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deavour to make men doubtful in regard to this great and glorious truth, The BEING OF God, do everything in their power to overturn government, to unhinge fociety, to eradicate virtue, to destroy hap= piness, and to promote confufion, madness, and misery..
409. On what human reason discovers of the Divine nature is partly founded the evidence éven of revelation itfelf. For no pretended revelation can be true, which contradicts what by human reason is demonstrable of the divine perfections. We do not prove from Scripture, that God exists; because they who deny God deny the authority of Scripture too. But when, by rational proof, we have evinced his being and attributes, we may then ascertain the truth of divine revelation, or detect the falsehood of a pretended one. When we have, from the purity of its doctrine, and the external evidence of miracles, prophecy, and human testimony, satisfied ourselves of the truth of the Christian revelation, it becomes us to believe even fuch parts of it as
could never have been found out by human reason. And thus it is, that our natural notions of God and his providence are wonderfully refined and improved by what is revealed in holy writ: so that the. meanest of our people, who has had a Chris stian education, knows a great deal more on these subjects, than could ever be difcovered by the wisest of the antient philosophers. That many things in the divine government, and many particulars relating to the divine nature, as declared in Scripture, should surpass our comprehension, is not to be wondered at; for we are daily puzzled with things more within our sphere : we know that our own foul and body are united, but of the manner of that union we know nothing. A past eternity we cannot comprehend; and a future eternity is an object by which our reason is astonished and confounded : yet nothing can be more certain, than that one eternity is past and another to come...
410. In evincing the being of God, two sorts of proof have been employed; which are called the proofs, a priori and a posterio
ri. In the former, the being of God is proved from this consideration, that his existence is necessary, and that it is absurd and impossible to suppose that he does not exist. This argument is fully discussed by Dr Clarke, in the first part of his excellent book on the evidence of natural and revealed religion. The proof a posteriori shows, from the present constitution of things, that there is and must be a Supreme Being, of infinite goodness, power, and wisdom, who created and supports them. This last is the most obvious proof, and the most easily comprehended; and withal so satisfying, that the man must be mad who refuses to be convinced by it. I shall therefore, give a brief account of this argument; referring to Dr Clarke for the other.- Natural Theology consists of two parts. In the first, we demonstrate the existence of God; in the second, his attributes. These parts however are strictly connected; for the same arguments that prove the first prove also the second.
411. THAT we ourselves and innumer
1:able other things exist, may be taken for granted, a a first principle, as evident as any, axiom in Euclid. Hence we infer, that something must always have existed. For if ever there was a time when nothing existed, there must have been a time when something began to be; and that some thing must have come into being without a cause ; fince, by the supposition, there was nothing before it. But that a thing should begin to exist, and yet proceed from no cause, is both abfurd and inconceivable; all men, by the law of their nature, being necessarily determined to believe, that' whatever begins to exist proceeds from some cause. Therefore some being must have existed from eternity.-This being must have been either dependent on something else, or not dependent on any thing else. Now an eternal succession of depend3 B 2
ent beings, or a being which is dependent and yet exists from eternity, is impoflible. For if every part of such a succession be dependent, then the whole must be so; and, if the whole be dependent, there must be something on which it depends ; and that fomething must be prior in time to that ' which depends on it; which is impossible, if that which is dependent be from eternity. It follows, that there must be an eternal and independent being, on whom all other beings depend. • 412. Some atheists seem to acknowledge a first cause, when they ascribe the origin of the universe to chance. But it is not easy to guess what they mean by this word. We call those things accidental, casual, or the effects of chance, whose immediate causes we are unacquainted with; as the chan-' . ges of the weather, for example; which however every body believes to be owing to fome adequate cause, though we cannot find it out. Sometimes, when an intelligent being does a thing without design, as when a man throwing a stone out of his field happens to strike a man whom he did not fee; it is called accidental. In affirm