art and Fate of the Corporeal World; yet for all that, it is a low and imperfect Creature, for­as much as it is not Master of that Reason and Wisdom according to which it acts; nor does it properly in­tend those Ends which it acts for, nor indeed is it expresly conscious of what it doth, it not knowing, but only do­ing according to Commands and Laws imprest upon it. Neither of which things ought to seem strange or in­credible, [Page 282] since Nature may as well act regularly and artificially without any Knowledge and Consciousness of its own, as Forms of Letters compoun­ded together, may print coherent Phi­losophick Sense, though they under­stand nothing at all; and it may also act for the sake of those Ends that are not intended by it self, but an higher Being, as well as the Saw or Hatchet in the Hand of the Architect doth.

This shews that whatever the Pow­ers of Nature be, they are all in Obe­dience and Subserviency to a supreme, wise Being, that was the Author of Na­ture, and hath all along since preserved its Faculties, and is still the principal, superintending Cause of all that De­cence and Beauty, which giveth such a dazling Lustre to the whole Creation, and is from Year to Year, from Age to Age maintained in a constant, uniform, and undistrubed State. To say that all the comely Parts of the World were such from Eternity, is very absurd. To suppose they made themselves such out of nothing, is nonsense: To conceive they were fortuitously formed such by the accidental Jumblings, and Sport­ings, [Page 283] and Coalition of undesigning Mat­ter, is equally as unreasonable: And to fancy they constitute such by the like accidental cohesion of those blind Parti­cles of Matter, is a conceit as wild and extravagant as the rest. Can Chance form a Flower, especially such variety of Flow­ers, the contexture whereof no Art can express? Can Chance propagate so ma­ny beautiful Species of them in such a steady, constant, regular Manner? Can Chance do this that never did any thing that was orderly, uniform, and unin­terruptedly Graceful since the World stood? Could Chance make so many Minute Seeds so Mysteriously, with such Germens, Fibres, and Ramifications, that by the help of a Microscope you would believe you saw the Plant in an Epitome? Can Chance then teach the Seed to sprout so Methodically? First to cast out a complication of Roots downward, to establish its hopeful Off-spring in the Ground, and to receive for it a con­stant supplement of Vitality; and then to shoot upwards into a proportionable Body, with variety of Vessels to enter­tain its Nutriment? Can Chance then direct the Plant to cloath it self with proper Integuments? To extend it self [Page 284] into divers Branches and Divaricati­ons? To cover its Head with Leaves? To adorn those Leaves with Flowers, To which Solomon's Glory was not com­parable? And to digest and disperse the vital Juice into great variety of odori­ferous Shapes, Streaks and Colours, such as are inimitable by human Art? And when these curious Works are done, Doth Chance instruct the florid Crea­ture to reflect upon its mean and poor Beginnings, and as a grateful return to form more Seeds of the same Species for another new Generation? Do all these orderly and artificial Operations look, as if they proceeded from the for­tuitous Motions of irrational, rude and stupid Atoms? Are they not rather clear Arguments of the wonderful Skill and Wisdom of an intelligent Being, that sustains the Faculties, and guides the O­perations of plastick Nature by a perpe­tual Law? That is, by an energetick, effective Principle given it by its Maker, whereby Nature works uniformly and steadily in subserviency to the Will and Intention of the great Creator, and Pre­server of all things? This is the only intelligible and rational Account that can be given of the Beauty of the Cre­ation.


THE next thing to be consider'd, as a plain Argument of the Ex­istence of a God, is the usefulness of the particular Branches of the Universe, and the aptitude of them to answer their respective Uses; which I once intended to have made two distinct Heads; but upon second Thoughts conceive it bet­ter to cast them together into one. And if it is made appear that the World is so artfully framed, that the parts of it tend, and are adapted to such benefi­cial Purposes, as they would and should have been made for, supposing Divine Wisdom and Goodness to have had the framing of them; What can any rea­sonable Man conclude, but that they were intended and sitted for those ex­cellent Purposes, by the contrivance of a directing, beneficent Being over all; and not jumbled together by the meer lucky compositions of unthinking, un­deliberating Atoms?

This then must be our present busi­ness to look into distinctions; and be­cause the Subject is Copious and Impor­tant, [Page 286] as well as entertaining, it will be necessary for us to cast our Eyes again over this goodly Fabrick, and observe the admirable usefulness, as we have hitherto discover'd the Order and Beau­ty of its Structure.

1. To begin then with the heavenly Bodies; whose principal End (as I conceive) is, by their Lustre and Mag­nificence to set forth in some measure the infinite Greatness and Splendor of the Divine Majesty; being themselves so many faint Rays, or rather (as in this case, if I may without absurdity speak) so many Shadows of his Glory. As they relate to this inferior World, they are the great means of Vitality, without which it were impossible for any living Creatures to be maintain'd in their Being; nor would the whole Terraqueous Globe be any thing but dead Rock and Ice. For the prevention of which Havock, they are in their Natures so many inexhausti­ble Fountains of Fire, that give Light to all sensible Creatures, warmth and vege­tation to all Animal substances. This is to be said more especially of that great Lu­minary the Sun, which Heathens have been wont to worship, for the univer­sal Good it doth by its enlivening [Page 287] Beams. For as it is in its Nature of a comforting, cherishing, and quickning Faculty; so are its Courses such as ren­der its Powers every where effectually useful. Had it been fixt over any one determinate Part of the Earth in a State unmoveable, it would have been not only useless, but pernicious unto all things; for as the Parts of the World out of the reach of its Beams, would have been in an eternal State of Dark­ness and Death; so the very Regions under the Sun must have been parched up, and consequently desolate, and un­inhabitable by means of those continual Fires, which would have turned all in­to a kind of Conflagration. Therefore 'tis as necessary for the good of the Crea­tion that the Sun should move, as that it should give light and warmth; and that Motion being two-fold; Diurnal finish'd in 24 Hours; and Annual per­formed in 12 Months; all things living receive such vast Utilities by both, as argue the Existence of a most wise and provident Being, whose Goodness is over all his Works. By the Diurnal Mo­tion of the Sun there are constant, sta­ted returns of Light and Darkness; and by those Vicissitudes, as all Animals [Page 288] have their Time divided between La­bour and Rest (which is as necessary for them as Labour, and as their Food which is acquired by Labour, and re­pairs those Expences of Nature which Labour brings) so are those Producti­ons which serve for Food, prepared and ascertained by these daily Revolutions. In the Day time the Beams of the Sun serve to heat the Ground, to actuate the principles of vegetation, to pro­mote the ascent of vital Juices, to con­coct and ripen Fruits, and to impreg­nate the Atmosphere with Fumes and Vapours: And in the Night those Va­pours descend upon the Ground again in Dews, Showers, or Rains, accord­ing to the Necessities of the Climate; by which means there is a due Tempera­ment of Warmth and Moisture that makes all Vegetables Fruitful, and pre­serves Animals in a state of Health and Vigour; witness those Regions under the Line, where the Sun shines the hot­est; though the Ancients believed they were all roasted into utter Barreness; yet by Discoveries which have been made since, it appears that the heats and droughts of the Day are so allay'd by the constant Breezes and Rains of [Page 289] the Night, that they are the most fertil parts of the World. By the Annual Course of the Sun, which carries it about from North to South, and so round again, it disperseth its vivisick Rays over all, restores yearly all the Powers of Nature, makes all People amends for its late distance from them, and takes its Circuit so, that one Sun serves all Climates, and answers the Necessities of all the World. 'Tis true, some places are much more remote from the Sun than others are, as those extreme parts of the Earth call'd, The Northern and Southern Poles. But then it is to be consider'd, that the Fruits and Animals of those Countreys are such as do not require so great de­grees of external Heat. And besides, there are other Stars which cast in those parts a more proper, kindly, and (if I may so speak) connatural Influence; espe­cially the Moon, of which Luminary it is observable, that it is the Sun's De­puty, to supply its Room in its ab­sence; and as the Moon moves fur­ther towards the North and South than the Sun ever does, so is it fullest of Light, and consequently of enliveing Influences, when the Sun is at the great­est [Page 290] distance from it towards the one part or the other; so that there is the most benefit by the Moon in those Regions, and at those Seasons of the Year, when and where the Sun is most wanting. All which shews, that there is a most wise and beneficent Being o­ver all, who formed the Substances of those glorious Luminaries, and directed all their Course as he foresaw would be best for the World; because it is impossible to conceive rationally how Creatures utterly void of Reason and Sense, (as the Sun and Moon are) cou'd, without the directions of Divine Reason, and without the appointment of a Divine Will, pitch upon such re­gular and proper Motions, that if they had had the highest Reason of their own, they could not have de­termined upon better Courses for the service and good of the Uni­verse.

To descend now a little lower; e­very one perceives how useful that thin Medium is between Heaven and Earth, which we call the Air; how it transmits the Light of Heaven to us; how it delights our Ears with many Natural and Artificial Undulations; [Page 291] how it helps us with Breath; how it supplies us with the seasonable Ad­vantages of Heat and Cold, of Drought and Moisture; what a Vehicle it is for vast variety of useful Creatures; and how it openeth its Treasures to make the whole Earth communicate of its Plenty: And what but a Divine Mind, and an Omnipotent Hand, could have made this Medium of such a ne­cessary and fit Contexture, as to an­swer all these Purposes? Could For­tune and Atoms contrive to breathe into the Nostrils of every Animal such a common breath of Life? Could they make it fluid, to assist the flight of every Fowl, and to suit with eve­ry Vibration of its Wings? Could they store it with Insects for every Bat and Swallow to live on? Could they give it an agreeable thickness to refract the Light, and by those Refractions to bring all Forms, Shapes, and Colours to the Eye in their proper Idea's? Could they provide Winds to keep it from Stagnation, and Frosts and Snows, Lightnings and Thunders, to carry off those Impurities which would prove very prejudicial to our Lives? Could they impregnate it with Nitrous Par­ticles, [Page 292] to make the Blood in an Ani­mals Lungs the more Spirituous? Could they direct it to warm and irrigate the whole Earth, like the Mist which Moses says went up from the earth in the beginning, and watered the whole face of the ground? Gen. 6. 2. Is it rea­sonable to imagine, that stupid Mat­ter, and the undirected Motion of diminutive Particles, could contrive or do all these wise and good things, without the guidance of a super-intend­ing Power, that gave every thing a Law? This were to make senseless Mat­ter and Motion capable and conscious of such Philosophy as the wisest Phi­losophers have stood astonisht at in all Ages.

To go on: They that go down to the sea in ships, and occupy their business in great waters, these men (saith the Psal­mist) see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep, Psalm 107. 23, 24. How wantonly soever some conceited Men talk of Atoms falling by Chance into Pebbles and Sands, it seems pro­digiously strange they should believe the whole Ocean also to have been made by an accidental Composition of them. An Element of such vast extent [Page 293] and depths, and so aptly contriv'd for great ends and uses, that one would think whoever has but heard of a God, would presently conclude it to have been form'd by Divine Art and Counsel: For what could it be but Wisdom that made it a sluid, liquid Heap, to serve for Navigation and Traf­fick into all parts of the World, and for those innumerable Creeping things to move in, which the Psalmist speaks of, both small and great Beasts, Psalm 104. 25? What could it be but Wis­dom that proportioned out such de­terminate quantities of Water, so great as to supply all the Necessities of Crea­tures; not greater to drown them? What could it be but Wisdom that gathered that lighter Element into Ca­vities, which by the Laws of its own Nature overflows every dense and hea­vy Substance? What could it be but Wisdom that barricado'd up the Sea every where with rising Shores, Rocks, and Hills, which seem to tell the proud­est Waves in God's own Language, Hitherto shall ye come, and no further? What could it be but Wisdom that appointed those reciprocal Motions, the Ebbings and Flowings of the Sea, to [Page 294] preserve the Waters from those Cor­ruptions and Stenches to which the great heat of the Sun would other­wise make them subject; as we see in standing Ditches, Pools, and Lakes? What could it be but Wisdom that seasoned the whole Ocean with Salt, to keep even those Profundities from putrifying which are not so violently tossed to and fro, as the Surface is by the influence of the Moon, especially at the Change and Full? What could it be but Wisdom that ordered the proportions of Saltness so, that it is eve­ry where distributed according to the Necessities of the Place and Climate, in more degrees towards the Sea's Bottom, where there is less of Motion, and in more scanty Measures towards the Poles, where there is less of Heat? What could it be but Wisdom that took care that notwithstanding these saliue Mixtures which are so necessary and useful there, the Ocean should be both the Original and Receptacle of those fresh Waters, which are as ne­cessary and useful at Land? What could it be but Wisdom that provi­ded that some of the Salt Element should be freshened in the Air, thence [Page 295] to fall down upon the Ground in gentle cherishing Showers; and abun­dance more to be sweetned in the Veins of Hills, which serve to perco­late and strein the Waters in their way through variety of Sands and Earths, towards innumera [...]le Foun­tains, and this with such accuracy, that no Art of Man can so effectually take away all that Bracki [...]hness by any Fil­tres or Distillations?

And (now we are come upon firm Land) let us consider, what could it be but Wisdom that prepar'd those secret Veins in the Earth, through which the Waters of the Seas ascend to the Tops of Mountains; thence fall down in crystal Streams, to ferti­lize Valleys, and to afford salutary Drinks for Men and Beasts; and at last, after all their uses and ends answer'd, return to the Sea again, in a regular course of Circulation, like the Circu­lation of Blood in sensitive Creatures, which supports Life, and recruits all Vital and Animal Spirits? Certainly that Man must have a Mind and Fore­head as hard as a Rock of Adamant, that can have the confidence to ascribe all this wise and wonderful Oecono­my [Page 296] which hath been all along, to no­thing but Fortune and Chance, or to the accidental Motion of unthinking, irrational, and ungovern'd Matter. And yet this one thing more is veryDisput. de Deo, 2. Sect. 21. observable, that throughout the whole Earth, the mountainous parts of it are so situate and exalted, that they seem to have been made on purpose, and with an intention, the more com­modiously to relieve all the Regions round about them; and the hotter and dryer those Regions are naturally, the lostier are the Mountains, and the greater plenty of Springs and Streams they have to cast forth, though the Waters they yield creep up to the Tops of them, against the tendency of their own Nature. Thus (says my Au­thor) is that ho [...] Quarter of the World America, divided by a continued Ledge of Mountains, which run out from South to North, and yield on each side towards the East and West, abundance of great Fountains and Rivers. In like manner is Africa divided by Atlas and the Mountains of the Moon, out of which on each side great Rivers spring: And whereas at certain times of the Years, the Winds in those parts throw great store of Moisiure [Page 297] from the Seas upon those Mountains, hence in all lieklyhood it is, that the Rivers overflow Africa at certain Sea­sons, as Nilus does the Land of Ae­gypt. After the same rate is Asia di­vided from the Pamphylian Coasts to the extreme parts of India, by Taurus, Imaus, Caucasus, and other Mountains, which run out by divers Branches about into all parts, whence innumerable famous Rivers run for a long Tract of Miles, into Countries that need them. In Eu­rope there are the Pyrenean by Spain, the Apennine in Italy, and the Alps by France, which extend their Arms through several Nations, and cast out vast Streams of Water, that run far and wide where they are most useful and necessary. And, to conclude the Observation, if any Man (says he) will examine Islands, and the lesser parts of the Earth, he will find, that the Land in every part is highest a­bout the middle of the Country, so that the neighbouring Plains and Valleys are liberally supplied by beneficial Currents. And what more pregnant Instances can any considerate Man desire to convince him of the Existence of a most wise and provident God? Whereas Chance doth evermore come short of Art, as [Page 298] Art it self comes short of Nature; these things in Nature are so far be­yond all, that it is impossible with any Colour of Reason, to think they pro­ceed from a Cause that never under­stood or intended to do good; or to impute them to any thing but Divine Art, Counsel, and Contrivance.

I have taken notice of these things the rather, because the Barrenness of Hills hath been objected against the Doctrine of a Providence, which (if the thing suppos'd were in Fact true) would be a very poor Argument, be­cause the Utilities already mention'd, abundantly compensate for the suppo­sed Sterility. But after all, the Sup­position it self cannot hold: For the mountainous parts of the Earth are in divers accounts as necessary as the rich­est Soils; and perhaps would be found as advantageous, if Art and Industry were employed to make Experiments. I do not speak only in reference to Culture, but moreover in respect of those latent Treasures, Quarries, Mine­rals, Metals, Gemms, and the like; which have occasion'd that Notion a­mong some Naturalists, That the more ungrateful any Country is on the Sur­face, [Page 299] the richer are its Bowels; which is still an Argument of the Existence of a most wise Being, that made Man­kind not to stand still a staring about the World, but some way or other to take Pains in it.

As for the other parts of the Earth, the Utilities of them are so various and manifest, that notwithstanding the most comfortable Notions we have of a better World, few People are very willing to leave this. We see how the Creatures about us serve to good ends, and how serviceable they are in their Tendencies and Effects. Herbs, Fruits, Animals, all are useful, as for the Beau­ty and Preservation of this inferiour World, so for the Good of Man, the noblest part of it. Some things serve for our Food, and some for our Cloathing; some for Nutriment, and some for Medicinal Operations; some for our Employments and Labours, and some for our Ease; some for our Ne­cessities, and some for our more com­fortable Subsistence; some to gratifie our Senses, and some to exercise our Reason; some which minister to our Convenience, and some which even humour us in our Pleasures and Di­versions. [Page 300] Now all this shews, that there is a most wise and benign Agent which presideth over all, and directeth every thing for Good; because Crea­tures which are void of Rational Fa­culties cannot be supposed to operate of their own choice, according to the Laws of Reason and Goodness, nor to intend, or design, or understand Ends; which yet they seem to prose­cute so effectually, as if they had Rea­son and Goodness of their own to guide them. And therefore it is most reasonable to grant, that there is a su­periour intelligent Being, who formed and intended them for their several Uses, and preserves their Power so that they may answer the Uses they were made for. 'Tis true, there may be many things in the World whose uses we are as yet very ignorant of: But it will not thence follow that they are superfluous, and to no good purpose at all: For this Ignorance proceeds ei­ther from want of Capacity in our Un­derstandings, which cannot open all the Mysteries, nor comprehend all the In­trigues of Nature at once; or else from want of due Care and Diligence in making enquiries into them. And this [Page 301] is an Argument not of any Defect in the Contrivance it self, nor of want of Forecast and Skill in the Contriver, but of the greatness of that Art and Wis­dom, which thus escapes our dull and narrow Faculties, till Time and Expe­rience helps us. There are divers Plants, which in former Ages have been esteem'd noxious, and of ill ef­fect, and yet have been found to be very wholsom and kind to our Na­tures. And though there be divers Animals which are abhorr'd as Veno­mous, and which Vulgar People think might be well spared out of the World, yet we must not think but that they were design'd and fitted for good Pur­poses; partly to take off those Quali­ties in the Air and Earth, which would be prejudicial to the Lives of Man and Beast; and then to digest those Qualities by the Chymistry of Nature, to alter them so, that in the end they prove not only safe but vital; witness the Viper, out of which the skilful A­pothecary can prepare as well a plea­sant as a salutary Cordial. Therefore, as when we go into an Artificers Shop, and observe variety of Instruments, the uses whereof we do not understand, [Page 303] it would be folly to imagine, that those Instruments were not contrived by a good Artist, nor were intended for good Ends, though we see them used, and have in truth nothing to say, but that we our selves are unac­quainted with the Art; so when we view this great Shop of Nature, and find there some Creatures, whose proper and particular uses we do not presently perceive, it would be great Weakness to conclude thence, that they were not formed by a wise Hand, nor serve to wise Ends. For the on­ly reason why their special Utilities do not appear, is because our own Fa­culties are so limited, and our Ex­perience so short, that we do not un­derstand all the Methods and Arts of Nature, nor every Purpose which that superintending Being aims at, in whose Hand Nature is, and in subserviency to whose Wisdom Nature operates. Rather we should believe that nothing is in vain; and that the Divine Pur­poses are fulfilled, though we do not discern the effect in every Instance: For the great Ends to which many partsDr. Bar­row, Vol. 2. Serm. 2. of the World serve, are so palpable and plain, that (as an excellent Wri­ter [Page 304] speaks) Reason obligeth us to sup­pose the like of the rest, though per­haps we discern not the use of each part, or the tendency of each particu­lar effect. Even as a Person whom we observe frequently to act with great Consideration and Prudence, when at other times we cannot penetrate the drift of his Proceedings, we must yet imagine that he hath some latent Rea­son, some reach of Policy, that we are not aware of. Or, as in an En­gine consisting of many parts curiously combin'd, whereof we do perceive the general use, and apprehend how divers parts thereof conduce thereto, Reason prompts us (although we neither see them all, nor can comprehend the im­mediate serviceableness of some) to think they are all some way or other subservient to the Artist's Design. Such an Agent is God, the Wisdom of whose Proceedings being in so many Instan­ces notorious, we ought to suppose it answerable in the rest: And such an Engine is the World; of which we may easily enough discover the gene­ral End, and how many of its Parts do conduce thereto; and cannot there­fore in reason but suppose the rest of [Page 304] their kind alike congruous, and con­ducible to the same purpose. Our In­capacity to discover all, doth not ar­gue any defect, but an excess of Wis­dom in the Design thereof: Not too little Perfection in the Work, but too great an one rather in respect to our Capacity.

