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were producible by him) within his power. And it is no finite is not to be looked upon as emerging or springing op wiser an inference from the former, than it would be from of itself out of nothing, or as proceeding from some third this latter, that a house, a book, and a child, are the same thing as its cause, but as produced by that infinite, or thing with one another, and with the person that produced springing out of that, which it could not do, but as being them; because, so far as they were produced by him, he before virtually contained in it. For the infinite produces had it in his power to produce them. And that the effects nothing, which it could not produce. And what it could of divine power are produced thereby totally, whereas those produce, was before contained in it, as in the power of its of human power are produced by it but in part only, doth, cause. And to any one that attends, and is not disposed as to the strength and reasonableness of the argument, to be quarrelsome, this is as plain and easy to be undernothing alter the case.
stood, as how any finite thing may produce another, or And as to the next, That infinite being should seem to rather, more plain and easy, because a finite agent doth exclude all finite; I confess that such as are so disposed, not entirely contain its effect within itself, or in its own might here even wrangle continually, as they might do power, as an infinite doth. If yet it be again said, that about any thing in which infiniteness is concerned ; and which is limited is not infinite, but suppose any finite thing yet therein show themselves (as Seneca I remember speaks produced into being after a pre-existent infinite, this infiin another case) not a wit the more learned, but the more nite becomes now limited í for the being of the finite is not troublesome. But if one would make short work of it, and that of the infinite, each hath its own distinct being. And barely deny that infinite being excludes finite, (as Scotus it cannot be said of the one, it is the other; therefore each doth little else ;!
. besides denying the consequence of the is limited to itself. I answer; that which was infinite beargument, by which it was before enforced, viz. [that an comes not hereby less than it was, for it hath produced infinite body would exclude a finite; for where should the nothing but what was before virtually contained in it, and finite be, when the infinite should fill up all space? And still is, for it still totally sustains the other.—But whatso therefore by parity of reason, why should not infinite being ever it actually doth, it can do, or hath within its power: exclude finite ?] showing the disparity of the two cases) it therefore if it were infinite before, and is not now become would perhaps give them some trouble also to prove it. less, it is still infinite. For which way would they go to work? Infinite self-sub Wherefore the true reason why the position of a finite sisting being includes all being, very true; and therefore, thing after a supposed all-comprehending infinite, doth no we say, it includes finite. And what then? Doth it, be- way intrench upon or detract from the other's all-comprecause it includes it, therefore exclude it? And let the hensive infinity, is, that it was formerly contained, and still matter be soberly considered; somewhat of-finite being is, within the virtue and power of the other. and power, we say, (and apprehend no knoť or difficulty "It is true, that if we should suppose any thing besides in the matter,) can extend so far as to produce some pro- that supposed infinite to be of itself, that would infer a portionable effect, or can do such and such things. And limitation of the former. Infer I say, not cause it ; that is, what, doth it seem likely then, that infinite being and it would not make it cease to be all-comprehendingly infipower can therefore do just nothing? Is it not a reason nite, but it would argue it not to have been so before; and of mighty force, and confoundingly demonstrative, that an that the supposition of its infinity was a false supposition, agent can do nothing, or cannot possibly produce any the because it would then appear that the former did not comleast thing, only because he is of infinite power ?
