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world, with which no former commerce hath been known, although the customs of the people be much different, and their manner of religion hold small correspondency with any in these parts of the world professed, yet in this all agree, that some religious observances they retain, and a Divinity they acknowledge. Or if any nation be discovered which maketh no profession of piety, and exerciseth no religious observances, it followeth not from thence that they acknowledge no God: for they may only deny his providence, as the Epicureans did'; or if any go farther, their numbers are so few, that they must be inconsiderable in respect of mankind. And therefore 80 much of the Creed hath been the general confession of all nations, I believe in God; which were it not a most certain truth grounded upon principles obvious unto all, what reason could be given of so universal a consent ? or how can it be imagined, that all men should conspire to deceive themselves and their posterity ?
Nor is the reason only general, and the consent unto it universal, but God hath still preserved and quickened the worship due unto his name, by the patefaction of himself. Things which are to come are so beyond our knowledge, that the wisest man can but conjecture: and seeing we are assured of the contingency of future things, and our ignorance of the concurrence of several free causes to the production of an effect, we may be sure that certain and infallible predictions are clear divine patefactions ; for none but he who made all things, and gave them power to work; none but he who ruleth all things, and ordereth and directeth all their operations to their ends; none but he upon whose will the actions of all things depend, can possibly be imagined to foresee the effects depending merely on those causes. And therefore by what means we may be assured of a prophecy, by the same we may be secured of a Divinity. Except then all the annals of the world were forgeries, and all remarks of history designed to put a cheat upon posterity, we can have no pretence to suspect God's existence, having such ample testimonies of his influence.
The works of nature appear by observation uniform, and there is a certain sphere of every body's power and
activity. If then any action be performed, which is not within the compass of the power any natural agent; if any thing be wrought by the intervention of a body which beareth no proportion to it, or hath no natural aptitude so to work; it must be ascribed to a cause transcending all natural causes, and disposing all their operations. Thus every miracle proves its author, and every act of omnipotency is a sufficient demonstration of a Deity. And that man must be possessed with a strange opinion of the weakness of our fathers, and the testimony of all former ages, who shall deny that ever any miracle was wrought. “We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us what works thou didst in their days, in the times of old,” Psal. xliv. i. "Blessed be the Lord God, who only doth wondrous works,” Ps. lxxii. 18.
Nor are we only informed by the necessary dependency of all things on God, as effects upon their universal cause, or his external patefactions unto others, and the consentient acknowledgment of mankind; but every particular person hath a particular remembrancer in himself, as a sufficient testimony of his Creator, Lord,
We know there is a great force of conscience in all men, by which their thoughts are ever accusing, or excusing them. They feel a comfort in those virtuous actions which they find themselves to have wrought according to their rule, a sting and secret remorse for all vicious acts and impious machinations. Nay, those who strive most to deny a God, and to obliterate all sense of Divinity out of their own souls, have not been least sensible of this remembrancer in their breasts. It is true indeed, that a false opinion of God, and a superstitious persuasion which hath nothing of the true God in it, may breed a remorse of conscience in those who think it true; and therefore some may hence collect that the force of conscience is only grounded upon an opinion of a Deity, and that opinion may be false; but if it be a truth, as the testimonies of the wisest writers of most different persuasions, and the experience of all sorts of persons of most various inclina
that the remorse of conscience can never be obliterated, then it rather proveth than supposeth an opinion of a Divinity; and that man who most peremptorily denieth God's existence is the greatest argument himself that there is a God. Let Caligula profess himself an atheist, and with that profession hide his head or run under his bed, when the thunder strikes his ears and the lightning flashes in his eyes ; those terrible works of nature put him in mind of the power, and his own guilt of the justice of God; whom while in his wilful opinion he weakly denieth, in his involuntary action he strongly asserteth. So that a Deity will either be granted or extorted, and where it is not acknowledged it will be manifested. Only unhappy is that man who denies him to himself, and proves him to others; who will not acknowledge his existence, of whose power he cannot be ignorant; “God is not far from every one of us,” Acts xvii. 27. The
discourse of St. Paul to the philosphers of Athens was, that "they might feel after him and find him." Some children have been so ungracious as to refuse to give the honor due unto their parent, but never any so irrational as to deny they had a father. As for those who have dishonored God, it may stand most with their interest, and therefore they may wish there were none; but it cannot consist with their reason to assert there is none, when even the very poets of the heathen have taught us that “we are his offspring." .