Having thus consider'd the usefulness of those ends, which the things here about us are subservient for, let us in the next place observe the usefulness of their Structure in order to those ends; which will further demonstrate the wonderful Wisdom of God above all the Powers of senseless Matter and blind Fortune.

And here to describe the Fabricati­on of all the things which are obvi­ous to the Eye, would be a Task in vain for me to attempt, and impossi­ble to go through; so manifold are the Works of God, and so hidden is the Exquisiteness and Elegance of their Contexture. It may therefore suffice to instance only in two sorts of Crea­tures; Trees and Animals; some Ac­count whereof will serve as a short Specimen whereby we may judge a little of the admirable Wisdom of the [Page 305] Divine Mind, that hath so fitly and curiously contrived his Creatures for their respective ends.

1. Now the immediate Tendencies of Nature in every Tree are two fold, partly for the sustenance of the indi­vidual Plant, and partly for the in­crease of its Species or Kind. And ac­cordingly the Powers and Faculties of Nature are of two sorts; some for Nourishment, and some for Seminati­on. For the accomplishment of which ends, it cannot but affect us to consi­der how artificially the Vegetative Soul works, as if it were endued with Rea­son and Policy; which (because it is utterly void of) shews, that there is an Understanding Being over it, which doth direct and govern its Operations. There is, first, the Original Vehicle of Life, the Root, protended round about in­to the Bowels of the Earth, that through a Circle of innumerable Strings, as it were through Meseraick Vessels, it may suck up a spirituous Sap into an um­belical Receptacle, whence Nature doth methodically direct a Series of long porous Fibres all along the Trunk to each Arm and Twig, to each Joynt and Bud. Now the Use and Office [Page 306] of these Formations is discernible by their Effects, though they be hidden and fine in their Contexture, and my­sterious as to the manner of their O­perations. For, as in the radical Parts, Nature draws and receives its proper Nourishment, so by these it conveys and distributes it into all places, di­gesting it still in the way, the grossest Matter into Wood, the siner Particles into Leaves, and the more spirituous into Blossoms: And (as if Nature stu­diously and designedly provided not only for Necessaries, but against Acci­dents also) for the more effectual di­stribution of its Bounty, the Tree is cloath'd with a firm outward Bark, to defend its Life from extremities of Weather, and with a soft Rind with­in, to facilitate the ascent of the ten­der Juice. These Provisions being made for the preservation and growth of the Tree, the Seeds, which serve for the increase of its Species, follow. And these, for their greater safety, are accurately inclosed, some in a Vi­nous Liquor, others in a tough Mem­brane, others in a spungy Husk, others in a hard Shell, others in a pulpy Sub­stance, according to the quality of the [Page 307] Vegetable, whether it be better or worse, as the condition of the Seed is, whe­ther hardy or tender, and as the Wea­ther may prove, either severe or tem­perate; and as the Season is to be for the Maturity of the Fruit, whether Summer or Autumn, Nature seems in all its Operations to foresee to and fore­cast, and to consult, and to provide very carefully for the best; and yet it is a thing without any Understanding of its own; it moves with no more Deliberation or Thought than the Tide does. This is a plain Argument that there is an intelligent Agent over it, that first created it with its enlivening and forming Powers, and doth con­tinually use it as an Instrument in his Hand, to act according to the dire­ctions of his incomprehensible Wisdom; because otherwise 'twere unconceiva­ble how an irrational Principle could of it self design beneficial ends; how it could project an artificial Method to bring those Ends about; how it could make choice of suitable and proper means; how it could sit and connect all those means together so, that one thing serves in order to ano­ther, to assist and promote its Opera­tions; [Page 308] and all of them to be so cri­tically and accurately serviceable in order to the main end. These won­derful Contrivances speak Council and Art in the highest degree, and therefore impossible to belong to sense­less and undeliberating Matter, which is utterly uncapable of knowing both how to aim at useful purposes, and how to frame or order any thing of it self, after an useful manner; but goes on necessarily in a dark Road, as it is conducted, manag'd, and directed by a most wise Being, that is over it, and commands it by a perpetual Law.

2. To Creatures indued with Life only, as Trees and other Plants are, the next in Dignity of Nature are Ani­mals, or Creatures indued with Life and Sense too. Now in them, the only tendency of Nature which is proper for me to take notice of here, is their own preservation. In order whereunto these Three things are necessary. 1. A con­stant supply of Nourishment within. 2. A distinct perception of all outward Objects, that are either agreeable, or injurious to Nature. 3. A due per­fection and fitness in the Structure of the whole Body. And if we would [Page 309] consider with uncaptivated Minds, the stupendious contrivances which are in the Fabrick of every sensitive Creature, and especially in the frame of our own Bodies, in order to the preservation of Nature, we should not need any plain­er Evidences of a Deity, than those we carry continually about us. It is com­monly noted of Galen, that renowned Physician among the Old Pagans, That though he was no great Friend to the Religion of those times, yet he was throughly convinced that there is a God, and that God is a Being of absolute Goodness, of unsearchable Wisdom, and of insuperable Power. Which hearty acknowledgment he was led unto by observing the useful Frame and Dispo­sition of the World; and particularly the great usefulness of the parts of Ani­mals: On which Subject he wrote those excellent Books of his, which are so de­servedly celebrated. Therefore since Contemplations of this kind tend to such Divine Purposes, I hope I shall not be thought to go out of my Profession, if I take the cursory view of the Stru­cture of humane Bodies, in reference to those Three things, Nutrition, Percep­tion and Organization, which so neces­sarily [Page 310] and appositely tend to the preser­vation of each Individual.

Scepticks have been ever puzled, how from their own odd Principles to give the least tolerable account of the for­mation of an Animal; so various are its Parts, and all so admirable for their Contexture, Position, Figure, Shape and peculiar Offices, that indeed it would be ridiculous to attempt a Solu­tion of the whole Structure from the im­provident strokes of rude, stupid, and undirected Matter. To instance, 1. First in those Parts which serve for Nutri­tion, every one hath a Mouth ready pre­pared to receive his Food; a Palate to distinguish what is most agreeable; Teeth to cut and chew that which is solid; Salival Vessels to assist the mace­ration of that which is dry; Muscles at the Roots of the Tongue, to precipate the Food when throughly broken and commixt; a soft Tube, or Gullet made up of divers Coats, and variety of Fi­bres to convey it down; and a capaci­ous Stomach to ferment, concoct and digest it into sluent Chyle. To keep the Aliment from running out of its Ela­boratory before due Concoction, the lower Orisice of the Stomach is provi­ded [Page 311] with a Circle of Fibres, which they call a Sphincter to knit it up a little, till sufficient Fermentation transmits the Chyle by a gentle ascent into the Bow­els. To help Nature in its chymical Operations, the Heart is placed above the Stomach, the Pancreas below, the Liver on the Right-Side, the Spleen on the Left; all to promote Digestion and Expulsion, by joynt Ministrations of Heat from all Parts round about, and by a particular Ministration of an acid Humour (as some conceive) from the Spleen. Then for the Diffusion of theWalaeus de Motu Chyli, E­pist. 1. elaborated Matter, the same Divine Art which contrived the Parts preparatory, hath provided further Conveyances; that is, a Series and Duct of Entrails; which, though they be of great lengths, lye round in the Belly, with turnings and windings, in Complications and Circumvolutions, that by the long and gradual Progress of the Juice intended for Vitality, and by new Fermentati­ons of it in its way, it may be the better separated from the feculent and grosser Substance. And here we meet with a new, wonderful Idea; the Me­sentery, as it's called by Anatomists; meaning a most curious Net-work of [Page 312] innumerable, porous Strings, which fasten the Entrails together in a Circle, and with their gaping Orifices devour and drink up the spirituous Chyle throughout its Passage. Thence being convey'd through those somenting Parts, and spungy Kernels, the Clandules, the Supplement of Life, is by the constant Motions of the Diaphragm forced and drawn upwards again, but in a new way, some into the Liver, some into other Vessels, but mostly into a com­mon Receptacle, like a little Lake; whence it is carried on still further up­wardsW [...]eus, Ibid. towards the Neck, there to be discharged into a great Vein, or Canal of Blood. This constant course of the Chyle, prepared in the Stomach, and conducted through so many Vessels, was not discovered so exactly, and par­ticularly till some late Criticks in Ana­tomy made the strictest search. And though it may seem to lie out of a Divines way, yet because the Specula­tion is so useful and important in the Consequence, as well as diverting in it self; I shall for once venture upon it a little further. That milky Sub­stance, the Chyle, being now commixt, and swimming with the Blood, is in­stantly [Page 313] transmitted into the Right-Ventricle of the Heart, there (as some have thought) to be turned into per­fect Blood of the form of its Vehicle. Thence it runs through a Chanel into the Lungs, there to be enriched by impregnating Particles from the Air; whence it takes a circuit back again into the Left-Ventricle of the Heart; where being instantly Sublimated, and made highly Spirituous, it is ejected thence up into a great Artery, which by innumerable Branches conveys it spee­dily over the whole Body; there by the assistance and supply of more Spi­rits from the Nerves, to warm and com­fort, to enliven and invigorate, to feed and nourish the several Parts; and so the remainder returns to be supplied with fresh Chyle to the Heart again, through Veins, which though they be numberless, yet is the Circulation so quick that the Blood goes through the Heart (as a very learned Physician hathDr. Lower, de Cordc. computed it) no less than thirty times within the compass of and Hour. This I take to be the short account of Nutri­tion, especially in Man; wherein if there be any slight mistake, I submit to the Judgment of those of the noble Fa­culty [Page 314] and Profession, whose business it is to understand it much better.

And now considering the admirable usefulness of all those Parts which serve to these vital Purposes, I would ask any reasonable Person, Whether meer Chance, or blind Matter, or any thing else without the Skill and Providence of a most wise Being, could contrive such artificial and wonderful Methods, Conveyances, Instruments, and Vessels of such various Sorts; and all so cu­riously Formed, so orderly Disposed, and so exquisitely Connected and Fit­ted, to bring about such necessary and excellent Ends? If it be said, That all these things are done by Common, Ani­mal Nature; 'tis easily answered, That Nature, of its self, is without all Un­derstanding, utterly uncapable of Fore­cast, or Cogitation; and therefore shews that there is an intelligent Being over it, that erected and ordered the business of Nutrition, which common Nature ne­ver knew either how to perfect and fi­nish, or how to begin; nor indeed doth humane Reason it self help to carry it on. As for instance; A Man deliberates indeed what he shall eat, and what he shall drink; for these are Objects which [Page 315] fall under Consultation, or, at least, Fan­cy. But when once his Nutriment is cast down into the Stomach, there is an end of all deliberation, as to the man­ner of Digestion, and of turning the digested Matter into Blood and Spirits. In the whole Oeconomy of this Affair, Reason, hath not the least Hand; nor did any Man ever yet consider how he should convert his Food into Chyle, or convey it from the Stomach to the Me­sentery; or how he should there sepa­rate it, and so carry it to the Heart. The greatest Politician in the World never yet thought of managing this In­trigue. Nature indeed does the thing to his Hand: But because that Prin­ciple of Life, which we call Nature, is utterly void of all Policy and Thought, we must rationally conclude that there is a Being of excellent Knowledge and Wisdom (that is, a Deity) which hath contrived these Operations for Nature, and hath directed and fixt the Me­thods of them. If it be said again that Nature operates thus in a Mechani­cal way, by forcing and thrusting on the Chyle and Blood, like the Art and Method used in Water-works; it may be very reasonably demanded, Who in­vented [Page 316] this Art for Nature? Who at first put that unintelligent and blind thing upon it? And what Hand pre­pared that stupendious Course and In­struments it was to use, in order to the Animal's Nutrition? Nay, who con­trived the Animal it self, and designed the Nourishment of it? Or, if these Questions be not enough, we may very well ask the great Pretenders to Reason one more; viz. How the Circulation of the Blood, which is so Demonstra­ble is so constantly performed, and so quickly finish'd in its periodical Course? For here the greatest Artists are dividedDisp. de Deo. p. 462. in their Opinions, whether the reducti­on of the Blood to the Heart through the Veins be by the inosculation of the Veins and Arteries (an Opinion which seems to be out of Doors) or, by the porosities of the fleshy Parts; or by the systaltick Motion (as some call it) in the Veins themselves? As to this, Men of the best Skill are yet to seek how to give a clear and satisfactory Account of the manner of the Circulation of the Blood, though the Circulation it self be apparent; which to me is an Argu­ment, that the whole Method of Nu­trition in us was instituted, and is still [Page 317] carried on by a Divine Being, which hath made some things undiscoverable by humane Art; that by the Mysteries we find in Nature, we may be the more easily prevailed on to believe the subli­mest Truths in Religion.

2. Having thus observed the First thing which tends to the preservation of that Nature which is common to Man and Beast, the work of Nutrition that is performed in the Bowels: Let us in the next place consider briefly the Se­cond thing, or the Business of Sensa­tion that is performed in the Head; both inwardly in the Fancy, and out­wardly by the Instruments of Sensation, as the Eye, the Ear, and the like, which convey to the Fancy all sensible Objects from abroad. And here I must not be so vain as to pretend to give a distinct, accurate, and full account of all the operations of Nature, and of its hidden means, and manner of Work­ing. No, it is enough for one of my Profession to take such a summary no­tice of those things which serve for Sen­sation, as may satisfie any reasonable Person, that the whole Work of Sen­sation argues wonderful Wisdom and Contrivance; and consequently the [Page 318] Existence of a God. The Fancy then is the highest and most perfect Faculty of the Animal Soul (as the Under­standing is of the Rational.) An ima­gining, directing Power in every sen­sitive Creature, carrying in its Acts some faint resemblances of humane Reason, though it be quite destitute of it, and much inferiour to it. Its Seat is in the Brain; and its Uses are so great and necessary, that without it no Animal can answer the Inclinations and Purposes of its Nature. By this Faculty the Creature receives within it the Idea's, and Representations of ex­teriour Objects; perceives so much of their Qualities as exerts its Appetites, and in (some sort, after an obscure, imperfect manner, and in an unreflect­ing way) judgeth of things, whether they be Pleasant or Painful, Conveni­ent or Disagreeable, Beneficial or De­structive; in short, whether they be for its Enjoyment, or for its Hurt. And according as those Impressions are, which are thus made upon the Fancy, so does the Creature act; either cra­ving for the Object, or declining it; either embracing, or abhorring; either pursuing, or avoiding it; and either [Page 319] gratified with the Fruition, or grie­ving under the Pain which the Ob­ject affords. So that as the Heart is the Spring of all vital Motion; so is the Fancy the Spring of all animal Motions, both inward and external. Now, Can any reasonable Man believe, that this so useful a Faculty came accidentally into the Soul, meerly by nonsensical Combination of undesigning Atoms? Does it not rather shew, that the Ani­mal was endued with it by a wise Agent, that constituted and aimed at its Preser­vation? Especially if it be considered, that as it is a distinguishing Faculty in every Individual, whereby it perceives the difference between what is Good for it, or Injurious to it; so in every Species of Animals it is various; and yet. notwithstanding, that variety works in every one of the same kind after an uniform Manner. For that Object which is delightful to one sort of Animals, another is averse to; and whether it be desired or refused by one Individual, it is alike desired or refused by all of the same Species; which is a plain Argument that it was not Chance, but Divine Reason which formed that Internal Sense, the Fancy.

[Page 320]In the next place, let us take some (though it be but a transient) view of the Instruments, which are assistant and ministerial to transmit Impressions from without, to that Organ of the Soul, where this distinguishing Power, the Fancy is plac'd. Those Instruments are of two sorts, Nerves and Spirits. The Nerves or Sinews resemble so many hollow, winding Pipes, thro' which all Idea's and Notions of things abroad are convey'd to the Sense within. The original Complication and Bed of the Nerves is in the interiour Fabrick of the Brain, dividing there that soft, artificial Structure of Nature into di­vers Cells or Apartments, whence the great Branches of those Instruments of Sensation are extended outwardly thro' the Head by Pairs. That in each Ear serves to open a Passage to the Fancy for all sorts of Sounds, according to the va­rious Motions and Modifications of the Air. That Nerve in each Eye serves to let in the Idea's and Shapes of all visible Objects. Those which extend toward the lower parts of the Face, are to admit all kinds of Smells, and by variety of Ramifications, to govern [Page 321] the Taste, to move the Tongue in all its Vibrations, to assist the Lips, the Jaw, and all the Organs there, which help towards Nutrition. Others Diva­rications are into the Lungs and Wind­pipe, to preserve Respiration, to mo­dulate the Voice, and to serve for the Ejection of whatsoever is offensive to that sensible Fabricature. Others strike down into the Stomach and Heart, to pro­mote all Motions and Operations there. Others run lower, to be serviceable to the Bowels and Mesentery, that they may discharge their Functions. Others to the Liver, to the Reins, and to all the parts in their Neighbourhood. And others down the Neck to the exteriour parts of the Body, so that by innumera­ble streight, circular, and oblique Bran­ches, all over the Body, to the very Soul of the Foot; they are insinuated into all the Muscular Formations, which serve to move every Limb, Member, Joynt, and Particle.

And yet all this wonderful Plexure of Nerves would be of no real use, without the help of active, lively Spi­rits to invigorate all. And for the Extraction of these out of the Blood, provident Nature hath prepar'd (tho' [Page 322] not by any Providence of its own) pe­culiar Elaboratories in the Brain. As those Spirits which serve directly for the Ends and Uses of Life (and are therefore call'd Vital) are produced in the Region below; so are those Spirits which serve for Sense and Motion, (and are therefore call'd Animal Spirits) chymically prepar'd in that Supreme Region, which is the Seat of Sensation, the great Organ and Original of all those Motions which are in the seve­ral parts of the Body. There those Ministers of Nature are continually im­ployed in their various Ranks and Fun­ctions; nay in their several Cells too, that they may not disturb or interfere with one another in their respective Operations: And there, like Centinels about a Garison, they are upon the Watch, to give the Fancy notice from their several Divisions and Districts, of whatever may prove either grateful or offensive to Nature. Those in the Op­tick Tubes in the Eyes, convey all lu­cid Idea's to the Fancy: Those in the Hollow, and about the Drum of the Ear, all sorts of Sounds: Those in the Palate and Nostrils, every Taste and Odour; and those dispersed about in [Page 323] Nerves and Fibres over all the Body serve to convey the Sense of all Pain, or Pleasure; besides the manifold, stu­pendendious, and unaccountable Offi­ce▪ they do, both for the exterior parts, in order to all Muscular, and local Mo­tion; and for all the inward Vessels, in order to vitality.

And here I cannot well omit what an inquisitive Author hath observed,Disput. de Deo, P. 479. touching that mutual Relation, and ne­cessary Commerce, which is between the Brain, and those inferiour parts which are for the Ends and Operati­ons of Life: For though every Part by it self be form'd with most exqui­site Art for the Offices and Functions it is to perform, yet no part can an­swer its Ends, without the subservient Ministery and Assistance of others. Thus, unless the Heart supply the Head with Blood, it is impossible for the Brain either to produce Animal Spi­rits, or to sustain it self. Again; If the Brain did not pay a Tribute of Spirits to the Heart, 'twere impossible for the Heart to prepare that Blood. Again; Neither can the one prepare Blood, nor the other Spirits, unless the Stomach provides Chyle, and the Lungs [Page 324] Nitre. Nor again, can either Lungs or Stomach perform their Offices, unless both parts receive from Heart and Brain, Blood and Spirits. Since, there­fore, in the whole Labyrinth of this Contexture there is such admirable Excellence, and Curiosity of Contri­vance, each part so exquisitely form'd in it self, and all so intimately depend­ing upon one another, Good Lord! what could have been more wise­ly, more advantageously, more ar­tificially, more divinely designed and ordered?