prehend all being any way in itself. Somewhat being For if there be a simple inconsistency between an infinite now found to be in being, which hath no dependence being and a finite, that will be the case ; that, because the thereon ; whence it would be evident neither can be so. former is infinite, therefore it can produce nothing. For Of which, some good use may be made to a further purwhat it should produce cannot consist with it, i. e. even pose by and by. not being finite; and then certainly if we could suppose Here only we may by the way annex, as a just corollathe effect infinite, much less. But what, therefore, is power ry, from the foregoing discourse, that as the supposition of the less for being infinite ? or can infinite power, even be- necessary self-subsisting matter was before shown to be a cause it is infinite, do nothing? What can be said or vain, it now also appears plainly to be altogether an imposthought more absurd, or void of sense? Or shall it be sible, supposition. For since the necessary self-subsisting said that the infiniteness of power is no hinderance, but the being is infinite and all-comprehensive ; and if matter infiniteness of being ? But how wild an imagination were were supposed necessary, we must have another necessary that of a finite being, that were of infinite power! And being to form the world, inasmuch as matter is not selfbesides, is that power somewhat, or nothing? Surely it active, much less intelligent, as it hath both been proved it will not be said it is nothing. Then it is some being ; cannot be, and that the Former of this world must be. It and if some power be some being, what then is infinite is therefore out of question, that because both cannot be power? is not that infinite being? And now, therefore, if all-comprehensive, they cannot both be necessary. Nor this infinite can produce any thing, which it were a strange can the vastly different kinds or natures of these things madness to deny, it can at least produce some finite thing. salve the business; for be they of what kinds they will, Wherefore there is no inconsistency between the infinite they are still beings. Besides, if matter were necessary and finite beings, unless we say the effect produced, even and self-subsisting, every particle of it must be so. And by being produced, must destroy, or even infinitely impair, then we shall have not only two, but an infinite number of its cause, so as to make it cease at least to be infinite such infinities, and all of the same kind. But being, only But that also cannot possibly be said of that which is infi- of this or that sort, (as is apparent where more sorts do pite and necessary; which, as hath been shown, cannot, exist than one,) could not be simply infinite, except as the by whatsoever productions, suffer any diminution or decay other depends thereon; and as this one is radically comIf here it be further urged, But here is an infinite being prehensive of all the rest, that can come under the general now supposed ; let, next, be supposed the production of a and most common notion of being. For that there is some finite : this is not the same with the other; for surely in- general notion wherein all being agrees, and by which it finite, and finite, are distinguishable enough, and do even differs from no being, is, I think, little to be doubted; how infinitely differ. The finite is either something or nothing: unequally soever, and dependently the one upon the other, nothing it cannot be said; for it was supposed a being, the distinct sorts do partake therein... Whereupon the exand produced; but the production of nothing is no pro pression, super-essential, and others like it, spoken of God, duction. It is somewhat then; here is therefore an infi- | must be understood as rhetorical strains, importing more nite being, and a finite now besides. The infinite, it was reverence than rigid truth. Except by essence, as was forsaid, cannot be diminished; the finite, a real something, is merly said, only that which is created be meant. And that added. Is there therefore nothing more of existent being only a purer and more noble kind of essence were intended than there was before this production ? It is answered, to be asserted to him,m which yet seems also unwarrantable Nothing more than virtually was before ; for when we and injurious, that a word of that import should be so suppose an infinite being, and afterwards a finite; this misapplied and transferred from the substance, to signify I Distinct. 2 Q. 2. Q. 1.
in him any ignorance ; that is, that he means his intelligence is of an infinitely m And we must suppose somewhat agreenhle to this, to be Plotinus's mean distinct and more excellent sort from that which he causes in us, as appears by ing, when he denies knowledge to be in God, and yet also denies that there is his annexed reason, To de TavtWV aittov, OVDE ESIV CEIVwv, Enn. 6. 1. 9.c.6.
nothing but the shadow, rather, of being. And that they who would seem zealously concerned to appropriate all being unto God, should, in the height of their transport
CHAPTER V. so far forget themselves as to set him above all being, and so deny him any at all. For surely that which simply is Demanda in reference to what hath boen hitherto discoured, with some rerabove all being is no being.