It is necessary thus to believe there is a God, first, because there can be no divine faith without this belief; for all faith is therefore only divine, because it relieth upon the authority of God giving testimony to the object of it; but that which hath no being can have no authority, can give no testimony. The ground of his authority is his veracity, the foundations of his veracity are his omniscience and sanctity, both which suppose his essence and existence, because what is not is neither knowing nor holy.
Secondly; it is necessary to believe a Deity, that thereby we may acknowledge such a nature extant as is worthy of, and may justly challenge from us, the highest worship and adoration. For it were vain to be religious and to exercise devotion, except there were a Being to whom all such holy applications were most justly due. Adoration implies submission and dejection, so that while we worship we cast down ourselves: there must be therefore some great eminence in the object worshipped, or else we should dishonor our own nature in the worship of it. But when a Being is presented of that intrinsical and necessary perfection, that it depends on nothing, and all things else depend on it, and are wholly governed and disposed by it, this worthily calls us to our knees, and shows the humblest of our devotions to be but just and loyal retributions.
This necessary truth hath been so universally received, that we shall always find all nations of the world more prone unto idolatry than to atheism, and readier to multiply than deny the Deity. But our faith teacheth us equally to deny them both, and each of them is renounced in these words, I believe in God; First, in God affirmatively, I believe he is, against Atheism; secondly, in God exclusively, not in Gods, against polytheism and idoltary. Although therefore the existence and unity of God be two distinct truths, yet are they of so necessary dependence and intimate coherence, that both may be pressed by one word, and included in one article.
And that the unity of the Godhead is concluded in this article is apparent, not only because the Nicene council so expressed it by way of exposition, but also because this Creed in the churches of the East, before the council of Nice, had that addition in it, I believe in one God. We begin our Creed then as Plato did his chief and prime epistles, who gave this distinction to his friends, that the name of God was prefixed before those that were more serious and remarkable, but of Gods, in the plural, to such as were more vulgar and trivial. "Unto thee it was
ed,” saith Moses to Israel, “ that thou mightest know that the Lord he is God; there is none else beside him,” Deut iv. 35. And as the law, so the gospel teacheth us the same;
- We know that an idol is nothing in the world, and there is none other
God but one," 1 Cor. viii. 4. This unity of the Godhead will easily appear as necessary as the existence, so that it must be as impossible there should be more Gods than one, as that there should be none : which will clearly be demonstrated, first, out of the nature of God, to which multiplication is repugnant; and, secondly, from the government of God as he is Lord, in which we must not admit confusion. For, first, the nature of God consists in this, that he is the prime and original cause of all things, as an independent Being upon whom all things else depend, and likewise the ultimate end or final cause of all; but in this sense two prime causes are inimaginable, and for all things to depend of one, and to be more independent beings than one, is a clear contradiction. This primity God requires to be attributed to himself; “ Hearken unto me, o Jacob, and Israel my called; I am he, I am the first, I also am the last,” Isai. xlviii. 12. And from this primity he challengeth his unity: “ Thus saith the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer the Lord of Hosts; I am the first, and I am the last, and beside me there is no God,” Isai. xliv. 6.
Again; if there were more Gods than one, then were not all perfections in one, neither formally, by reason of their distinction, nor eminently and virtually, for then one should have power to produce the other, and that nature which is producible is not divine. But all acknowledge God to be absolutely and infinitely perfect, in whom all perfections imaginable which are simply such must be contained formally, and all others which imply any mixture of imperfection, virtually.
But were no arguments brought from the infinite perfections of the divine nature able to convince us, yet were the consideration of his supreme dominion sufficient to persuade us. The will of God is infinitely free, and by that freedom doth he govern and dispose of all things. “ He doth according to his will in the army of heaven, and
among the inhabitants of the earth,” said Nebuchadnezzar out of his experience, Dan. iv. 35; and St. Paul expresseth him as “working all things after the counselof his own will.” If then there were more supreme Governors of the world than one, each of them absolute and