And to confirm this yet further, it will not be amiss to consider transient­ly the wonderful Art of Nature in contriving the first principal Instru­ments of Nutrition and Sensation both. All we see depends upon Nourishment; and that is sought for by those Cra­vings in the Stomach which we call Hunger and Thirst. Now here lyeth a Mystery, how we come to be sensi­ble of these great Wants below? The immediate Causes of Appetite are al­lowed to be in the Stomach it self; and suppose it to proceed from an A­cid Humour there, which agitates and frets the Fibres upon Emptiness, yet [Page 325] the Enquiry is, How the Head comes to be sensible of these Cravings? Or, How and by what means it is that the Fancy in the Brain is affected with these Cravings in the Stomach, so that we feel and know the Necessities of Nature, which must be answer'd, or else the whole Fabrick will fall to the Ground? Why, the true Account is this; That there are immediate Instru­ments between the Stomach and the Brain, which convey to the Fancy the Sense of those Necessities which are be­low; I mean little Nerves, or porous Strings, which, (by the help of Ani­mal Spirits within them) move the Fancy above, as they themselves are moved by the Vellications or Twitch­ings of the Fibres beneath. On these poor Instruments the whole Being and Welfare of every Sensitive Creature doth originally depend; and so I would ask any Rational Creature, Whether the Formation of those Instruments in every Animal, could be the effect of blind Chance, or is not rather an Ar­gument of the most wonderful Reason and Wisdom, (that is, a Deity) dire­cting and governing the Works of Na­ture after such a stupendious manner, [Page 326] and to such providential Ends and Pur­poses, for the preservation of every Animal's Nature?

3. And this leads me to consider now the Third thing which tendeth there­unto, and exposeth to our View the great Wisdom and Contrivances of a God; namely the due perfection and Fitness which is in the Structure of a Sensitive Creature's Body, I mean still in order to its own Preservation, or to the Support of the Individual. And here it passeth my little Skill, and per­haps the greatest Skill of all the most inquisitive Men upon Earth, to give you a distinct particular View of eve­ry wise Work. Therefore it will be enough for me to give you a rough Draught, an imperfect Specimen and Idea.

And, to speak first of the useful, perfect, and fit Fabrication of the Head, that great Fort of Nature, which is provided like a Citadel on high, for the defence and safety of all the other Works: There we find such Excellence in the Frame, such Art in the Con­trivance, and such variety of Uses throughout the whole Building, as plainly [Page 327] shews the Hand and Wisdom of a Di­vine Architect; as an hairy Scalp, to keep all the interiour Parts in due warmth; a Skull, to guard them from violence; a tough Membrane over it, to help the making of Reparation for acts of Battery; another Membrane they call the Pia Mater, within, to Coat the Nerves, to divide the Brain into Partitions, and to keep the vo­latile Spirits at home, to do their pro­per Offices for Sense, Life, and Moti­on: There we find too, innumerable Branches of Arteries, to carry Blood all over for the Sustenance of every Part, and for the extracting of Spirits; as many Branches of Veins also, to car­ry off the phlegmatick Matter left, that it may be invigorated anew; Glan­dules, like so many Spunges, to drink up superfluous Moistures, and to cast them into their respective Sinks; be­sides an intricate Series of Nerves, which I spake of before, divaricated round about, and laid, like Pipes, in their proper Cavities, to help Sensati­on from abroad. Of these, if we take some notice of one only, it will enable us to conceive something the better of the artificial Contrivance of the rest, I [Page 328] mean the Nerve Optick, that serves to convey the Species of all visible Objects, into the Brain. It is inserted into the Bulb of the Eye a little side­ways, or in an oblique Posture, as most convenient for clear Vision. Thence it spreads it self into Ramifications in­finite, partly into those various Bran­ches which assist the six Muscles of the Eye, that it may move six several ways, to receive Impressions from all Objects, and partly into a vast variety of Fi­bres, which make various Coats; all of them transparent, and without any Tincture (outwardly) of their own, to let in Light and Colours in their pro­per Idea's, that Vision may be the more distinct and clear, and that the Fancy may not be deceived. The exteriour or horny Coat is made of a Convex Figure, to admit Rays from all parts round about. In the second or Uve­ous Coat, is the Pupil, commonly cal­led the Sight of the Eye; a round and narrow part, provided for the ga­thering of the Rays into a Concourse; and about this Pupil is the Iris, made up of Ciliary Processes, like a Circle of the finest Hairs; by the Motion of which Fibres, the Sight of the Eye is [Page 329] sometimes contracted, and at other times dilated, according as the splendid Object is near or remote, or as the Splen­dor it self is greater or lesser. Besides these, is that they stile the Retiform Coat (because it resembles the most curious Net-work) next to the Visionary Nerve, somewhat capacious, to give room for the necessary Proportions of the Idea; and of a dark Colour round about within, to prevent the Reflexion of the Light: And within these various Coats are various Humours, which serve so artificially to refract all the incident Rays, and to transmit the Species of every visible Object to the Fancy in a regular Form, that in all Ages the Structure of this little Member, the Eye, hath been to the Admiration and Astonishment of the best Anatomists.

Now by this we may guess at the won­derful Structure of those other Instru­ments, which serve for Sensation in the Head. And if we descend lower, What a World of Wonders do we meet with there? Were I to instance only in the Contexture of the Hand, 'twere enough to shew the Existence of a God. How useful is this outward Member to defend the Senses, and to [Page 330] preserve the very Life of Man; it be­ing employ'd about all Works, and ex­ercising all Arts that serve for our Ne­cessities and Convenience, and even for our Humour and Curiosity? Galen and others have particularly observed the artificial Fabrication of the Hand, and the wonderful fitness of all Things in it for their several Uses; the fit Propor­tion and Disposition of it to lay hold on any Objects whether great or small; the sit Division and Number of the Fin­gers; the sit Magnitude, Quantity, Variety and the Figure of the Bones; the fit Numbers and Filletings of the Joynts; the fitness of the Muscles, Tendons and Nerves, for the moving and turning of the Hand every way as occasion re­quires; the fitness of the Flesh, Skin, and the very Nails, for their respective Offices; and upon the whole they con­clude, that no Art could possibly have contrived this Member better, or more appositely for its Uses; and that great Inconveniencies must have followed, had any thing in it been otherwise than just as every thing is.

If now with this Hand you dissect the Lungs of an Animal, you may see the stupendious Wisdom and Skill that [Page 331] is shewn in the contrivance of that whole pendulous Fabrick; for the drawing in, and digesting the nitrous Particles of the Air; for the dispersing of it into every Lobe and lesser Recep­tacle; for respiration by the alternate shrinking and stretching of the Fibres there; for conveying Blood out of the Heart, and back again into it; for go­verning and modulating the Voice; for keeping the Wind-pipe continually open by circular Cartilages, or Grisles; and for defending it by a muscular Membrane at the Roots of the Tongue, which upon occasion shuts down like a Clap-door to keep every thing but Air from descending into the Lungs.

To your Fingers ends you feel the pulsations of the Heart, on which de­pends the Circulation of the Blood, that is the immediate Spring and Prop of Life. And did you distinstly per­ceive the manner of its quick course from the Heart round to the Heart a­gain: Did you see the texture of the Arteries, which serve to carry it off; the intricate passages of it, even through the little Cavities of the Bones; the Force whereby it is propelled and dri­ven on forward upon every new pulsa­tion; [Page 332] the watery Particles which drop into it by the way to thin it, and thereby to assist its Motion: Those Ves­sels they call the Glandules and Lym­phaeducts, out of which those watery Particles are derived; the conveyan­ces by which it runs out of the Arteries into innumerable Veins, and little bran­ches of Veins; the Valves in them which keep it from flowing back; the frame and windings of those Ca­nals, which lead it on to the Heart; the opening of the Heart to receive it, when 'tis come to the Door of the Right-Ventricle; and those muscular Membranes, the Valves, which are so artificially provided to open forward into that Ventricle to let the Blood in, and then shut to like Trap-doors, to hinder the Blood from Recoyling the same way; Did you, I say, distinctly perceive all this mysterious Process and Structure, no more would be needful to make you sensible of the great Reasons which the holy Psalmist had for those Expressions, Psal. 139. 14. O Lord, I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and won­derfully made; marvellous are thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well.

[Page 333]Besides these Miracles of Divine Wis­domBish. Wil­kin's Nat. Rel. p. 81. within us, I might lead you on to a further view of the various Fortifications of Nature, which are more outward: A Structure of Six hundred several Mus­cles; in each whereof are at least Ten several Intentions, or due Qualificati­ons to be observed; proper Figures, just Magnitude, right Disposition of its several Ends, upper and lower position of the Whole, the insertion of its pro­per Nerves, Veins, and Arteries, which are each of them to be duly placed; so that about the Muscles alone, no less then Six thousand several Ends or Aims are to be attended to. The Bones are reckoned to be Two hun­dred eighty four: The distinct Scopes or Intentions in each of these, are a­bove Forty; in all about an Hundred thousand. And thus is it in some proportion with all the other Parts, the Skin, Ligaments, Vessels, Glan­dules, Humours; but more especially with the several Members of the Body, which do in regard of the great Varie­ty and Multitude of those several In­tentions required to them, very much exceed the homogeneous Parts. And the failing of any one in these, would [Page 334] cause an irregularity in the Body, and in many of them such as would be very notorious.

But because I have just mentioned the pulsations of the Heart, I shall close up this Speculation, by observing a little the amazing Works of Nature there. As the Sun isCor principium vi­tae & Sol microcosmi (ut proportionabili­ter Sol cor Mundi ap­pellari meretur) cu­jus virtute & pulsu Sanguis movetur, per­ficitur, vegetatur, & à corruptione & gru­mefactione vindica­tur▪ suum (que) Officium nutriendo, fovendo, vegetando toti corpo­ri praestat Lar ille fa­maliaris, fundamen­tum vi [...]ae, auctor o­mnium. Harv. de Mortu Cordis, Exerc. 1. Cap. 8. to this lower World, so is the Heart to every sensitive Crea­ture a Fountain of Life; by the Vertue and Motion where­of the Blood is moved, per­fected, invigorated, preser­ved from Corruption, and performs its Office by nouri­shing, cherishing and invigo­gorating the whole Body. After the opening of the Heart, to let the Blood in on the Right-side, there follows a strong Constriction, or Shutting up of the Heart to throw it out on the Left: And that vibration or beating which we feel then, is usually called the Pulse; whereby the Blood is cast and forced into all Parts, for Nutrition every where, and to cause its return round about to the Heart again, when all Parts have been fed with some Porti­ons [Page 335] of it. Now let any reasonable Man view distinctly the contexture and frame of an Animal's Heart; and then let him lay his Hand upon his own, and ask his Conscience seriously whether any thing but the highest Reason and Wisdom could contrive that little, but most necessary Member, for its respe­ctive Uses. For the clearing of this, let us consider a little the artificial Works of Nature, both at the first for­mation and motions and of the Heart, and in its subsequent Operations.

1. And First, As to the primordial Rudiments of this great Prop of Life. Suppose the Original Principle of Life to be inclosed within a round muscular Substance, (like a little Bladder) which in time becomes a full, perfect Heart. Suppose (what a most LearnedHarv. de Motu Cordis, Exer. 1. cap. 4. & cap. 17. Anatomist tells us) this small muscular Substance (like a drop of Blood, or a Red Point) to palpitate, stir and beat, and by that Motion to form directly those Side Vessels above upon the Basis of the Heart, which they call the Au­ricles, or Ears, and which are the next Parts that move. Suppose all this as plain Matter of Fact, we must conclude [Page 336] hence, That this Motion thus exerted, communicated, and carried on, is per­formed by those contrivances of Na­ture, which are the necessary Instru­ments of Motion; and consequently that those Instruments are already in being. And what, think you, are those Contrivances? Why, they go under the name of Fibres; and are in every Heart that is fully formed, like the fi­nest Threads; and therefore may be well supposed to be at the first forma­tion hardly so big as the finest Hairs. On these small, exquisite Instruments of Motion, the Lives of Men, and o­ther Animals originally and constantly depend: And as they either stretch or shrink, so does the whole Heart open or shut; and so does that Vehicle of Life, the Blood, run. Without these Fibres, or Heart-strings, 'twere impos­sible for the Punctum Sanguineum, or that first Rudiment of an Animal, like to a drop of Blood, to vibrate, or move, or exert its Faculty; much less to fa­shion an Auricle, which is a Fibrous Part also, that opens and shuts, to let in, and force out the Blood, as the Heart it self does, which immediately receives the Blood from it. And now [Page 337] to argue hence a little, What do these artificial beginnings of Nature shew, but the wonderful Wisdom, Skill and Power of a Divine Mind, and conse­quently the Existence of a God, that does order all the least Tendencies to Life af­ter such an exact, exquisite, and stupendi­ous manner? For though in all this, Nature be the immediate Agent; yet that is of it self a blind, unthinking, inartificial Thing. Though it be an active, vivisick, formative Principle (whatever the Substance of it be, whe­ther material, or not) yet it is with­out all Consciousness, all Sagacity, all Forecast and Knowledge; and there­fore cannot be supposed to contrive, or project, or to act by any Wisdom of its own. And yet so wise are those Contrivances, which are the Origen of every Animal's Life; so admirably De­signed, so sitly, and appositely Formed in order to their Ends; that the whole Fabrication shews it to come from the Counsel, Will and Direction of a most intelligent Being, in whose Hand Na­ture is, and under whom it Operates. It requires no little Art to dissect an Heart after a proper manner; to ex­pose these Rudiments of Life to your [Page 338] view; to shew you their Dependencies upon Tendons, their Figures, Positi­ons, and Intertextures; and after all this Curiosity to delineate them upon Paper, and to give you with a Pen a little Resemblance and Idea of them; this is enough to exercise and shew the Skill of the wisest Artist upon Earth: And then, How great must the Wisdom and Skill of that intelligent Agent be, who so admirably contrived the Original Formation and Structure of them?

2. As to subsequent Operations of Nature for the perfecting of the Heart, with all its Parts and meer Appenda­ges, we are told that by the first Pulsa­tions of the springing Heart, the Parts of an Animal being now laid out and formed gradually, that prime Vessel of Life increaseth, and comes to discharge its Office to the full, being now well furnished with all Necessaries for it; so that as one Ear receives the Blood out of a great Vein, and then by its Constriction sends it out into the Right-Bosom of the Heart; so that Heart by its own Constriction forceth it thence into the Lungs; whence it is agitated round [Page 339] into the Left, and so transmitted into the other Bosom, thence to cast by a new constriction into an Artery they call the Aorta, which like a great Pipe, laid into a Fountain, conveys it into many others; by which means every Particle over the whole Body is fed, ir­rigated and refreshed. All which won­derful Works of Nature are perfomed immediately by the Fibres, those Instru­ments of Motion I spake of before; which, the Heart being now grown corpulent, act with violence, and are strong and visible; some lying in di­rect Lines from the tip of the Heart to the Crown; others cross wise in the form of a Circle; others in Oblique, or winding Lines: All meeting within the tip, as in a knot or center, and fastned above to round Tendons, like Strings tied to an Hoop: So that the Heart be­ing full of Blood, as the tip makes its efforts upwards; so all the Fibres con­spire from every Part by a joynt Com­pressure to throw the Blood out, and then dilate themselves again for the Reception of a new Supplement; and by this alternate Motion of these Fi­bres, every Minute is the Life of Man preserved.

[Page 340]I cannot well omit one very material Observation more, concerning these artificial Contrivances which argue the Existence of a most wise Being, the Au­thor and Director of Nature; and it is this, That in all the innumerable Canals of Blood, which transmit it to and from the Heart, there are (as indeed in the several Conveyances of the Chyle) muscular Membranes, or Valves, provi­ded (I cannot compare them better than to Sluce-doors) which open always be­fore the Current, to let it pass forward; but upon occasion shut, to hinder it from returning the same way. And this is especially observable in those Vessels which are in and about the Heart, where the Constrictions and Pulsati­ons being so violent, would cause the vital Stream to slow back, did not the shutting of these Valves prevent it, before every Pulsation: Hence it is that the Blood is forced onwards, and is circulating every Moment; these Sluce-doors stopping all Reflux, and a Flood behind them still pressing on, till the Heart by its Constrictions eva­cuates it self, and drives the Current forward still, somewhat like an En­gine in Water works, which (together [Page 341] with the other remarkable effects of Nature) shews, that every the least Part within us is most wisely sitted for its proper Use, and that the whole Structure is so congruously ordered, that nothing is vain, impertinent, or superfluous; nothing that can be spa­red without disturbance, damage, and danger to the Fabrick; and conse­quently that there is nothing, but what is an Evidence of Counsel, Foresight and astonishing Skill in a superior A­gent, framing and directing Nature af­ter a most excellent manner; that is, a Deity.

I have taken the Liberty to venture upon these Anatomical Speculations (though some may think them a little too much out of my way) partly to raise in Peoples Minds the greater Sense of God, by the stupendious Operati­ons of his Hands, which they carry a­bout with them, and which they find at home in their own Bodies; partly to excite them to all Acts of Praise and Thankfulness for such Miracles of God's Providence; and partly to move them to all Sobricty and Regularity of Life. Intemperance and Debaucheries are quite distant from the Ends of our For­mation, [Page 342] and utterly inconsistent with the Reasons of it, nay destructive of them. And therefore People should be very careful not to abuse so excellent a piece of Workmanship, on which such Elegance of Art and Care has been be­stowed; especially considering how weak the Stamina Vitoe, all the Threads are on which our Lives depend; how frail, as well as curious, the whole Web of Nature is; and how soon we may be forced away to the Divine Tribu­nal, should but a few Fibres break.

But to evade the force of this whole Argument for the Existence of a God, lewd Scepticks are ready to tell us, from that old Epicurean and Atheist, Lucretius, That though many good U­ses of things have been sound out, and the things are sitly apply'd to those uses, yet these uses were never design'd, but fell out casually; and consequent­ly are no proof of an understanding, intending Cause, or a Deity. And to this purpose a learned Writer gives anDr Cud­worth, In­tel Syst. p. 690, 691. Account of these Men's Principles or Shifts, viz. That nothing in Man's Bo­dy was made out of design for any use; but that all the several parts thereof happening to be so made as [Page 343] they are, their uses were consequent thereupon. The former Teeth (say they) were made by material and me­chanical Necessity thin and sharp, by means whereof they became sit for cut­ting; and the Jaw-Teeth thick and broad, whereby they became useful for the grinding of Food: But neither of them were intended to be such for the sake of their uses, but hapned by Chance only. And the like they affirm con­cerning all the other Parts of the Bo­dy, which seem to be made for Ends.

To which that learned Person re­plies, That though a thing that hap­pens accidentally to be so or so made, may afterwards, notwithstanding, prove often serviceable for some use or other, yet when any thing consisteth of ma­ny Parts that are all artificially pro­portionated together, and with much Curiosity accommodated one to ano­ther; any one of which Parts having been wanting, or otherwise in the least placed or disposed of, would have ren­dred the whole altogether inept for such a use; then may we well conclude it not to have been made by Chance, but by Counsel and Design, and inten­tionally [Page 344] for such uses: As for Example; the Eye, whose Structure and Fabrick consisting of many Parts, (Humours and Membranes) is so artificially compos'd, that no reasonable Person who consi­ders the whole Anatomy thereof, and the Curiosity of its Structure, can think otherwise of it, but that it was made out of Design, for the Use of Seeing; and did not happen accidentally to be so made, and then the use of Seeing follow. And for a Man to think, that not only Eyes happened to be so made, and the use of Seeing uninten­ded followed, but also that in all the same Animals, Ears happened to be made so too, and the use of Hearing followed them; and a Mouth and Tongue happened to be made so like­wise, and the use of Eating, and (in Men) of Speaking, was also acciden­tally consequent thereupon; and that Feet were in the same Animals made by Chance too, and the use of walk­ing followed; and Hands made in them by Chance also, upon which so many necessary Uses depend: Besides innumerable other Parts of the Body, both Similar and Organical; none of which could have been wanting, with­out [Page 345] rendring the whole inept or use­less; I say, to think all these things should happen by Chance to be thus made in every one and the same Ani­mal, and not design'd by Mind or Counsel, that they might joyntly con­cur, and contribute to the good of the whole; this argues the greatest insen­sibility of Mind imaginable. But this absurd and ridiculous Conceit hath been long since so industriously confu­ted by that larned Pagan Philosopher and Physician, Galen, in his Book of the Use of Parts, that it would be al­together superfluous to insist any more upon it.

I shall only add, for the Confirma­tion of all this, that in the several Species of Animals (both Men and Beasts) many Parts are totally want­ing in some Individuals, where they would have been neither necessary nor useful, which are not wanting in others where they are so; which shews that those Parts were intended for uses, and for their proper uses only they were therefore formed, not by Chance, but by the greatest Counsel and Wis­dom; that is, by the wise Contrivance of a Divine Mind. Nay, in some whole [Page 346] Species there is a manifest difference, where there is good reason for that difference; a plain Argument, that it was Divine Reason which ordered all things so very exactly for the sake of Ends, and with an intention to have those Ends and purposes answer'd. As for instance; many Sensitive Creatures, (nay, a very strict Enquirer into Na­tureHarvey de motu Cord. c. 6. tells us, the greater number of Ani­mals) have no Lungs at all, as various sorts of Fishes. The reason is, because Lungs would be of no use to them; for their manner of Respiration is per­formed by the opening and shutting of their Gills. Again; some sorts of Animals (as several kinds of Worms) have no Heart neither: The reason is, because a Heart also would be of no use to those Creatures; for, as they gather, so they dispose of their Nou­rishment by Contracting and Relax­ing their little Bodies; and consequent­ly there is in them no Circulation of the Blood, nor indeed any need of it; and so they have no need of a Heart to throw it about into their extreme Parts. Again; though many sensitive Creatures, (as Fish and others) which have no Lungs, have an Heart notwith­standing, [Page 347] yet the same learned Author observes, that in all such Creatures the Heart hath but one Ventricle or Bo­som; whereas in Men, and in some o­ther Animals, it hath two: The rea­son is, because where there are two, the Right Ventricle serves to transmit the Blood into the Lungs, (as they send it about again to the Left Ventricle) But where Lungs are wanting, there a Right Ventricle would lie idle and unserviceable to any good End or Purpose; and therefore Nature forms it not in those Animals, one Ca­vity being enough for the Reception and Distribution of the Blood. Again; as the Heart of Man is connected to the Lungs, so does it lie cover'd over in a soft Membrane, like a Case or Purse; 'tis call'd the Pericardium, where­in is a Watery Substance, (as 'tis gene­rally thought) to moisten and temper the Heart, that it may not be parch'd or render'd unfit for its Office, by inordinate Heats. But 'tis observ'd, that the Heart of a Brute is withoutDisp. de Deo, p. 458 such a Case; and the reason perhaps is twofold, partly because the Nou­rishment of a common Animal is not so strong, nor the Blood so inflaming [Page 348] as to need Refrigeration there, part­ly because the Heart of such a Crea­ture lying not in an exact Posture, as in Man, but lengthwise, (according to the Figure of the Body) and pressing somewhat upon the Diaphragm; were a Pericardium added, it might hinder the Diaphragm from moving freely, especially in its Constrictions. To all which I shall subjoin but two Obser­vations more, and the one is this; that in Animals which chew the Cud, there is wanting an upper Range of Teeth. The reason is, because it wou'd be useless; for those Animals fetching up again (by the Peristaltick recipro­cal Motion of the Stomach) their un­concocted, unmacerated Food, do, by a continued and gentle Rumination, as well prepare their Nourishment for Digestion, as other Creatures do theirs by a double Row of Grinders. The other I borrow of a Pious and Critical Naturalist, who speaking of the Arti­ficialMr. Ray's Wisdom, &c. p. 46. and Wonderful Conformation of the Wind-pipe, observes, that lest the asperity or hardness of its Cartilages should hurt the Oesophagus or Gullet, which is tender, and of a skinny Sub­stance, or hinder the swallowing down [Page 349] of Meat, therefore its annulary Gri­stles are not made every where round and entire Circles; but where the Gul­let touches the Wind-pipe, there to fill up the Circles, is only a soft Mem­brane, which may easily give way to the dilatation of the Gullet. And to demonstrate that this was designedly done for this End and Use, so soon as the Wind-pipe enters the Lungs, its Cartilages are no longer deficient, but perfect Circles or Rings, because there is no necessity for them to be other­wise there (at a distance from the Meat) but more convenient they should be (in their Divarications) entire.

The Scope and Meaning of these things is, in short, to shew, that though that energetick and forming Power or Principle, which we call Nature, doth act without any Counsel, Design, Advice, or Deliberation of its own, yet in its Operations it worketh so Methodically and Artificially, in order to good Ends and Purposes, that in its ordinary Proceedings, nothing can be found which is useless and superfluous; nothing which is not necessary, pro­per, or convenient; nothing but [Page 350] what there is some reason for; no­thing but what great Wisdom would direct; and by consequence, that there is a most Wise, Directing Being over it, who does preserve, assist, and go­vern it in its orderly, but blind Ope­rations: For what Man in his Senses can conceive, that an intelligent and directing Cause hath no Hand at all in Works wherein we see such excel­lent Ends so exactly answered, and such suitable Means so cleverly used, and every thing so wisely and admira­bly well done? How is it possible for any considering Man to imagine, That the Instruments of Breathing should be so curiously formed by meer Acci­dent? That the casual impulse of the Air should break upon the Nostrils, and bore the Passages and Meanders of Sensation? That Chance, and no­thing but foolish Chance, should pre­pare a Mouth, and furnish a Mouth with all things necessary and apt? That nothing but unadvised Fortune, or unadvised Nature, (which alone is as uncertain of its Hits, as Fortune is) should so orderly and exquisitely provide a Stomach for the Reception of Food; Materials to concoct it; a [Page 351] Labyrinth of Conveyances, to carry it off; a politick Duct of many Ves­sels to refine it; a Machine of Cu­riosities, to distribute and disperse it into all Parts? But—here I stop: For I have spoken of these things already; and though the Chyle takes a Round, and the Blood a Circulation, yet this Discourse must admit of none; and therefore thus much shall suffice to be spoken concerning the great usefulness of all things, and especially of those things which tend to the preservation of Man and Beast.


THE great Utilities of the things in Nature having been thus largely and particularlarly considered, together with their apt and excellent Frame, in order to their uses, one would now think, that no more should be necessary to shew the Existence of a most Wise and Good God. However, it will not, I hope, be unprofitable for the Confirmation of your Faith in that absolutely perfect Being, if I proceed (though but in a summary way) to the utmost extent of this Subject; at least, as far as to those Bounds which were propos'd at my first Entrance upon it. The more we look into the Works of God, the more apt we shall be to admire, adore, and love him; whence it was that the devout Psal­mist made it his business to think of all his Works; to meditate and muse upon them; to declare and set them forth; to talk (familiarly) of them; and to invite all People to behold and consider them: And he lookt upon it as a great Cause of the Wickedness of [Page 353] those ungodly and deceitful Men he spake of, Psalm 28. That they regard not in their minds the works of the Lord, nor the operation of his hands. Let us therefore go on to the next thing which falls under our Meditati­ons, and that is, touching those Re­semblances of Knowledge and Wis­dom which appear in the Operations even of irrational Creatures, that they may answer their uses, and bring their ends about. For if it be considered, that such Beings are utterly void of all Understanding which is properly called Rational, and yet act so Me­thodically and Artificially, as if they had Reason, Judgment, and Discreti­on of their own, it must follow, that they are guided and governed by a Superiour Being, which is intellectu­al, and whose Reason is the Law they act by. Here then we are to ob­serve these two following things, which shew the Resemblances of Know­ledge and Wisdom in Creatures Irra­tional. 1. Their constant Regularity as to the manner of their Operations. And, 2. Their seeming Sagacity as to the ends of them.

[Page 354]1. First, Their constant Regularity, as to the manner of their Operations. There are no Creatures (Devils and Men excepted) but what act uniform­ly and steadily by a certain Rule, ac­cording to their Natures, whether they be Inanimate or Vegetative, or Beings indued with Sense, we see they observe their Laws; as well those general Laws which are for the Order and Preser­vation of the whole Universe, as those special Laws which are peculiar and proper to their several Kinds. To this purpose I have already taken notice of the constant regular Motion of the Celestial Bodies, and therefore shall not need to have any farther Recourse to them; though it be an astonishing thing to consider, that such vast mul­titudes of immense Bodies, all void both of Intellectual and Sensitive Fa­culties, and several of them moving in a manner different from the rest, should for so long a Tract of Time, observe their Lines so uniformly and exactly, that for these Six Thousand Years there hath not been the least variation of their Courses. Of this no other rational Account can be given, [Page 355] but that there is a superintending Be­ing above, under whose commanding Power they always have been, and to whose Will they yield entire and abso­lute Obedience. Since they know not their Law themselves, it must follow, that there is a God who knows it for them, and keeps them to it.

Of those Inanimate, or Live-less things which are in the Earth, I shall instance only in the regular inclination, or tendency of the Loadstone; the greatest Wonder which the Earth af­fords. And (not to enumerate all those strange Faculties and Powers, which some curious Naturalists have discovered in it, especially in these last Ages) that which is most pertinent to my present purpose is, that is constant­ly affects the same Position towards the Poles of the Earth, which was Natu­ral to it before it was taken out of the Bowels of its Mother Rock: So that where ever it be carried it will (if it hath its liberty to move) still direct its Points towards the North and South, as it lay Originally, and as the Earth it self lyes. If you hang it in the Air by a String, or set it in some floating in­closure on the surface of Water, it will [Page 356] never be at rest, but stir and quaver on till its Points answer to the North and South; as if it were Conscious of a Right which Nature gave it, to one particular, determinate Situation. Nor is this all; for (as if it communicated its seeming Consciousness) every Needle of a Sea-Compass, or of a moveable Sun-Dial, that is touched by the Load­stone, will affect the same Direction, and restlesly incline to the same Points. A wonderful Secret in Nature, and unaccountable hitherto by meer Prin­ciples of Philosophy; and yet that which has been vastly Beneficial to the Trading and Travelling part of Man­kind, since the Discovery of it in Fact. And what can all the Scepticks in the World do here with their senseless Atoms? When all is done, This strange Mystery in Nature must be as­cribed to the Power and Pleasure of a Divine Agent that hath given every thing a Law; that is, hath imprest up­on all Matter a fatal Necessity of mo­ving according to that energetick Principle, wherewith he himself en­dued it.

[Page 357]The constant regularity of all things upon the surface of the Earth, is obvi­ous to every Man's eye. We see that Plants germinate, grow, and seminate exactly according to their several Kinds; and though the manner of their Ope­rations, and the quality of their Pro­ductions be as different, as their Spe­cies; yet in each Species every par­ticular individual worketh such as the rest of the same sort do; as if every distinct Species had set it self a distinct Rule; and as if every individual had consented to one and the same com­mon Polity. In like manner every Spe­cies of Animals acteth still after the same rate; though their particular, and proper Rules be different; yet one and the same Rule belongs to every Ani­mal of the same Species, which they constantly observe without any diffe­rence, difformity, or variation. For as each sustains it self after the same manner, and with the same sort of Food, which belongs properly to the whole, and is peculiar to the whole Species and Set; so each propagates its Kind the same way; preparing for Pro­pagation by the same Methods; breed­ing their Young at the same Seasons; [Page 358] nourishing them with the same Matter; training them up, and providing for them by the same pretty Artisices which are used by all others of the same Rank and Order. Go, for instance, but to the Fowls of the Air, and you may ob­serve how regularly and accurately each individual Bird operates, according to those Laws, which are common to that particular Species whereunto it belongs. From the Raven to the Sparrow every peculiar Species hath its peculiar Rules for its increase; and every one par­ticular Bird yields the most exact Obe­dience to those Rules: Not the least difference is to be found in the Bigness, or Colour, or Form of any one Egg; nor any difference in the Building wherein it is laid: But the same Pro­portions are in it all, the same Situa­tion, the same Materials, the same Shape, the same Structure within, the same Defensatives without, the same Curiosity of Art over and in it all; hard­ly a Stick, or an Hair difference; no discernible variation to be found, as to Plaistering, or Garniture, or Moss, or whatever else the Integument be. As a great City, or Society of Men, is divided into several distinct Fraterni­ties, [Page 359] and each Fraternity is Governed, as by general Laws for the Interest and Welfare of the whole Community, so by particular Orders for the Prosperity and Good of the distinct Company, in conformity whereunto every single Member acteth; so is this lower World divided into many distinct Ranges of Creatures; and each Range in Nature hath its Laws given it; some which re­late to the general Good of the whole Universe; and others that relate to the particular Good of every distinct Clas­sis: And these Laws are exactly obey­ed by every individual Creature; so that were Man out of the way, there would be no Being in this visible World, but what would be Regular, Orderly, and Conformable to its Rules; though Man be the only Creature that under­stands his Rules.

And can all this Regularity be with any pretence of Reason ascribed to an unintending Cause, or to blind Chance, that never did any one thing by Rule since the World stood; and therefore can never be thought to act Uniformly in every Creature constantly, and in all Instances? No; these Operations so exactly Congruous and Regular, are a [Page 360] plain Argument of the Existence of a directing Deity, and a real Explicati­on of that Divine Benediction and Command, which Moses says was given at the Creation: That the earth should bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit-tree yielding fruit after its kind; that every winged fowl should multiply after its kind; and that every living creature should be brought forth af­ter his kind; cattel and creeping things, and beasts of the earth, all after their kind; and it was so. Those Producti­ons were regular then, and so they are still, and will continue so to the end of the World; being no other but so many constant, and visible Executions of an Original Law.

2. Besides this great Regularity of things in the manner of their Opera­tions, we must consider next the seem­ing Sagacity of them, as to the ends of their Operations; which is another Expression of the resemblances of Knowledge and Wisdom in Creatures that are Irrational. All Creatures work, as if they understood the Reason of their methodical Proceedings; nay, as if they proposed Ends to themselves, [Page 361] and intended by such and such Means to bring all their Projects and Purpo­ses to pass; chiefly to preserve their own Being, and then to continue their Kind, and to provide a Posterity to succeed them, when either natural Death, or Casualties shall take them off, that no part of the Creation may be lost. It is observable of all Vegetables in general, that from the opening of the Spring they begin and carry on their methodical Works, as if they knew be­forehand all the business they are to do the next Summer; and as if they inten­ded to answer the Ends now mention­ed: First by taking care for their own Growth; and then for Semination. And it is observable in particular of di­vers Pulses, and other Plants, whose Natures are so weak and feeble, that they cannot stand upright of themselves, that, as if they were sensible of their Infirmity, they shoot forth into various Fibres, Strings, and twining Branches, which bear no Fruit, but are designed to take hold and clutch on some Poll, or Wall, or on some neighbouring Shrub, for the support of the Vegeta­ble, and for its better Sustenance and Semination: In all which Nature works [Page 362] with so much seeming Caution, Pru­dence and Forecast, that if it had Rea­son of its own, it could not operate with greater Art. And then for sensi­tive Creatures, we see with Admira­tion what resemblances of Wisdom and Providence there are in their Actions. Go to the ant, thou sluggard, (saith Solo­mon) consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest, Prov. 6. 6, 7, 8. In the Common Edition of the Septuagint, it is there added, Go to the bee, thou sluggard, and learn what an opificer that is, and how stupendious its works are. Those curious Observers who have narrowly look'd into the Nature and Polity of that Animal, have given such accounts of it, that one would think it to be next to Man him­self, the most admirable Creature in the World; though our chief Good be reserved for us in another World; and therefore are to be excused, if they speak of it in that manner, as if it were a Rational Agent With what Sagacity doth it perceive, when its Labours are to begin, and where its Employ­ment is to lie chiefly? And how ar­tificially [Page 363] doth it order all its oeco­nomical Affairs? Its first Care is for a Repository to lay up its Stores, and to breed its Young in. And with what Curiosity doth it search after the viscous Matter? How skilfully doth it gather and prepare the Wax? And then with what mathematical Exact­ness doth it dispose it in various Apart­ments of Combs and Cells, all so ac­curately contrived for Strength, Fi­gure, Situation, and perfect Uniformi­ty, that they are above the Imitation of all humane Art? The next care is for a treasure of Nourishment; and with what a quick Sense doth it discover a Mildew, though at a great distance from its Habi­tation? With what Niceness of Applicati­on doth it pass from Flower to Flower to extract its Aliment? And having at last by its chymical Methods furnish'd it self with quantities sufficient; With what a discriminating Faculty doth it order it at home, discharging its Legs of the fleg­matick or grosser Part, which it lays by in spare places for its present Food; and casting up the most spirituous drops out of its Stomach into Cells, and there covering them up with a viscous Mem­brane, for a necessary reserve against [Page 364] the searcities and severities of Winter? Besides these resemblances of Provi­dence for the support of its Nature, and for the increase of its Kind: SomeSee Butler and Allen of Bees. have made such Observations of its seeming Wisdom in reference to the whole Community, as assord even us Men divers moral and useful Directi­ons. For their mutual Interest all are industriously at their respective Em­ployment; as if they had a transeript of that LAw, which the Psalmist speaks of Psal. 104. 23, when The sun ariseth, man goeth forth to his work, and to his la­bour until the evening. As there should be in all Societies, so is there in this, a perfect Unity among themselves. If Foreigners threaten an Invasion, they easily distinguish them, though of the same Colour, Shape, and Bigness with themselves, and the next moment they prepare for Battle. If any of their Members suffer, all sympathize, and are engaged with undaunted Resolution, with a joynt Force, and with the ut­most hazard of their Lives; which gave David occasion to say of his Enemies, They came about me like Bees. Within their own Body there is all Order, Har­mony, and Peace (the wisest things for [Page 365] the good of all Communities) and to preserve those things the more effectu­ally, their Government is Monarchical; under which they provide for the Com­mon good of all, and serve their Sove­reign with their Labours, with entire Obedience, with Fidelity, with Cheer­fulness; nay, with devoted Affection: So that if their Queen dieth without a Successor ready, either they too die there upon the spot, or else quit all their Treasures, to force themselves through any Dangers and Wounds in­to another well constituted Communi­ty. From all which very strange, but (as far as ever yet I could perceive) very true Observations, a Question may arise, Whether among all those Forms of Government, which are, or have been among Mankind, there ever was any one sort of Polity more wise­ly Framed and better Served, than that is among these little neglected Ani­mals?

And from these I might proceed at a large rate, to observe those resemblan­ces of Understanding and Prudence, which appear in other sensitive Crea­tures. With what seeming Forecast do they generally provide Conveniencies [Page 366] for the breeding of their Young? How artificial are their Works in order to it? What Patience do they seem to express in their Labours and Griefs? What Fondness do they shew to their new Osf-spring? What Cares do some take for Nourishment suitable to their Natures; and with what Pleasure do others yield it? How Sollicitous are they for their Safety? What pretty Me­thods do they use in training them up? And how do they teach them by de­grees to shift for themselves in the World? If you observe every rank and species of Animals, you will find in all those poor Things a similitude of Sagacity; some Faint, and Imperfect, and Umbratile shews of Reason; and surprizing imitations of Prudence and Policy in all their Operations. And yet all this is nothing, but what we call Natural Instinct; that is, there is a fa­tal Necessity imprest upon them; or an inward, operative Principle seminated and fix'd in their Natures, which is a subordinate Instrument of the Deity, and which does, like a Byass, power­fully incline and move them to act after such a manner, when they themselves understand not the Reasons of their [Page 367] Actions. In Three respects the Opera­tions of all sensitive Creatures are dif­ferent from the Actions done by Beings Rational.

First, They do not intentionally design the accomplishment of such a certain End, which is the scope of their Operations. Nor, Secondly, Do they understand the Reasons of those means, which are in order to that End. Nor, Thirdly, Do they consult or delibe­rate about the Choice of those means. And therefore it will unavoidably fol­low, that their Operations being al­ways Uniform and Artificial, not with­standing their own natural Defects, and want of Reason, there is a Divine Be­ing over them of perfect Knowledge and Wisdom, that intends, and under­stands, and chuseth for them, and di­rects them by a perpetual, secret, and irresistible Law. To consider this mat­ter distinctly:

1. First, They do not intentionally design the accomplishment of such a cer­tain End, which is the scope of their Operations. For the End, though it be the first thing purposed, is the last thing done. At the time of acting it is at such a distance, as assords only a [Page 368] Prospect of it: Nor can Man himself be said to design an End, unless he does both apprehend and foresee it, unless he be affected and wrought upon by Motives from it; nay, unless he thinks it possible, and goes about the thing with desires, and hopes to bring it to pass. Now these are Im­pressions, of which no irrational Crea­ture is capable; because they include, not so much ocular Perception, as mu­tual Knowledge and Discourse, touch­ing the Necessity, Goodness, Feasable­ness, and Fitness of the Matter propo­sed and foreseen; which require much Reasoning, and a due Logical Inferring of one thing out of another; and that can never be done by any Animal that is meerly sensitive: To instance only in the industrious Bee; though of all such Animals it seems to be indued with the greatest Sagacity, yet we cannot con­ceive, that in Spring time it foresee; the return of Winter; that it keeps an Eye still upon hard Weather afar off; that it hath a prospect of Frost and Snow, of naked Woods and Fields; and that upon these Considerations and Motives it makes a diligent use of the present Season, going forth early, and coming [Page 369] home late, and eating (if I may so speak) the Bread of Carefulness. We cannot imagine that the poor Creature concludes this to be the proper and best way for it to subsist, and that it useth this Method in hopes of living on to another Year. Nor can we think that Gathering time being quite over, when it destroys the (then useless) Drones, it makes that Massacre out of a design of Frugality, retrenching thereby the Expences of the House-hold, and cur­tailing the Family, lest those voracious Creatures should cause a Famine a­mong them. These things in Fact it doth, and they manifestly tend to the preservation of its Life; and through­out all, the Bee seems to be very Wise and Provident (though its Providence be mix'd with so much Cruelty and In­gratitude) and if it had Reason of its own, it could not take a more effectu­al and ready way for its Safety. But yet notwithstanding all this shew of Po­licy and Forecast, it doth not so much as understand that its Life is concerned; nor does it think at all, why, or to what purpose it operates after that man­ner; much less doth it act upon a long train of Thoughts, but it doth thus of [Page 370] course, and by the fatal energy of a natural Principle within it, no more aiming at Ends, than an Arrow aims at the Mark towards which it slyes. And the like may be said of all other sensi­tive Creatures, how Sagacious soever they appear to be; they go still on in a road, which meer natural Instinct di­rects them to, and sometime Custom maketh familiar; but know not the End of all their Travels under the Sun any more than the Ox, or the Sheep knoweth when it is going to the Slaugh­ter.

2. As they design not any End for the scope of their Operations, so neither do they apprehend the reason of those Means which are in order to an un­discerned End. The reason of any Means lyeth in the Necessity, Fitness and Conduceableness thereof, for the obtaining of an End: For, therefore do all rational Creatures act thus and thus, because such sorts of Actions are necessary and proper, to compass the Designs they drive at. Now as to this, all wiser sensitive Creatures are utterly at a loss: Though they do things which are necessary, and convenient, and pro­per, yet they know nothing of their [Page 371] tendency and fitness; that is, they are wholly ignorant upon what account such and such Operations are requi­site, or convenient. For this calls for Discretion and Judgment to carry a De­sign on; though the End be known and visible, yet 'tis a Work of Reason to consider what is to be done for it; how to find out good, sitting, and effectual Methods, and then how to apply and use those Methods after a right manner. This requires good, intellectual Parts to discover the necessity and fitness of one thing in order to another, and to act according as the Reason and Nature of the thing is; and therefore it is im­possible for any Brute Creatures to act af­ter a discreet, judicious rate. To instance again in that little Animal I spoke of before: Though it works most artifi­cially for the sake of Ends, yet it works not with any Discretion or Judgment of its own. For as it hath no distinct apprehension, or foresight of the Ends themselves; so neither doth it under­stand the reason of those Means it useth. It knows not what necessity there is for the gathering of Wax first; nor upon what account Wax is the sittest and most convenient thing to make a Lar­der [Page 372] for the treasuring up a Provision of Honey. It knows not the reason for which every Comb must be made up of a Partition-Wall of Wax in the middle, and a large Structure of little Cells on each side. It knows not why it must work and frame every thing with such Geometrical accuracy; nor why the Cells must hang together by close Jun­ctures; nor upon what account each of them must consist of just six Angles; nor for what reason the Angles on the one Side must not answer the opposite cor­ners on the other Side exactly to a Point. It knows not that the meaning of all this delicate Art, is, for the great­er Stability, Strength, and Security of the whole. All this done, it knows not upon what account two sorts of Honey must be gather'd; a siner and more limpid Part, as the best and most congruous to be preserved against Win­ter; and for its present Nourishment a grosser Substance, which will not keep sweet very long. It knows not why its Mouth and Tongue are the sit­test Instruments to extract that; and its Legs more proper to tread out, and bear away this. And after the indu­strious Thing hath been trading abroad [Page 373] for its Prizes, though it returns home throughly Fraighted, and dischargeth it self of its Lading, yet it is as Igno­rant then why the Mouth of the Cell, where the richest Part lieth, must be presently Plaister'd over. It considers not, poor Creature! that its choice and far-fetch'd Pearls are of a fluid Sub­stance, that otherwise would soon run out; and though it knows not the reason why, yet it lays them up as securely as the veriest Hunks and Miser does his Money, till Necessity knocks at the Cell-door, or some Thieves and Rob­bers come to plunder it. Such Obser­vations are to be made of all other Parts of the Animal World: Though their Methods be not equally Curious, but admit of great Variety and Diffe­rence; yet in their Kinds and Tenden­cies they are all proper for the Preser­vation of themselves, and for the Pro­pagation and Welfare of their several Species. But neither do they intend, or design any Purposes by elicite Acts of Choice and Providence of their own; nor do they examine or comprehend the aptitude and congruity of their Methods in order to Purposes; and therefore they must be concluded to [Page 374] act by the Reasons of a Divine Mind, to which they are in Subordination. Indeed some sort of Perception may be allowed them, such as is agreeable to their irrational Natures; that is, a Perception in the Phansie; whereby they are, in some measure, sensible of what they do, while they are yet a do­ing it. But that they look before them, and at a distance, with an Eye upon some End, the goodness whereof in­vites them to use Means; or that they look about them to compare the fitness of those Means, for the compassing of that End; this we cannot allow them without the forfeiture of our own Rea­son, though their Actions carry an Um­brage of Reason with them. As the Bird perceives when she makes her Nest, she is sensible then of her own Actions; for the matter of her Acti­ons, or the Works she does, makes an Impression on her outward Sense, and that conveys an Idea of it to the Phan­sie in her Brain. But all this while the Bird doth not choose to act upon a premised Principle, that she providen­tially designs this Nest for her Young; nor does she thence infer that there­fore she must build it in such a place, [Page 375] with such Materials, after such a man­ner, in such a form, and to such a de­gree of warmth, as is most suitable to the temper of her Young; for this would be Reasoning and Arguing, or Deducing of one thing out of another, which is a Thing or Art too high for any Brute Creature. And yet all these things are done, in every respect so suit­ably, and with such artisice and ex­actness, that the most contriving Man in the World with all his Reason and Skill cannot possibly do them so well: Which shews that there is a Power and Reason superiour even to humane Wis­dom, that hath invigorated the Natures of Animals with an energetick Prin­ciple, which we call Instinct, whereby they form their Works with the greatest Contrivance, though they know not the meaning of them.

3. This is an Imperfection in their Nature, notwithstanding all their curi­ous Formations. And yet, Thirdly, There is another respect wherein their Operations differ from the Actions of Rational Creatures; namely, that as they know not Ends, nor the reason of any Means, so they do not consult, or [Page 376] dliberate about the use of Means. All Artists among Men consider which is the sittest and best way to be taken; and in their Undertakings they do still leave room for second Thoughts. And hence it is, that humane Arts admit of great Improvements; because second Thoughts produce new Experiments; and new Experiments produce fresh Variety; and so by comparing one ef­fect with another, a Man sees where he alter'd the former Method for the bet­ter, and how necessary and useful that Alteration was. But in the Operations of Nature it is not thus; for Nature hath never but one way, and that way is not only ready at hand, but so very sit and proper too, that it is not capable of Amendments. Hence it is that sen­sitive Creatures are never to seek what to do, nor ever change their wonted course; but proceed in a constant, uni­form Tenor, using the very same means for the preservation of their own Be­ings, and for the propagation of their several Kinds, which were used by those that were before them Six thousand Years ago. They do not consider whe­ther things may not be done better now, than they were in those days; nor do [Page 377] they so much as look back upon the last preceding Generation, but go on still in the same way by roat, without fore­cast, reflection, or advice; and yet we see their Works are so artificially done, that if they had bad the longest Expe­rience, and the greatest Reason of their own, they could not after all their Stu­dies and Practice have pitch'd upon more succesful and exquisite Methods.

Let us now from these Premises con­sider with due freedom of Thoughts, whether this be not a manifest Proof of the Existence of a Being, which is in­finitely Operative and Omniscient: For from what other Cause could all this Art in Nature come? Whence else could it receive its admirable Skill? What but a Deity could direct and go­vern it? What other Being could teach that rude and undiscerning Thing to exercise its Faculties after such a metho­dical and unreproveable manner? Or what else could guide it in making such regular, uniform, and constant Strokes, as if it were all perfect Wisdom, when it hath not in it self the least Grain of clear and true Knowledge? It is allDr. Scott. Christ. Life, Part 2. p. 214. meer natural Instinct; and (as an ex­cellent Writer, now with God, speaks) [Page 378] natural Instinct is nothing but the Im­pression of the Art and Reason of the Authour of Nature; which Impression knoweth not what it doth, nor upon what Reasons it proceeds, but only an­swers to the Reason of God, as the Sig­nature doth to the Seal that imprest it, and like an Eccho articulates and re­sounds his Voice, without understanding what it meaneth. And as the senseless Eccho when it reverberates Words that carry Sense and Reason in them, sup­poseth the original Voice to proceed from some intelligent Mind; so these irrational Instincts of Nature, which express so much Art and Reason in their Operations, do necessarily imply that there is some wise Mind or Providence to which they owe their Original.

If our modern Scepticks tell us, That these natural Instincts come ex traduce, and by descent from one Animal to an­other; let us consider how they came there, in every Species of Animals, at the first (for an infinity of Causes is impossible) If they are so hardy as to tell us, That they came Originally by the casual Motion of unthinking Mat­ter; let us consider again how it comes to pass that these natural Instincts hold [Page 379] on, and continue in every Species, and in every Individual throughout the World; since Chance, (blind, sporting, and wild Chance) is far more likely to spoil a fine Work than to make it: Or, if after all they affirm, That the continuance of Instincts from Generation to Genera­tion is perfectly casual; that is, without the Pleasure or Power of an under­standing Being over all; let us consider, lastly, that Chance and Wisdom are things as utterly distant from each other, as Extreams and Contraries are. Chance never did any thing Wisely, nor by Rule, nor after a uniform Rate, nor in a constant, uninterrupted Tenor. And yet all Animals operate Wisely, as if they perfectly understood the Reasons and Necessities of their own Actions. But that they have no Wisedom or Reason of their own, is evident be­causeId. ibid. p. 218. whatsoever they do, they neces­sarily do, and cannot possibly do other­wise; for they never vary in their Operations, never try any new Ex­periments, but always proceed in the same Road, and repeat the same things in the same Method; which is a plain sign that they cannot do otherwise, and consequently that they act not from [Page 380] their own Choice or Reason, but Ne­cessity: And therefore since they are made and impelled to act as they do, and yet do act Rationally and Wisely, that which compels them must be a ra­tional Mind, either acting upon them immediately, or by a fix'd and perma­nent Impression of its Art and Reason upon their Nature and Motions.

The truth is, those Images and Imi­tations of Wisdom which are in Crea­tures purely sensitive, together with the regularity and constancy of their Operations, are as plain an evidence as need be given of the Existence of a God; because it is unconceiveable how the Animal Parts of the World should so orderly conform to the Rules of Rea­son, as if they were endued with in­telectual Faculties, without any dire­ctions and influence from a Divine Mind presiding over all. It is no rari­ty to see some of those Creatures (es­pecially such as have the quickest Sense) gratisie the curiosity of People, by an entertaining shew of such artificial Ge­stures and Actions, as if they under­stood the meaning of Commands, and knew how to obey: And can any one believe that they never had any Artist [Page 381] to discipline and teach them? Yet these Instances are comparatively very few; nor is this half so much as natural In­stinct; and, at last, all their little Tricks vanish with their Breath: And is it ima­ginable, that every Animal under Hea­ven could constantly, and in all things act after such a regular and wise Man­ner, without a commanding Power o­ver them? Or, that any other Power could be able to command them all, but that which was the Original of their Natures?

Indeed the Learned Dr. Cudworth ob­serves,Intel. Syst. p. 675. that some odd Philosophers have given it out, That senseless Atoms, play­ing and toiling up and down, without any Care or Thought, and from Eter­nity trying all manner of Conclusions and Experiments, were at length (they know not how) taught, and by the necessity of things themselves, as it were driven to a certain kind of Trade of Artificialness and Methodicalness; so that though their Motions were at first all Casual and Fortuitous, yet in length of time they became Orderly and Artificial, and governed by a cer­tain Law; they contracting, as it were, upon themselves by long Practice and [Page 382] Experience, a kind of Habit of mo­ving regularly; or else by the meer ne­cessity of things, at length forced so to move, as they should have done, had Art and Wisdom directed them.

But (as that great Man strongly Ar­gues) it is no more possible, That the fortuitous Motion of dead and senseless Matter should ever form it self, be taught, or necessitated, to produce such an orderly and regular System, as the Frame of this whole World is, to­gether with the Bodies of Animals, and constantly to continue the same; than that a Man perfectly Illiterate, and nei­ther able to write nor read, taking, up a Pen into his Hand, and making all man­ner of Scrawls with Ink upon Paper, should at length be taught and necessi­tated by the thing it self, to write a whole Quire of Paper together with such Characters, as being decyphered by a certain Key, would all prove Co­herent, Philosophick Sense. Or, than that a Man Writing down the meer Let­ters of the Alphabet transposedly, any how, as it happens, without the least Thought either of Words or Sense, af­ter his Scribling a long time together, what is altogether insignificant, should [Page 383] at length be taught and necessitated by the thing it self, without the least study or consideration of his own, to write a large excellent Volume. Or to use another Instance; This is no more pos­sible than that ten or a dozen Persons, altogether unskilled in Musick, having several Instruments given them, and striking the Strings or Keys thereof, any how, as it happened, should after some time of Discord and Jarring, at length be taught and necessitated to fall into most exquisite Harmony, and continue the same uninterruptedly for several Hours together.

Wherefore if it be ridiculous for one that hath read over the Works of Plato, or Aristotle, or those Six Books of Lu­cretius Carus, De Naturâ rerum; to contend that possibly the Letters of those Books might be all put together by Chance, or scribled at Random, without the least thought or study of the Writer, he also having no manner of philosophick Skill in him: Or for one that hears ten or a dozen Persons playing in Consort upon Instruments of Musick, and making ravishing Harmo­ny, to perswade himself that none of those Players had, for all that, the least [Page 384] of musical Art or Skill in them, but struck the Strings as it happened: If all this be ridiculous to imagine, it must needs be much more ridiculous and ab­surd, to suppose this artificial System of the whole World, to have resulted from the fortuitous Motion of senseless Atoms, without the direction of any Art or Wisdom; there being much more of Sense, Art, and Philosophy therein, than in any philosophick Volume or Poem ever written by Men; and more of Harmony and Proportion, than in any Composition of Musick. And there­fore the Conclusion must be this, That it is absolutely impossible things should have come to pass, or continued in their orderly and regular Operations, by meer Fortune and Chance; and with­out the direction of any Mind, or God. The Divine Mind and Wisdom hath so printed its Seal, or Signature upon the Matter of the whole corporeal World, as that Fortune and Chance could never possibly have Counterfeited the same.


AND yet I have more to say. For though what has been already observed, is a clear Demonstration of immense Power, divine Knowledge, and unsearchable Wisdom; yet there is something very remarkable behind still, which Proclaims to all the World that Glorious Attribute of God, his infinite Goodness, and Benignity also: And that we cannot but take notice of, if we consider that which was proposed in the next place; namely, the ample Provision that is made for the Welfare of all needy Creatures, and even for the temporal good of Mankind.

I have already observed the near Relation and Connexion that is be­tween all the Parts of the Universe; the necessary dependence that one has upon another, together with the great Helps and Ministrations whereby each part of the World is serviceable and useful to its Fellow-Creatures, and does good Offices for them. And therefore I shall not need to go over the Crea­tion again, to shew you the various [Page 386] Footsteps of Goodness which appear e­very where, and which are evident Marks of a most liberal and munifi­cent Being, that hath provided for the Welfare of the whole. It may be suf­ficient for me to confine my Medita­tions to the Sensitive Parts of the U­niverse, and to take a transient View there, of the wise and excellent Pro­vision which is made for the good of them; for this must undeniably prove, That things did not come together by Chance, (that is, without the contri­vance of an intending Cause) but by the Counsel and Art of a most benign Creator, that hath taken care for the good of all things which stand in Need.

The Good of an Animal consisteth in the Existence of its Nature, and in the Enjoyment of its own Being, with Pleasure and Safety: I mean as far as the Enjoyment suits with the Wellfare of the rest: And 'tis well worth the while to observe what due Provision is made accordingly for it in both these respects; First, For its Production; and then, Secondly, for the Preservation of it afterwards.

[Page 387]1. First, For its Production: How solicitous doth blind Nature seem to be, in preparing all things necessary for a Sensitive Creature's Formation? in drawing and laying out all the Parts of▪ it after the best and most pro­per manner? in cherishing the rude Foetus till it is come to its due Per­fection and Proportions? and in sup­plying it with Nourishment by myste­rious Means, before its coming into a wide World? Every the least Bird in the Shell, is fed with a red Substance which Nature conveys into its Bowels through a Vein provided on purpose to Minister that Aliment for its growth, till the time of Exclusion. In Crea­tures which give Suck, there are Na­vel-Vessels prepared in the Womb, to transmit the Nourishing Juice from the Parent to its Young; which Vessels upon its Production, close up of them­selves; and then the Nourishment lea­ving its former Course, is directed from the Womb to the Paps; where Na­tural Instinct teaches the tender thing to seek its Sustenance for the future. These secret Dispositions, Powers, and Faculties, and formed with a Design for [Page 388] some peculiar uses, and for a certain time; and therefore are impossible to be ascribed to unskilful and erro­neous Chance. No; they are all Ar­guments of great and tender Care; and consequently of wonderful Wisdom and Goodness in an intelligent Agent over all, who governs and guides Il­literate Nature, that works under him, for the subsistence and well-being of his meanest Creatures.

2. And then for the Preservation of them being once brought forth, so admirably kind and indulgent is Nature in its various Contrivan­ces, that to an observing Mind, they are ravishing Attestations of a God of the most abundant and extensive Be­nignity.

And here let us give some Scope and Liberty to our Meditations, and attentively consider the ample Provisi­on that is made. 1. First, for the sup­port of Sensitive Creatures in the state of their Minority, or in their first help­less, necessitous Condition: And then, 2. Secondly, for their safety and welfare when they are grown up, and come to live of themselves in the World.

[Page 389]1. First, For their support in the state of their Minority, when they stand most in need of Help. Our blessed Sa­viour compared his own great Care for the Preservation of the Jews, to the tender Affections of an Hen to­wards her Chickens; or rather of eve­ry Bird towards its young ones; [...]. as a Bird gathereth her Brood under her Wings, Mat. 23. 37.) Which shall give me warrant to take notice, in the first place, of the Provision those poor things are directed to make for the Welfare of their Issue. The Provident Creature having found out some Re­tirement fit for a Nursery, then pitch'd upon the most convenient part of it, out of the reach of Enemies; then built it with Art inimitable, accord­ing to the Temper and Constitution of her future Off spring; and after long Incubation, and great patience under hunger and thirst, having at last produc'd her new Family, her following Cares are to search for Food that is most agree­able to their Natures; to carry it con­stantly to her Brood, that, under God, now call upon her; to minister to [Page 390] them one by one, though she want her self; to shelter them from the An­noyances of the Weather; to defend them what she can from Hostilities; and at last to invite them abroad, and by her own Example to teach them to take Wing, to use their Liberty, and by degrees to become their own Feed­ers and Guardians.

This natural Affection we may observe in all other Animals universally, though never so fierce and savage; what Fond­ness they express towards their young; what Securities they seek out for them; what Moans they make in their Ab­sence; with what diligence and ea­gerness they search after them; with what Pleasure they hold out the Dug to them; and how suspicious they are of the least Danger that may approach. Which universal Instinct is an invin­cible Argument of the Existence of a Supreme, Beneficent Being, that hath fixt in the whole common Animal Na­ture this inseparable Disposition, to be an Instrument in his Hand, or like a Provid [...] under him, to take care [...] the Welfare of every poor Crea­ [...] [...] can take care or provide [...].

[Page 391]And to demonstrate yet that these things are not the Effects of undesign­ing Chance, but the Operations of a provident and good God, it is further observable, that according to the stand­ing Law, and ordinary Course of Na­ture, no Sensitive Creature comes in­to the World till the things necessary for its Support are ready. There is a Breast prepared and replenished with Milk, for every Child of Man: There is an Udder for the Lamb, and Paps for all other such-like Animals: And Tully observed long ago, that the more prolisick any Animal is, and the more young ones it is to suckle, the more in number are those little Bottles ofMr. Boyle's high Vene­ration, &c. Life: Others have observed, that Birds breed in Seed-time, when the Worm is turned up, and the Corn cast into the Ground; That many living Creatures fall in the Spring, when the tender Grass, and other Nutritive Plants, are provided for their Food: That theMr. Ray. Eggs of Silk-Worms are hatched when Mulberry-Trees begin to Bud, and put forth their Leaves, whereon those pre­cious Insects are to feed: That the Wasp is not wont to appear till after the Summer Solstice, when those Fruits [Page 392] which are for their Food, begin to ri­pen: That the Caterpiller is bred on Leaves, which are their proper Ali­ment; That other Insects (as the Bee for one) that at Breeding-time can find no Aliment abroad, have it at home prepared and laid up before-hand by their industrious Parents. To which many Observations more might be ad­ded, to shew that for every Mouth that is brought into the World, there is agreeable Meat ready, and in its Season; and that as there are varieties of Animals for varieties of Fruits, that nothing of the Creation may be lost; so both Animals and Fruits are pro­duc'd at their proper times, that when the one wants, the other is at Hand to answer its Necessities. Now mo­thinks no Man should be so false to his own Faculties, as to think it rea­sonable to believe, that these apposite and suitable Preparations were made by Chance, which are such pregnant Arguments of great Wisdom and Be­nignity. And yet hereunto I must sub­join this one Remark more, That, as convenient and sit Nourishment is seasonably provided and made ready for all, so that the Appetites of all [Page 393] Creatures are corresponding, and ada­pted to that Provision which is pro­per for their Sustenance. Though du­ring the whole time of their Formati­on they were fed secretly, without any Art, or Appetite of their own, and without any use of their Mouths; yet upon their Production they begin to crave, and seek for their Nutriment another way. We see daily in every Species of Animals that live by Milk, how soon they long for the Pap; how they reach after the Pap, and make towards the Pap, and open their Mouths for it, as if they understood that the former way of Nutrition is now out of Doors, and at an End. Now here our Scepticks, who derive all things from Chance, should consider, how young Animals come to observe this constant, uniform, and stated Method; as if they were sensible that the first Course of Nature now faileth; that their Aliment now runs to another place, and therefore they must have re­course thither, where their Food now lieth. There is something in them, (whatever it be) that doth regularly direct, and as it were teach them, to act after this proper manner: And to [Page 394] say it is meer Nature, is nothing to the purpose, or at least that which does not come home to the point: For this Nature is in Creatures which are irrational, nay, at their lowest state of Irrationality, and before they have any the least Experience to guide them; and in such a state, Nature alone, and of it self, must needs be as rude and ignorant, and as liable to Irregularities, as Chance it self is. Therefore if we will hearken to Reason, and speak ac­cording to Reason, we must conclude, That the first Appetites and Motions in these poor young Creatures, pro­ceed from a certain invisible Principle, which at the first moment of their for­mation was fixt in them by a wise and beneficent Agent, under whom it Ope­rates necessarily, and without any con­sciousness of its own, in conformity to his Will, for the Welfare and Sup­port of his Creatures in their most needy Condition.

2. And here let us pass on to ob­serve, Secondly, the Provision that is made for their Safety when they are grown up, and come to live of their selves. And here, to cast things into [Page 395] a clear Method, we should consider, what Provision is made 1. First, For their protection from outward Assaults; 2. For their defence against untimely Deaths.

1. For the Protection of Creatures from outward Assaults, Nature hath furnished many sorts of them with means proper for Resistance; some with Armature on their Heads, to push and Gore; some with Teeth, to rend an Enemy; some with Hoofs, to strike off Dangers; divers with variety of other Weapons, which are sit for their preservation: Nor are any Animals that are to secure their Lives by Re­sistance, left defenceless. Nay, it is observable of such, that as their Strength is suitable chiefly in those parts which serve for their preservation, so is their Boldness and Courage proportionable, especially when they are brought into Streights, and into imminent Danger. Nature indeed hath been accused by some as a kind of Step-Mother to Man, for bringing him into the World in a naked, defenceless Condition. But it should be considered, that as Man hath Hands and Arms to use for his Safety, [Page 396] so is he endu'd with intellectual Fa­culties, to form a thousand Weapons and Stratagems for his preservation. Besides, Man is naturally a social Crea­ture, fitted to live under Polity and Laws, and to act according to the E­ternal Rules of Goodness and Righ­teousness; which are far more agree­able to a Rational Nature, than brutish Violence is, and would be the most effe­ctual Means for the Welfare of all Mankind, if they were but carefully observed. To accommodate the Words of the Prophet to this purpose, Isa. 11. Were righteousness the girdle of our loyns, and faithfulness the girdle of our reins, the wolf might dwell with the lamb, and the leopard lie down with the kid; and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling together; and a little child might lead them. The sucking child might play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child might put his hand on the cockatrice-den; Nor would there be any hurt or destruction in the World. In short, as Self-preservation is the first Principle in Nature, so is every Crea­ture endu'd with Faculties and Defen­satives for their Preservation as long as the Powers of Nature are to hold: [Page 397] which shews that a most wise and be­neficent Being hath formed every thing for its Good.

2. Many other Creatures are direct­ed by Nature to preserve themselves by flight: Not only the Fowls of the Air, but divers sorts of four-footed Animals on Earth, especially such as are of a more timorous temper. And accordingly as their Organs of sensation are artificially fitted to discover dangers at a distance, so are those muscular Parts which serve for swiftness much larger in proportion, than in other Creatures, to quicken and maintain their Motions: A plain Ar­gument that those Instruments of Cele­rity were framed, not by rude, unin­telligent Fortune, but by the contri­vance of an intending Cause, whose Goodness is over all his Works.

3. Others are taught to abscond in holes and cavities of the Earth; and lest their cold Sanctuaries should prove as Fatal to them as external vio­lence, Nature makes them Coats of Fur, and such suitable Integuments to keep them warm.

[Page 398]4. Lastly, Whereas there is utter En­mity between divers sensitive Crea­tures, those Animals which are most exposed to danger from others, are en­dued with a natural Instinct which in­ables them, both to be sensible of their Enemy at the first sight, and to pro­vide, what they can, against the dan­ger. The innocent Lamb runs pre­sently from the Wolf, though it never saw a Wolf before. Many sorts of Birds are frighted at the first sight of Fowls of Prey, and endeavour with all possible speed to escape from them. The Elephant when he goes to sleep, hides the end of his long Trunk in the Ground, so that nothing but Air can get in, lest his natural Enemy, the Mouse, should enter in, and creep in­to his Bowels. The Crocodile that is in continual Danger from that Aegyp­tian Animal, the Iehnenmon, is guard­edJo. John­ston, admi­rand. qu t­drup. c. 1 4. by the watchful attendance of a­nother Animal, the Trochilus, that a­wakens the sleeping Crocodile, when the Ichneumon is preparing to run in­to his Mouth. Many such remarkable Observations might be collected out of Natural Histories, which shew what [Page 399] various Methods Nature useth for the preservation of living Creatures from Assaults and Hurt. And because Na­ture of it self is a thing (if we speak strictly) without all Providence, Care, or Thought, Reason will oblige us to conclude, that there is a God over Nature; or a most wise and benign Being, that directs it in operating for the good of all.

2. Which will yet further appear, if we consider, in the second Place, the Provision that is made for the De­fence of Creatures against untimely Deaths. And here many things might fall under our Meditations, should we look over the Works of Nature par­ticularly: As 1. First, touching that sufficiency of proper Food, which is provided every where for the support of their Beings, and for the pleasure of their Lives, as far as the enjoyment of their Lives, is consistent with the Welfare of the whole Universe. 2. Se­condly, Touching the aptitude and fit­ness of those Parts wherewith every Spe­cies is provided, for the gathering, and digesting of their proper Sustenance: So that by the Structure of an Animal's [Page 400] Body, especially in and about the Mouth, it is no hard matter to conje­cture what sort of Food is most suita­ble to its Nature, and how, and in what places it is commonly gather'd; as for instance, by the form and length of a Bird's Beak, you may guess what it lives on, and where its proper Ali­ment doth for the most part lie. These are plain Arguments of a provident and good God, that in every respect hath taken effectual Care, that none of his Creatures should perish for want of Sustenance, or for want of Facul­ties and Powers to receive that Por­tion which his most liberal Hand gi­veth unto all.

But these Observations would carry us back to some Subjects which we have past through already; and there­fore I must wave them here; and shall employ my Thoughts upon the Consi­deration of that Provision which is made for Man chiefly, for his present good and safety, and for the preservation of his Life, as long as it is fit for him to live in this present World.

Is there not an appointed time to man up­on the earth? Are not his days also like the days of an hireling? saith Job, Chap. 7. 1. [Page 401] Yes; His days are determined; the num­ber of his months are with God, who hath appointed his bounds that he cannot pass, Job 14 5. By which appointed time is meant the natural Period of Humane Life, or, that limited Course, beyond which all the Power and Strength of Nature cannot hold now, since the Sentence of Death hath past upon Mankind. Indeed, before the Fall, our Parents were in an immor­tal State, and had they never sinned, they should have continued immortal in this World (especially by eating of the Tree of Life) till God had thought it sit to translate them alive out of this World into a better. When once the Decree came out, Dust thou art, and to Dust thou shalt return; it was ap­pointed unto all Men once to die; and ever since the Faculties of Hu­mane Nature have been so stinted and weakned, that with all our Care and Endeavours, we cannot stay very long here. Now, by an untimely Death I mean that which comes before the Term which is appointed and prefixt to ones Nature; and as sinful Creatures as we are, such ample Provision is made in all parts of the World for the health [Page 402] and support of its Inhabitants during the Course of Nature, that if People were but wise and provident them­selves in the use of that Provision, their End would not be so precipitated as it commonly is by Men's own Faults: Which necessarily argues the Existence of a most beneficent and gracious God, that careth for us all: For whereas these two things are necessary to defend a Man from an untimely Death; 1. Convenient Nourishment, to keep up the Faculties of Nature in a due Vigour; and 2. Proper Medici­nal Applications, to recover Nature, when by some ugly Accident it begins to droop: In both these respects such ample Provision is made for our Pre­servation, as is impossible with reason to be ascrib'd to any Cause, but the Providence and Bounty of a good God.

1. First, There is provided conve­nient Nourishment for all; that is, such as is suitable to People of all Condi­tions. 2. Such as is suitable to the Quality of all Climates. And 3. Such as is suitable to all Tempers and Con­stitutions: All which could never have [Page 403] been without the Counsel and Skill of an intelligent Being, that ordereth and disposeth every thing in the World af­ter the best way.

1. Convenient Food is provided for People of all Ranks, States, and Con­ditions. Because the ordinary sorts of People were to be provided for, as well as the great and noble; (and in­deed much rather, considering that the greatest part of Mankind doth consist of People of an ordinary Condition) therefore Wisdom and Goodness hath made that the sittest and most agree­able, the most natural Food, which is ordinarily and commonly had; that which is the next at Hand; that which is most easie and ready to be gotten. Things which lie more out of the way, serve rather for Mens Luxury, as Luxu­ry serveth to breed Diseases: Those common Meats which answer the or­dinary Necessities of Mankind, are most Salutary and Natural. Of the Truth hereof this is a clear Argument, because such Provisions, if moderately used at a time, Nature is not offended with, but rather craveth for, though daily taken: Whereas Daimies, which [Page 404] are more scarce, and harder to be pro­vided, and which gratifie the Fancy ra­ther than supply our Wants, the Ap­petite is soon cloy'd with, and be­comes averse to. How sensual soever we are, neither the most Craving, nor the most wanton People would be tied, or endure to live long upon those By-Entertainments, and far-setch'd Rari­ties, which Woods and Forests, Rocks and Mountains afford. But no tem­perate Person is surfeited with Bread from the Field, which is the common Food of the World. 'Tis every Day repeated with Hunger, as well as swal­lowed with Delight. And so it is with other ordinary sorts of Nutriment; they find a kind Welcome to Na­ture, and leave behind 'em a grateful Appetice. Upon which account the mean Man shareth with the Mighty in the Comforts of this Life; and hath equal reason to rejoyce in the good things before him, and to bless a pro­vident Hand which scattereth these ne­cessary Comforts without discriminati­on, as the Manna was scattered in the Wilderness; He that gathered much had nothing over; and he that gathered lit­tle had no lack, Exod. 16. 18. Every [Page 405] Man gathereth according to his eat­ing, and that which is agreeable to his Appetite and Taste: Which would be Nonsense to ascribe to undiscerning Chance, because it is apparently the ef­fect of Prescience, Wisdom, and unli­mited Goodness; and therefore shews, that there is a Being of the most ex­tensive Kindness and Benignity, who shutteth not up his Bowels of Com­passion from any; but, as he maketh Poor, and maketh Rich, so he holdeth out his Hands like a common Provi­dore, to support all indifferently, and giveth to every Man a convenient Por­tion.

2. Ample Provision is made, as for all People of all Conditions, so for the Necessities of all Climates and Nati­ons in the World. Though in every particular Country there is not the same plenty, nor the same sorts of Pro­vision, for a weighty reason which I shall presently take notice of; yet no Nation is so barren and destitute, as not to yield its Inhabitants (especial­ly its Natives) a competency and suf­ficiency of things needful for them, es­pecially where a Nation is well Peo­pled [Page 406] and well cultivated. Some abound with grosser kinds of Food; others with variety of Pulses; others with peculiar Plants and Roots, and gene­rous Wines; others with choice of ex­cellent Fruits; and others with singu­lar sorts of Trees, which answer va­riety of uses, and serve not only for the Necessities, but also for the Con­veniencies and Delights of People; as (what a learned Author observes)Mr Ray. ubi supra. the Cinnamon—Trees of Ceylon, which yield those People manifold Advan­tages: The Dropping-Trees in some parts of Africa, which serve instead of Rain, and fresh Springs: The Aloes-Muricatae in some places of America, which assord the Natives every thing their Necessities require: The Coco-Trees of the Indians, which supply them with Bread, Water, Wine, Milk, Oil, Honey, Cloaths, together with va­rious sorts of Utensils; in short, with every thing almost they stand in need of. Besides many other Trees, which another Author mentions; that cele­bratedDr. H [...] ­lins [...]. Tree in Peru, the Leaves where­of satisfie both Hunger and Thirst, and preserve Men in Health, and their Spi­ri [...]s in Vigour: The Hovo-Trees in [Page 407] Castella-Aurea, whose Blossoms, Bark, Leaves, and Roots, are for so many great Uses: The Magney-Trees in New-Spain, whose Tops, Rind, Boughs, and forty sorts of Leaves, serve for variety of excel­lent Purposes: The Mignolo-Trees in Guinea, the Bark whereof yields a Li­quor more pleasant, strong, and nou­rishing than the choicest Wines: The Palm-Trees in Aegypt, which are said to yield whatsoever is necessary to the Life of Man. To which few Obser­vations a vast number of the like kind might be added, if a Man would make it his business to take, though but a summary Account of the great Provi­sion that is made for the Subsistence of Mankind in all the known Parts of the World. Briefly; as it is in the Fabrication of a Man, if Nature be defective in one part, it commonly makes amends in another; so is it in the Model and Frame of every Country, the Wants of it, in some respects, are compensated by an Abundance, or at least by a Sufficiency in others: Nor is any Country so destitute, and at a loss, but that it is able to help it self very well, either by Industry imploy'd about the Stores of Nature at home, or by some [Page 408] sorts or other of Riches which it is liberally supplyed with, to maintain Commerce and Traffick abroad.

3. The reason why there is not an equal plenty of the same things in e­very Nation, I take to be this; Be­cause the same things are not sit and proper for all People. And this, Thirdly, I cannot but look upon as a pregnant Argument of a Providence and a God, that in all parts of the World such Provision is made for the Sustenance of People, as is most suita­ble to their Tempers and Constituti­ons. In Cold or more Temperate Cli­mates, where the Air is more Nitrous, and where, consequently, the Appe­tites of People are the stronger, and their Constitutions require the stronger Food, there grosser Nourishment is more agreeable; and accordingly we find, that in such Parts, and among such People, there is the greater plenty of the Flesh of Beasts, for their con­stant Support. Abundance of this kind of Diet would not be so suitable to Sanguine Tempers in Hot Climates, but rather would create inordinate Fer­mentations of Blood, Fevers, Calentures [Page 409] and Frenzies: And therefore such Na­tions are better stor'd with Roots, Pulses, and Plants, and with various Fruits of the Vine, to correct the more Phlegmatick part of them, and to car­ry off the Crudities and Flatulency thereof. Other places abound with Fruits that are fragrant, refreshing, and cooling, as being most proper to pre­serve the Inhabitants in a State of Health, and a due Temper. The great plenty of Rices in the East; and of Maize, which is the great Food of the Americans; and such other peculi­ar sorts of Nutriment in other Coun­tries, are provided for the peculiar Constitutions of People every where, and adapted to them. And so are their Drinks, if taken in a due mea­sure. For which reason, though the Vine be a Plant which generally grows in all Nations of the World, because of general Use, yet some Oriental Parts are quite destitute of it: But (says my Author) the want of it isDr. Heylin, pag. 924. supply'd with a pleasant Drink, made of the Juice of other Fruits, more na­tural to those People than the other, and so preservative of Life, that the People there are reported to be longer [Page 410] liv'd than in any other Parts. In China it is supplyed by an Herb, out ofId. pag. 865. which they press a delicate Juice, which doth not only serve them instead of Wine, but preserveth their Health, and freeth them from many of those In­conveniencies which the immoderate use of Wine doth breed in others: Which short Remarks (not to make any more of this Nature now) shew that there is a superintending, wise, and good Being over all Men, that doth dispose and order the things of Nature in all parts of the World after the best manner, and for the present Benefit and Advantage of every Man: For to adapt and sit things thus, ac­cording to the Necessities of all Peo­ple, and to make them so exactly con­grnous and answerable, cannot be the fortuitous Essect of improvident Chance, but the admirable Works of an intel­ligent, contriving, and most beneficent Deity.

2. Yet it will not be amiss to ob­serve a little, what Provision there is made too of proper, Medicinal Re­medies, to recover the insirm Nature of Man, when it begins to droop; to [Page 411] convince Men yet further of the Exi­stence of a God, that begrudgeth not any Man that Good which consisteth in the Enjoyment of himself, till his appointed time cometh.

What variety of Drugs Nature is furnished with to this purpose, is nei­ther necessary nor proper for me to note here. The thing I would briesly observe is this; That such Medicinal Remedies are provided for all Men, and those so sitly suited to all incident Griefs, as are enough to satisfie any reasonable Man, that there is a Divine, Benign Nature in the World, that of his Insinite Goodness taketh care of us all. And this will appear if we con­sider the Provision which is made, 1. Against such common Diseases as Mankind in general are subject unto: 2. Against such as are incident more pe­culiarly to some Nations.

1. First, There are very many Di­seases which are incident to all People in general. For as all Mankind consist of the same common Nature, so is this common Nature subject in all places to decay and dissolution; nor are there any parts in ones Body but what are [Page 412] liable to the same Infirmities and Griefs, which affect the rest of Adam's Genera­tions. Now that People may not un­avoidably come to an untimely End, only for want of present, necessary help, there is all over the World a suf­ficiency of proper Means, if Men will but take the pains to discover the Fa­culties of those things which Nature affords, and be careful to apply and use them after a due manner. And as our necessary Food is, so are our necessary Medicaments ordinarily and common­ly to be had: For no Man is forced to languish on, and die, under a Dropsie or Fever, a Consumption or Flux, or such like usual Distemper, meerly for want of this one particular Root, or that Flower, or that Drug, which cannot be procured at Home, but must be fetch'd from beyond the Seas by a long Voyage and great Expence. The things we most need are within our reach, and hard by, almost in every Wood, Field, and Garden: And though some humo­rous and vain Persons are seldom plea­sed but with what is scarce and costly, yet Nature is gratified with what is common, as most suitable to its Neces­sities, most proper and effectual for its [Page 413] relief. The Ancient Egyptians had their Garden-Deities; not that they look'd upon them as Gods, but as great pre­servatives of Life, blest with a Divine Power derived, as they thought, from the Objects of their Worship. And hence, perhaps, it might be that the Jews who had lived so long among them, lusted in the Wilderness for their Old Egyptian Fare, the Melons, the Cucumbers, the Leeks, the Onions, and the Garlick; because they had by their long Experience found those things so Beneficial in a Countrey, where the Air was wont to be corrupted by the Inun­dations of that vast River Nilus. Gene­rally speaking, Domestick Remedies are the kindest Friends to every ones Na­ture, and the best Restoratives of it; and it seems a sensible Argument of Di­vine Wisdom and Unlimited Bounty; that is, of the Existence of a Provident and Good God, that such Provision is made so aptly and liberally for high and low, for Men of all Ranks, Con­ditions and Ages, and for People of the meanest Fortunes; that the precious Life given to us all may not be snatch'd from us (if we be but Provident our selves) till Nature hath done her whole [Page 414] Work; till it be time for us to go hence; till that proper Season comes which Job's Friend spake of; the Season when a Man shall be ripe and sit to drop into another World; Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in, in its season, Job 5. 26.

2. Secondly, There are someEndemii (morbl) sunt, rum qui ex pu­tridis aquarum, ter­rarum, vel cadave­rum expirationibus orti sunt; turn etiam quibusdam regionibus familiares, ut Ph [...]hi­fis, Lusitanis, Struma Hispanis & Alpinis, Hydroca [...]e Nerbonen­si Galliae, omnes qui­dem ex acri [...] gravi­rate nati. Jo. Fernel. de abdit. rerum cau­sis, lib. 2. Diseases which Physicians call Endemial; meaning such as are more peculiar and fami­liar to some Nations. And if Travellers would accurate­ly observe what proper Pro­vision is made against such Distempers, throughout the several Parts of the known World, they might oblige us with such a fair acconnt of the Divine Goodness, as that the curiosity of Men could not desire a fairer for its kind. In divers Nations their proper Food is their proper Phy­sick too. In many places the natural Baths, and other medicinal Waters of the Countrey, serve to carry off Diseases that are most incident. In some parts of A. srick every one is said to be his own Phy­sician; [Page 415] because all of them are so muchMandelslo's Trav. 13. acquainted with the Specificks of their Countrey, as they think is necessary and enough for the Preservation and Re­covery of their Health. In Persia theyTavernier, 1. 5. cap. 15. have no exact Methods of Physick: Their China Drinks, and the commonId. Part 2. 1. 1. Pulses and Roots of their own Growth, together with a regular Diet, are their greatest Preservatives of Life. In the East-Indies its said that there are no Physicians, but such as attend Kings and Princes. As for the ordinary sort, af­ter the Rains are fallen, and that it is time to gather Herbs, the People go out into the Fields and gather such Simples which they know to be proper for such Diseases as reign among them. Others tell us of their choice Drugs,Mandelslo's Trav. in Ind. their Plant called Bettele, and the Fruit of their Tree Areca, are their most sovereign Preservatives. In some places where Fevers are wont to reign, those Trees are common, whence that celebrated Medicament is setch'd, usual­ly called, the Jesuits Bark. In thoseHeylen of Amer. Fer­nel. de lue c. [...]. parts of America where a silthy Discase is Hereditary and Epidemical among Young and Old of both Sexes, those Re­gions abound with Gunjacan and Sarsa, [Page 416] which are said to be proper for it. In this, and some other Northern Climates, where the Scurvey prevails, and some other Maladies which depend upon it, a peculiar Herb aboundeth, which thence takes its Name; besides other proper Plants which grow in every Garden; and perhaps above all, the Elder which is to be found almost in every Hedge: Which brings to my Mind the Observation of a curious Au­thour,Mr. Ray, p. 104. I have mentioned more than once, that there are such Species of Plants produced in every Countrey, as are most proper and convenient for the Meat and Medicine of Men and Ani­mals that are bred and inhabit there. Insomuch that Solenander writes, That from the frequency of the Plants which spring up naturally in any Region, he could easily gather what Endemial Di­seases the Inhabitants thereof were sub­ject to.

And what can this argue, but great and wonderful Goodness in a provident Being above, who taketh ample Care of the Lives of his Creatures? With what Face can any Man ascribe all this commodious and apt Disposition of things to Chance, which is such a pal­pable [Page 417] Evidence of Wisdom and Be­nignity? Should you look into a great Family, or an Hospital, and there ob­serve what Provision is made for the whole House-hold; sufficient and a­greeable Sustenance prepared for every the meanest Retainer to it; skilful Ar­tists daily attending with proper Reme­dies for Griefs and Sicknesses of all sorts; and every thing disposed so orderly, and after such a Congruous, Liberal, and Charitable manner, as speaks Compassion and Goodness towards all: Would you not think it reasonable to conclude that certainly there is a wise and beneficent Gover­nour presiding, by whose Directions and under whose Care all Ministrations are performed in such a way as is suit­able to every ones Necessities? Why, much rather may we think it reason­able to conclude that there is a God presiding over the whole World, un­der whose unlimited Providence Na­ture doth regularly and conveniently minister to the Wants of all People. The Families of the Earth are innume­rable; their Habitations vastly distant; their Necessities pressing, constant, va­rious, and infinite; And what but in­finite [Page 418] Wisdom, Power and Goodness could provide so amply, and appositely for them all? Nature, its true, does it immediately; but, as hath been shewn, Nature of it self is an uncontriving, un­thinking Thing that acteth in the Dark, and therefore it infers the Existence of an Agent above and over it, that understands for it; that hath put it into a stated Method, and still directs and employs it under him to minister thus to the Necessities of Men every where, who do, or should at least understand far better than Nature does, whence all that Bounty and Liberality comes, which replenisheth the World.


HAving proceeded thus far upon this large Speculation, concern­ing the excellent State of the World, as a clear Proof that there is a most wise and good Being who framed it. I find but one thing remaining for us to look into; and that is the ad­mirable Frame of our own rational Nature, which I have reserved for the last Consideration, because it is the brightest and most glorious manifesta­tion of a Deity. For if it be made appear that our rational Part is so ex­cellent, as that it could not be formed by any thing less than an Agent that is essentially Divine, and transcendently Perfect, humane Reason must extort this Confession from all Men, That there is a Being incomprehensibly Ex­cellent, which formed so excellent a Creature as our humane Nature is.

In Discoursing then upon this Sub­ject, I shall endeavour to shew these Two things. 1. First, Wherein the Excellence of humane Nature does con­sist. 2. Secondly, That this Excellence was derived, not from the casual Mo­dification [Page 420] of stupid Matter, but from the Agency of an intelligent Cause that is eminently and absolutely Perfect.

1. First, Touching the Excellence of our humane Nature. By our humane Nature, is understood strictly the in­tellectual, thinking, and rational Thing within us which we call the Soul: And when I spake of its Excellence, I mean its essential Perfection, before Vice comes to deprave and hurt it: And I spake too of a comparative Per­fection; not meaning that it is Excel­lent in such a sublime Degree, as a Deity is supposed to be; but Excel­lent in its Kind, and in comparison of the other Parts of this visible World. Now that every rational Soul is thus Excellent, will appear both from its Nature and Faculties.

In its Nature it is, 1. First, Immate­rial. For it is a distinct thing from Matter; and the Properties of it are quite different from the Properties of Matter. It is of the Nature of Matter, to be locally extended, as a Wall is, part by part, and one part by another in a palpable Series of Contiguity; to move as a Stone does, as it is moved forcibly [Page 421] by some other Agent, and to commu­nicate its Motion to a corporeal Sub­stance by strokes imprest upon it; to be wholly passive to external Violence; to be in an utter state of Rest, when Force is not offered; to be as Senseless as a Stone, and as void of Cogitation; and when it is stirred and agitated, to be destitute of all Apprehension which way, or in what manner, or to what end it moves: These and the like dull Properties essentially and necessarily belong to Matter. There is as much difference between them and the At­tributes of the rational Soul, as between Death and Life. Because this is a busie Thing, prone and ready to enquire in­to the qualities of Objects; to discover their Natures; to apprehend Ideas; to commit Notions to Memory for a long time; to discern and distinstuish be­tween Truth and Falshood, and be­tween Right and Wrong; to infer Con­clusions from Premises; to spin Opini­ons out of a train of Thoughts; to judge what is to be Received, and what is to be Rejected; to exert an Appetite towards that which is Good, and to rest with Complacency and De­light in the Enjoyment of it. Nay, [Page 422] besides all this, to be also in its opera­tions Self-active and Self-determining, is Essential to it. For the Soul of Man is not pulled, or forced, dragged, or drawn, or thrust on like a Machine. No; the Principle of its Actions is within its self; nor can any thing move it, but by its own consent and voluntary compli­ance. Indeed outward Objects make Impressions upon it; and such as do affect it and incline it to act according as things appear to be either desirable or hurtful. But this is not done by any violent, necessitating Impulse, like the Force imprest upon a common Engine; but in a Moral way, by perswasion and allurement, and by the intervening use of Reason, which judgeth of the Ob­ject whether it may be chosen or refu­sed, and accordingly dictates and directs: So that when the Soul resolves upon Actions, and comes to exert its Power, it determines it self, being sollicited thereunto by Temptations and Argu­ments from the inviting Appearance of an Object, but not driven to it by ir­resistible Violence. For in many Cases we do resist Offers, though they be very Tempting; because the Motives for our compliance are not so strong, [Page 423] as the Reasons which are against it: And when the Reasons on each hand seem equally fair, the Soul is unresol­ved, and in suspence, hanging in doubt, in aequilibrio, like Scales that are exact­ly even till some Grains be added, some more Arguments offered on the one side which outweigh all on the con­trary, and so turn and cast the Scale, and bring the Soul to a Determination. Of these things every Man hath daily Experience in his own Breast: We all feel in our selves this our native Liber­ty and determining Power. And hence it follows, That after all the Disputes about the Substance of the rational Soul what it is, we may certainly con­clude what it is not. It cannot be any material, corporeal Substance, though you suppose it to be never so fine and thin; because its Operations are quite different from the Motions of the most subtile Body. They proceed not from any necessitating Cause; nor are they carried on after a necessitating Man­ner; nor are they brought to any ne­cessary Result, as the Motions of Mat­ter are (these are still imprest upon it by some necessitating thing which is without, and foreign to it.) But the [Page 424] Soul of Man hath a Principle of Free­dom and voluntary Activity within it self, and in its Nature, whereby it is apt to begin, and order, and govern, and perfect its own Actions, as its own Reason directeth, and as it self judgeth to be most convenient and best.

2. And because it is immaterial, it must follow, that its own Nature it is immortal also; which is the Se­cond Argument of its Excellence, if compar'd with all the other parts of this visible World.

That this thing may be rightly un­derstood, we must consider, that there is a two fold Life in Man. 1. The Life of the Compositum (as they call it) or the Life of the whole Man; that Life which results from the Vital Uni­on between Soul and Body. This cannot be thought immortal, because we see it every Day destroy'd by the separation of those two Substances, Soul and Body, from each other. 2. There is the Original Life of the Soul it self, consider'd singly and se­parately, as a distinct thing from the Body. This Life is, I conceive, a state of Vigour and Activity, and a state [Page 425] which is peculiar and proper to the Soul. Now this is immortal; that is, though the Body turns to Dust and Ashes, yet the Soul continues a living Being still; or subsisteth on in a state of Vigour; so that the Nature of it is not subject to Mortality. For by Mortality is meant a proneness or ten­dency in a Being to a Dissolution of it, upon the failing of that Principle of A­ctivity within it, which we call Life. And three things are requisite to ren­der a thing Mortal; as we see by eve­ry Day's Experience, in all Creatures which naturally consume away and die. 1. There must be a Mixture of con­trary Qualities, as Heat and Cold, and the like. 2. There is a corruptibility of Humours upon the Prevalence and Predominancy of one Quality over the others. 3. And Thirdly, a Divisi­bility of the Parts upon and after the over-powering the Faculties and Tem­perament of Nature. So that 'tis Matter that is liable to Death; nor can Death be incident to any thing but Matter, nay to corruptible Matter; nor can any corporeal Substance be Immortal, till this Corruptible hath put on Incorru­ption. If then a Being be immaterial, [Page 426] or destitute of Bodily Parts, it must be in its own Nature immortal too. A Spirit hath not Flesh, and Bones (and Blood) as every Humane Body hath; and consequently it cannot be liable to those jarring Elements whereof our Bodies do consist; nor can it of it self be capable of Corruption or Dissolu­tion of Parts, as our Mortal Bodies are, seeing it is supposed to have no Parts at all to be divided. Therefore since the Rational Soul is a Spirit, or such a Being as is incorporeal and im­material (as I have now shew'd it is) it must follow, that it is not naturally subject to Mortality, as the Body is; because it is utterly void of all Natu­ral Principles of Mortality, and is in­corruptible in its Essence; and there­fore it must by the ordinary Necessity of its own Nature, as well as by the Will and Pleasure of a Superiour Be­ing, survive the Body, to receive Re­wards or Punishments in another World, according to the Quality of its Actions in this.

2. Having thus briefly consider'd the Nature of every Humane Soul, let us, Secondly, take some Account of its Ex­cellence [Page 427] in respect of its Faculties and Powers, in order to prove the Exi­stence of a God, as the only Cause that could give this Soul a Being.

There are some Faculties in a Man which are common to Brute Creatures also: As 1. Sense, or the power of per­ceiving Idea's imprest from outward Objects upon the Organs of Sensation; the Eye, Ear, &c. 2. Phansie, or a power of apprehending the seeming Suitableness or Unsuitableness of an Ob­ject to its Nature. 3. Memory, or the power of retaining for some time the Idea's and Shapes of things sensible. 4. Appetite, or a power of moving ac­cording as an Object appears, either a­greeable or hurtful; being allur'd by the one, or frighted and dampt by the other.

But these several Powers are nothing in comparison of those noble faculties pe­culiarly belonging to the Rational Soul; as any Man may perceive that will but search into himself, and observe what he finds and feels there. For 1. First, We find that we have a Power to Think and Consider; I mean to exa­mine those Objects which are present­ed to our outward Sense; to employ [Page 428] our Minds conversantly about them; to take notice of their Proportions, Forms, and Qualities; to compare one thing with another; to discover the Causes and Effects of them, so that we may penetrate into the inside of them, and dive into their Natures. Now this no Brute Creature doth, or can do. The ox, indeed, knoweth his owner, and the ass his masters crib; that is, they come to both, being in­vited and moved thereunto by the ap­pearance of things, which are wont to gratifie the Eye and Palate. But in this there is no such thing as Conside­ration, nothing that can properly be call'd Thought; because such Creatures are not capable of enquiring in them­selves, Who, or what their Feeders are? or, What the Substance of their Fodder is? or, What produced it? or, How it was provided? or, To what End it serves? and, For what Reason it is proper and good to be used? Acts of this kind are too high for Animals which are meerly Sensitive; Their Phancies go no further than the Crib: They are well satisfy'd with the bare enjoyment of that which is before them. The Considering part belongs [Page 429] to Man: To observe the natural dif­ference between Things and Things; to examine their distinct Causes, Pro­perties, Dispositions, and Uses; and so to look into their intrinsick Essences and Natures; this is the peculiar work and business of a Soul that is Rati­onal.

2. We find in our selves, that we have a power to understand also; that is, a Faculty and Ability to comprehend the Reason, and Condition, and Phi­losophy of Matters; nay, to know many things which are not directly ob­vious to our outward Senses. That Perception which is in Animals Irratio­nal, is an Idea in the Phancy, deriv'd from those Efsluvium's, Rays, and Ima­ges of external Objects, which are im­prest upon the Hearing, Seeing, Smel­ling, Tasting, or Feeling-Faculty, and so convey'd through the Nerves into the Brain. These are sensible Phan­tasms; and the possessing of an Ani­mal with them is properly called Sensa­tion, because the Creature is affected with a sensible Object, meerly by the use of its Senses. But Sensation is one thing, and Intellection or Understand­ing [Page 430] is another. This properly is, when a Man's Mind is so possest and enlight­ned with Intelligible Notions, or with such Idea's as are not subject to corpo­real Sense, and therefore such as cannot be stampt upon the Mind by Motion or Pressure from Bodies without us; but such Idea's as spring out of the Mind it self, by an active, exerting Power that is native to it. There are many kinds of such intelligible Noti­ons, as do not fall under external Sense, and yet are very clear and evident to us: As several Certainties in Mathe­maticks, which appear from Demon­stration; divers Truths in Natural Phi­losophy, which we are convinced of by pure Reason; several Moral Verities, which we are assured of, from the im­mutable Natures of Vice and Virture; several Doctrines in Theology which our Minds yield us, from the Contem­plation of the Divine Attributes and Perfections: Besides divers such com­mon Notions as these, wherein all Mankind are agreed of themselves, That what hath not any Being, can­not act; That things which agree in one Third, agree among themselves; That the Cause is in order of Nature [Page 431] before the Effect; That Equals added unto Equals, do make Equals; That Nothing can produce it self out of No­thing; and the like: These are eter­nal Truths, which depend not upon Sense, but upon natural, certain Rea­son; for they would be Truths though there were not any Sensitive Creatures in the World. Now this is a noble Power in the Soul, which sets it infi­nitely above the Souls of Irrational Creatures, in that it can act within it self abstractedly from Matter; and without using the Bodily Senses, can speculate and understand those leading Truths, and necessary Notions, which are in order to the greatest Underta­kings, and inable the Mind of Man to search into all the Secrets of Na­ture; to open the Mysteries of the Creation; to invent Arts; to improve Sciences; to prescribe the most com­mendable Rules of Life; and, in short, to govern the World: All which I shall shew is an Argument of the Exi­stence of an absolutely perfect Mind, or a God, that formed the Rational Soul with Divine Faculties and Powers to act under him.

[Page 432]3. Thirdly, We find in our selves a Power to deduce one thing out of ano­ther by way of Inference; and by comparing Notions with Notions, and by sifting them narrowly, to gather and conclude in the End, that this is True, and that False; this is Right, and that Wrong; and so to go on, still draw­ing of Consequents out of Antecedents; which is usually call'd Ratiocination, or Mental Discourse. As for Exam­ple; Though we discern not our own Souls, nor can behold them with our Eyes, yet in regard that we think, and meditate, and reason in our selves, we strongly conclude, that they are Be­ings actually existing, because it is most certain, that what is not, cannot ope­rate. In like manner, though the Be­ing of God be quite out of the Ken of our corporeal Senses, yet consider­ing what bright manifestations there are in the World, of wonderful Good­ness, Power, and Wisdom, we rightly infer, That it was framed by a Supreme Being, of the most adorable and ex­cellent Perfections. And so it is in in­numerable other Instances; though there are ten thousand things in Na­ture, [Page 433] whose Contextures are not sub­ject to the Cognizance of our Senses, yet by arguing either à priori, from the manifest Cause to the Effect; or à posteriori, from the manifest Effect to the Cause, we proceed to satisfa­ctory Inferences; because if this thing be granted, then, according to the common Principles of Reason, that thing will follow. This is to Reason, and Argue, and to Discourse in our Minds; and it is a Faculty whereof the Souls of Irrational Creatures are not capable; because sine and close reasoning is vastly above bare and naked Sensation: It requires strong Meditati­on, great rowling of Thoughts, and a firm linking of Notions to Notions in a Chain; so that Rational Premises may fairly and regularly draw on Rational Conclusions: All which Brute Crea­tures can no more do, than they can study Philosophy, or understand Books of Metaphysicks and Logick.

4. Fourthly, We feel in our selves a power of directing us in all our Mo­ral Actions, and of reflecting upon our Actions after they are done; and this we call Conscience, meaning the Judg­ment [Page 434] of a Man as it relates to the pra­ctice of Vertue and Honesty. There are some Actions which are unchange­ably good; and others which are im­mutably Evil: Their Natures are so utterly opposite, that it is as impossible to make Vice Vertue, or Vertue Vice, as it is to reconcile Light and Dark­ness. The Notions of such things eve­ry one does carry in himself; nor is any Soul of Man so void and destitute of them, but that the most unpolisht and barbarous People understand in some measure what is Right and Just. Accordingly we find something within us, which before an Action is done, tells us secretly what is necessary, sit, and proper for us to do: And when our unreasonable Inclinations and Pas­sions carry us on to do that which is contrary to those good Dictates, we find something within us, that doth reprehend and blame, and fly upon us, and many times doth wound us so, that we, are very sore, and our Minds are full of great Anguish and Torment. To which purpose are those Words of St. Paul, Rom. 2. 14, 15. where speak­ing of the Gentiles, he faith, That though they had not the Law (writ­ten [Page 435] in two Tables, as the Jews had) yet they did by nature the things contain'd in the law, and having not the law, were a law unto themselves. Which shew'd the work of the law written in their hearts; their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts among themselves either ac­cusing or else exausing one another. Now this Faculty of governing and regula­ting all our Moral Actions, and of passing Sentence upon them, is an ex­cellence of the Rational Soul, which cannot be pretended to be in any A­nimals which are purely Sensitive, how sagacious soever they appear; because Actions natural are the highest they can go to. As for the Rules of Sobriety, Righteousness, and Godliness, they are wholly destitute of them, as destitute as a Stone is of Sense, or as a Plant is of Reason. And hence it is that their Souls are mortal. Whether they be altogether material, or so necestarily depending upon Matter that they can­not subsist without a Body, I will not now dispute. No question but they perish with their Bodies: For having no Law of Morality to act by, they cannot be accountable either for Obe­dience or Transgression, and so can­not [Page 436] be supposed to survive, because they are uncapable either of Reward or Punishment in another World; as being without all Power of Reflecting, and consequently of having any Joys or Remorse of Mind in this.

To conclude this Consideration; Be­sides a Principle of Life, a Power of Sensation, and a Faculty of retaining Idea's which spring from things with­out us, we find in our selves such high and exquisite Powers, that supposing a Being Angelical, and next to a Dei­ty, was to have been form'd on pur­pose that it should be invested with Humane Flesh, there to display the great Glories of its Nature, we can­not conceive how a Being could have been made more like to an Angel, than the Rational Soul is: A Being that is able to search into the Secrets of Nature, and into the invisible things of God; to entertain it self with lofty Contemplations; to discover re­condite mysterious Truths; to open the Treasures of Philosophy; to fill the World with Histories of things past, and to foresee things to come, things which naturally must, or probably may happen; to know all that a Finite [Page 437] Creature is well capable of knowing; to set out the just Boundaries between Good and Evil; to inform the World how far they may honourably and safe­ly go, and what they are at their Pe­ril to avoid; to employ Mankind in the most curious Arts; to furnish them with the most delightful and useful Sciences; to give measures to all States and Princes; to prescribe to all So­cieties the truest Methods for their Preservation and Welfare; to shew them what noble Ends they are to pursue, and what are the wisest and best means of bringing those Ends to pass; to fit Men for the greatest and most generous Undertakings, and to make them Men of Renown; to in­spire them with laudable Ambition, and upon animating Hopes to found glorious Atchievements, and to erect the Fortunes of Kingdoms; to make us aspire towards the highest and most excellent Enjoyments: In short, to help us to do all the great things that can be done by mortal Crea­tures here; and in the midst of our Labours under the Sun, to shew us a Glimpse of another World, and to sit us for a Blessed and Eternal State in it.

[Page 438]2. These are the noble Powers of the Rational Soul; and hence I argue, in the Second place, that this Excel­lence of it is a manifestation of the Existence of a God; because these high Endowments and Faculties could not be derived from the casual Modi­fications of Dead and Senseless Mat­ter, but from the Agency of an in­telligent Cause, that is eminently and absolutely Perfect.

For it is a certain Principle of Rea­son, That there cannot be more in the Effect than there is in the Cause. If there could be more, it would fol­low that Something can come of it self out of Nothing, which is impossible. Defect of Power in an Agent, is a Non-Entity, a want of Being, a Pri­vation, an incapacity, an utter No­thing: Nor is it conceivable how any thing can be drawn into Existence out of it, but by a superiour, uncontroul­able Power over it: For should we suppose it to produce any thing of it self, we should suppose it to produce that which it hath not power to bring forth, and to give it a Being which it hath not at all it self; that is, to bring it out of an Incapacity, or out of No­thing: [Page 439] Which no Humane Reason can think how a thing can do by any Ca­suality of its own, because there is a defect of such Casuality. If then there be something more and higher in a Rational Soul than what is in Matter, it must be inconsistent with Reason to imagine, that Matter caused it; for then it would necessarily follow, that it caused it without a Power, or by its Incapacity, Inability, and Defect; that is, out of Nothing. When we observe this admirable frame of Na­ture, the Universe, can we think that its Order was effectively caused by Confusion? Its Harmony by Discord? Its Beauty by Disproportions? the Use­fulness of its parts by Errour? Its wise and regular Fabrication by Nonsense? This were to make one Contrary, the cause of another; and with parity of Reason it might be said, that Water produceth Fire; and Darkness made the Sun; and that Death is the effici­ent Cause of Life, Sense and Motion. In like manner, when we consider the Nature and Faculties of the Rational Soul, and compare the whole frame of it with the Substance and Properties of dull, lifeless, and incogitative Mat­ter, [Page 440] can we think that Corporiety was the cause of a thing that is immaterial? that Divisibility was the cause of a Being immortal? that Reason was the work of Stupidity? that Atoms taught us to Philosophize? that Wisdom sprang from the motion of little Bo­dies, void of all Art, Skill, and Know­ledge? and that the Powers we find within us to act with Freedom and Choice; to direct our Actions by the Logick of Truth, and by the Laws of Vertue; to desire and intend our Good in all things; to pursue it with Eagerness, Understanding, and Delight; and to rejoyce in the Fruition of it; can we think, I say, that all these things came from the Chance-Operations of Matter, which hath nothing of Sense or Thought in it? It may as well be said, that the tumbling of Stones and Timber together will produce Sensation, Intel­lection, Reasoning, Memory, Prudence, Conscience, together with those Passi­ons and Affections which we feel with­in us: In short, It may be as well said, that a Rational Soul can be edu­ced and drawn out of an Heap of Rub­bish. As an Effect cannot naturally proceed from a contrary Cause; so [Page 441] neither can an Effect transcend the Perfection and Vertue of its natural Cause. It may fall short of it; or it may come up to a degree of equality with it; but it can no more go beyond or above it, than Waters can naturally run higher than the Fountain-Head stands. So that were there nothing in the World besides dead and senseless Matter, mo­dified into various Forms at a venture, by undesigning and unintending Mo­tion, it were impossible for a Rational Soul to spring out of it; for the Ef­fect would be much nobler than the Cause, and consequently would e­merge out of nothing. For I ask; Were the Perfections of a Rational Soul in Matter before the Soul was made, or were they not? If you sup­pose they were, then this ridiculous Con­ceit will follow, that Atoms have in them Knowledge, Wisdom, Morality, Liberty of Will, and such other Perfections which belong unto the Soul. If they were not antecedently there, then this ridi­culous Conceit will follow, That Perfe­ctions were caused by Incapacity; or that Matter gave a perfect Being an Exi­stence, which it self had not to give: Which would be a plain Contradicti­on; [Page 442] and would moreover ascribe a creative Power to Matter (though it be a thing altogether Passive) when the Men I now dispute against will not allow a Deity it self that Power, be­cause they think it an impossibility.Dr. Cud­worth Int. Syst. p. 862 Hence a Learned Author concludes positively, that neither can Matter, (which is a mee [...] Passive thing) effi­ciently produce a Soul, nor a Soul Matter; no finite imperfect Substance being able to produce another Sub­stance out of nothing; much less can such a Substance as hath a lower de­gree of Entity and Perfection in it, create that which hath an higher. There is a Scale or Ladder of Perfe­ctions in the Universe, one above ano­ther; and the Production of things cannot possibly be in way of Ascent from lower to higher, but must of necessity be in way of Descent, from higher to lower. Now to produce a­ny one higher Rank of Being from the lower, as Cogitation from Magnitude and Body, is plainly to invert this Or­der in the Scale of the Universe, from downwards to upwards; and by the same reason that one higher Rank or Degree in this Scale is thus unnatural­ly [Page 443] produced from a lower, may all the rest be produced also.

The Consequence of all this is, That Matter being so utterly uncapable of making an immaterial, immortal, intel­ligent Soul; there must be a most per­fect Mind that gave it its Faculties and its Nature. Either it must be supposed to have no Cause at all, (which would be most absurd to imagine) or it must have a competent Cause; or a higher and most perfect Being to derive its Existence from. A spiritual Substance cannot come but from a Spirit; nor can any thing be the cause of Mind but Mind; or of Understanding but Un­derstanding; or of Reason but Rea­son; nor of Self-activity and Liberty, but that which is a self-active, volun­tary and free Agent. Since the ration­al Soul is so excellent a Creature, there must be a most excellent Being that created it; a Being that contains all manner of Perfection; a Being of un­limited Power that could make it of Nothing, by the force and fecundity of his own Divine Will; and a Being of the most exalted and glorious Na­ture that could give Existence to such an admirable Being, as every humane [Page 444] Soul is; void of Matter and Corrup­tion; uncapable Naturally of dying; in every respect like unto a Deity; Spiritual, Intelligent, Active, Wise, Powerful, Benign, Kind and Good.

But those unreasonable Men who de­ny the Existence of God, finding them­selves prest with the invincible force of this Argument, would shift it off by pretending that what we suppose touch­ing the spiritual Nature and Faculties of Mens Souls, is not to be granted. They say that there is nothing real in the World but Matter and Motion: That our very Souls themselves are Mat­ter, consisting of a smoother and siner sort of Atoms, or indiscernible Motes; by the various Motions and Modifica­tions whereof the Soul Thinks, Un­derstands, Exerts the Will, and Act­eth. They will have mind to be no­thing but the local Motion of some more active Particles of Matter. They will have Knowledge to be nothing but a Passion caused by the intromitting of Images into the Brain, from sensible Objects without. They will have Memo­ry to be nothing but the decaying re­mainder of Motion; like the sound about a Bell when it has done ringing. [Page 445] And every act and determination of the Will, they would have to be Cli­namen Principiorum, or a declination of Atoms from a kind of perpendicular Line, in which they suppose them to have hung before: So that according to these Men, every Operation of the Soul lieth in Atoms, and is derived from Atoms; which Whimsies deserve Laughter rather than any grave or so­ber Confutation. For is it possible for Men of true, solid Reason to believe that Atoms can be a bubling Fountain of Thoughts? That they can study, contemplate, perceive, argue, form Opinions, resolve Doubts, discover Truth, find out the different Natures of Good and Evil, direct our Actions, tell us what we must Do, and what we must Avoid, promise Rewards, or threaten us with Punishment? Nay in­flict Punishment presently, and plague wicked People with the intolerable Smart that attends an evil Conscience? They may as well say that Atoms can write Books; that the whole material World is an Academy of all manner of Learning; and that the Motes which we see dancing in the Sun-beams, are so many Historians, Orators, Philoso­phers [Page 446] and Divines. The truth is, 'Tis not Reason that is the Ground-work of those wild Conceits, but a sad Ne­cessity they bring upon themselves of running to the most monstrous Absur­dities, to avoid all Thoughts of a God, whose Existence they have disowned. For it there be such a thing as a ra­tional Soul distinct from Matter and Body, it must inevitably follow that there is also a Deity who gave it its Being, because nothing but a Deity could give it. Therefore they who have the Front to deny the Being of a Deity, are forced to deny the immate­riality of the Soul of course. And yet that the Soul is immaterial, its excel­lent Powers, Faculties and Operations will convince any one, that will but lay his Hand upon his Heart, and give himself leave to think soberly. For if the Soul be Matter, How came Men to dispute about its Immateriality? How had the Mind any Notion of it? How did the Mind get it at first, since it is infinitely too high for Matter? Nay, since the Notion of Incorporiety is so contrary and repugnant to the Nature and Notion of Matter: If the Soul be Matter, How comes it to judge of ma­terial [Page 474] Representations, and to discover those Impostures and Cheats, which Matter many times puts upon the Ima­gination? As for instance, The Sun is found to be vastly bigger than the whole Earth, though it appears to the Eye and Fansie to be but a Foot wide. There are a thousand other Errors wherewith our Senses and Imaginations are apt to be deluded: And how could the Mind look through all those Errors into the Truth and Reality of things, if it were not a nobler Being than Mat­ter that measures sensible Objects by intelligible Ideas of its own, which are the proper Criterions of Truth? If the Soul were Matter, How could it be ca­pable of Reflecting within it self? Or how could it Recollect so many things done long ago, in the Days of ones Minority, and Recover so many fugi­tive Ideas, as we find it doth Com­mand; and this by a native Power of its own, purely by the strength of thinking? Matter cannot act upon Mat­ter, but by some impulse from with­out it; much less can it act upon it self, as the Soul does, by a peculiar Faculty it has of casting about, and of rouling Thoughts within the Minds; and there­fore [Page 448] it must be a noble Being distinct from Matter that hath a Principle of Activity, and an Empire within it self. If it were Matter, How could it com­mand the Body in every Instance, and make it obey at Pleasure? Nay, how could it command it self to think on this Subject, or that, as it listeth? To go on a Meditating, or give it over? To resolve upon that Action, or another, without controul? How could it forsee, deliberate, or advise? How could it entertain any inward Pleasures and Joys; impressions which Matter can no more receive than Rocks can dance? How could it contemplate so excellent a Being as a Deity? Or discourse of Eternity and another World? Or pos­sess wicked Wretches with such Fears as they can never quite rid their Mind of? Or fill good Men with comfortable Hopes of a Reward? The natures of Good and Evil, and the Ideas of Di­vine Justice and Benignity, are too Su­blime to fall under Sense, nor can they be incident to Matter; and he must have the most ridiculous Conceptions in the World of his own Frame, who thinks that the Operations and Per­fections of his Soul are no higher or [Page 445] better than what Clay, or Pebbles, or Chips would be capable of, were their Particles but otherwise modified.

Hence we infer, That the rational Soul is of far higher Extraction than what Stone or Timber can pretend to: That it is infinitely of a more noble Na­ture than Atoms of Dust: And that its Operations and Perfections are vastly different from the Properties of Mat­ter, how fine soever you suppose it to be. And therefore it will follow, either that these Operatiosn and Per­fections sprang from Nothing; or that there is a Being of the most eminent and absolute Perfections, from whom they are derived; which indeed is the only true and satisfactory Account that can be given of the Nature and Facul­ties of a rational Soul.

I have hitherto argued from Reason only; because they who deny the Ex­istence of a Deity, are constrained by necessary Consequence to deny Divine Revelation too, and the Authority of the Holy Scriptures. However we may ex abundanti observe, what Moses tells us, Gen. 1. 27. God created man in his own image, in the image of God created be him: And what St. Paul tells [Page 446] us, 1 Cor. 11. 7. That a man is the image and glory of God. Which places of Scripture, though they are to be un­derstood partly of that Dominion, Au­thority and Power, which God hath given Man as his Vicegerent and Repre­sentative over all things here below; yet do they, I conceive, speak also, and perhaps chiefly of that Similitude and Resemblance, which the Soul of every one of us, does, in its Frame, bear of the Divine Nature and Perfe­ctions; which will a little further shew its Excellence, and consequently the Existence of a super-eminent Being, whose Stamp and Impress it carries as far as the Capacities of a Creature can admit it.

We find how volatile and nimble our Thoughts are, how soon they reach the very ends of the Earth; how quickly they compass Sea and Land; with what Facility they mount to Hea­ven; how speedily they take a view of the whole Frame of Nature, as it were at once; and with what Celerity the Mind does gather and comprehend within it self so many different Ideas. And what is this but an imperfect Re­presentation of the Omnipresence of [Page 447] that God, Who is said to fill heaven and earth? Jer. 23. 24. Nay, Whom the heaven, and heaven of heavens cannot contain? 1 King. 8. 27.

We find also, That notwithstanding this Divine Activity of the Mind, and its Ubiquitary Rangings abroad, we can command it home, and make it re­tire into a delightful Solitude, to view those entertaining Ideas within it self; and we do often fix it so, that out­ward Objects cannot draw it off from the inward Operations it is intent upon, nor deprive it of the great Pleasures of Contemplation, and of Enjoying its own private Thoughts. And what is this but a faint Similitude of the All­sufficiency and Plenitude of a God, who standeth not in need of any things without himself, but is infinitely Bles­sed in the Contemplation of the Glo­ries of his own Nature, and in the eternal Fruition of his own unspeaka­ble Perfections.

We find too, That though we know but in part, yet we can not only ob­serve things present and before us, but can moreover call back things past and gone, and foresee Events that are Fu­ture or Possible; and can represent [Page 448] them all to our Minds, as if they were all now under our Eye. And what is this, but an umbratile shew of the Omniscience of a God, whose Under­standing is infinite, Psal. 47. 5. And before whom Hell and Destruction, and all the Hearts of the Children of Men are? Prov. 15.

We find again, That there is in the Mind of Man a wonderful Fecundity of Power, to do almost any thing which is Necessary, Good, Honourable and Excellent: To form Notions, as it were, out of Nothing, and out of those Notions, which comparatively seem next to Nothing, to draw by the gradual Methods of Study and Consideration, Systems of Philosophy, Platforms of Politicks, Schemes and Models of Arts, Volumes of Divinity; and whatever is useful or tendeth to improve the Knowledge, and to answer the Wants of Mankind. And what is this, but a weak Resemblance of the Omnipo­tence of that God, who by the infi­nite Fecundity of his Divine Power created all Things out of Nothing; Who spake and they were done, who com­manded and they stood fast? Ps. 33. 9.

[Page 449]We find moreover in the Mind of Man a constant Disposition to do every thing for the sake of some Good, ei­ther real, or at least apparent; and accordingly to deliberate about the Choice of necessary and proper Means. And what is this but a little Signature of God's Wisdom, Who worketh all things according to the counsel of his own will, Ephes 1. 11. And maketh every thing to work together for the good of them that love him, Rom. 8. 28.

We find furthermore in the Mind of Man innate Principles of Righteousness and Benignity; which no tract of Time, no Humours or Arts of People can to­tally obliterate, though the base Incli­nations, and selfish Practices of some have strangely defaced them; for even Publicans and Sinners will do good to them, at whose Hands they have re­ceived good. And what is this but some Similitude of a God, who is Righ­teous in all his Ways; and whose Mer­cy is over all his Works; though it cometh vastly short of that Pattern which the Son of God gave the World from his Father, Who causeth his sun to shine upon the evil as well as upon the [Page 450] good, and sends his rain upon the just and unjust also, Matth. 5. 45.

Some more Instances and Respects there are, wherein the Soul of Man does in some (though very scanty) measure resemble a Being that is emi­nently and absolutely Perfect. But these being added to the other Consi­derations, touching the immateriality and immortality of its Nature, and the excellence of its Faculties and Powers, are enough to make it appear to all reasonable Men, that there is verily a God above, after whose Image and Like­ness the rational Soul is created. And this I have used as the last Argument to prove the Existence of a Deity, be­cause it cometh so home and close that no Man can renounce a God, but by renouncing his own humane Nature, and by making himself like unto the very Beasts that perish, and are without understanding.

I have now, I thank God, gone through with what brevity I could all those things which I proposed at my first entrance upon this Subject, to con­firm you in the rational belief of the [Page 451] true and ever blessed God, in an Age which so aboundeth with Infidelity. Considering how Men on that side are wont to say, that we can have no Idea of God, because a Deity is supposed to be incorporeal, not subject to Sense; and so that a Deity is an unconceivable Nothing; therefore I did think it ne­cessary in the first place to shew what the Notion of God meaneth; namely a Being of eminent and absolute Per­fections. Out of which general De­scription there follows, by necessary Consequence, a more particular ac­count of those Perfections which relate, either to the Nature of God, as Inde­pendency, Incorporeity, Eternity, &c. or as to God's Actions, as perfect Know­ledge, Wisdom, Power, Goodness, and the like. Then having shewed how Intelligible and Rational this Notion of God is, though it be not any sensi­ble Idea, as those are which come from corporeal Objects without us, I pro­ceeded, in the next place, to prove there actually is such a perfect Being. 1. From the order of Causes, which obligeth us to acknowledge that there must be one first Cause, Self-existent and Eternal; or a Being not made by [Page 452] any other, and the like. 2. From the general consent of Mankind, which cannot rationally be ascribed to any but that first Cause, who is the com­mon Author of humane Nature. 3. From some extraordinary Occurrences, which plainly shew that there is a supreme Be­ing of the most perfect Knowledge and Power. 4. From the Frame and State of the World, which is so admirable for its Order, for its Beauty, for the usefulness of its Parts, for the resem­blances of Wisdom in Creatures which are Irrational, and for the ample Pro­vision that is made for the good of all Things, that it would be the most senseless imagination to attribute this goodly Frame of Nature to Matter and Motion, to blind Fortune and Chance, or to any other Cause, but that All­mighty, All-wise, and most benign Be­ing whose Perfections are infinite. And, 5. To evince this further yet, I have taken particular notice of the admira­ble Frame of the rational Soul, which in its Nature, Faculties and manner of Operating, bears an evident Resem­blance and Representation of a Deity.

[Page 453]This whole Speculation being thus ended, I should now, in the last place, draw it down to our Practice, and shew what we are to render unto God for all these bright Manifestations of his Divine Glory; what just Acknow­ledgments they call for at our hands; what Acts of Faith and Admiration, of Humility and Holiness; of Adora­tion and Praise, of Love and Obedi­ence, and Imitation, and the like Ex­pressions of Religion, are due from us. But this Subject is so copious, as well as of such great importance, that it ought to be handled distinctly, and with Care, and therefore requires a Discourse by it self. At present I shall conclude with a devout Hymn out of the Writings of the Holy Psalmist, who considering the transcendent Greatness of God's Majesty, the Glory of his Nature, the Variety of his Works, and his stupendious Wisdom, Power, and Goodness throughout all, summon'd the whole World to join with him in the Adoration of their great and only Creator.

O praise the Lord of heaven: praise him in the height.
...Praise him all ye angels of his: praise him all his host.
Praise him sun and moon: praise him all ye stars and light.
Praise him all ye heavens: and ye wa­ter that are above the heavens.
Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he spake the word and they were made, he commanded and they were created.
He hath made them fast for ever and ever: he hath given them a law which shall not be broken.
Praise the Lord upon earth, ye dragons and all deeps.
Fire and hail, snow and vapours, wind and storm, fulfilling his word.
Mountains and all hills: fruitful trees and all cedars.
Beasts and all cattel: worms and fea­thered fowls.
Kings of the earth and all people: princes and all judges of the world.
Young men and maidens, old men and children; praise the name of the Lord: for his name only is excellent, and his praise above heaven and earth, Psalm, 148.
[Page 455]O speak good of the Lord all ye works of his, in all places of his dominion. Praise thou the Lord, O my soul, Psalm 103. 22.

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