existence, it may be in any way suitable to our present state, made known
to us that it doth exist? Proved, 1. That it may. 2. That, since any other X. And as to the unity, or onliness rather, of this being,
fit way that can be thought on is as much liable to exception as that we have or of the God-head, the deduction thereof seems plain and already, this must be, therefore, sufficient. Strong impressione. Gloriou easy from what hath been already proved ; that is, from
apparitions. Terrible voices. Surprising transformation. If these are ne
cessary, is it needful they be universal, frequent? If not, more rare things the absolute perfection thereof. For though some do toil of this sort not wanting. 2. Demand. Can subjects, remote from their prince, themselves much about this matter, and others plainly
sufficiently be assured of his existence? 3. Demand. Can we be sure there
are men on earth? conclude that it is not to be proved at all in a rational way, but only by divine revelation; yet I conceive, they that I. And if any should in the meantime still remain either follow the method (having proved some necessary self-sub- doubtful, or apt to cavil, after all that hath been said for sisting being the root and original spring of all being and proof of that being's existence which we have described, perfection, actual and possible, whích is as plain as any I would only add these few things, by way of inquiry or thing can be) of deducing from thence the absolute, all- demand: viz. comprehending perfection of such necessary being, will First, Do they believe, upon supposition of the existfind their work as good as done. For nothing seems more ence of such a Being, that it is possible it may be made evident, than that there cannot be two (much less more) known to us, in our present state and circumstances, by such beings, inasmuch as one comprehends in itself all being means not unsuitable thereto, or inconvenient to the order and perfection; for there can be but one all, without which and government of the world, that it doth exist? It were is nothing: So that, one such being supposed, another can strange to say or suppose, that a Being of so high perfechave nothing remaining to it. Yea, so far is it therefore, tion as this we have hitherto given an account of, if he is, if we suppose one infinite and absolutely perfect being, cannot in any fit way make it known that he is, to an inthat there can be another, independent thereon, (and of a telligent and apprehensive sort of creatures. depending infinity, we need not say more than we have, If indeed he is, and be the common Cause, Author, which if any such could be, cannot possibly be a distinct and Lord of us and all things, (which we do now but supGod) that there cannot be the minutest finite thing ima- pose: and we may defy cavil to allege any thing that is ginable, which that supposed infinity doth not comprehend, so much as colourable against the possibility of the supor that can stand apart from it, on any distinct basis of its position,) surely he hath done greater things than the makown. And that this matter may be left as plain as we can ing of it known that he is. It is no unapprehensible thing, make it; supposing it already most evident, That there is, There hath been no inconsistent notion hitherto given of actually existing, an absolute, entire fulness of wisdom, him; nothing said concerning him, but will well admit power, and so of all other perfection—That such absolute that it is possible such a Being may be now existent. entire fulness of perfection is infinite—That this infinite Yea, we not only can conceive, but we actually have, and perfection must have its primary seat somewhere-That cannot but have, some conception of the several attributes its primary, original seat can be nowhere, but in necessary we have ascribed to him: so as to apply them, severally, self-subsisting being. We hereupon adá, that if we sup- to somewhat else, if we will not apply them, jointly, to pose multitude, or any plurality of necessary self-originate him. We cannot but admit there is some eternal, necesbeings, concurring to make up the seat or subject of this sary being; somewhat that is of itself active; somewhat infinite perfection ; each one must either be of finite and that is powerful, wise, and good. And these notions have partial perfection, or infinite and absolute. Infinite and in them no repugnancy to one another; wherefore it is not absolute it cannot be, because one self-originate, infinitely impossible they may meet, and agree together, in full perand absolutely perfect being, will necessarily comprehend fection to one and the same existent being. And hence it all perfection, and leave nothing to the rest. Nor finite, is manifestly no unapprehensible thing, that such a Being because many finites can never make one infinite; much doth exist. Now supposing that it doth exist, and hath less ean many broken parcels or fragments of perfection been to us the Cause and Author of our being; hath given ever make infinite and absolute perfection; even though us the reasonable, intelligent nature which we find ourtheir number, if that were possible, were infinite. For the selves possessors of; and that very power whereby we perfection of unity would still be wanting, and their com- apprehend the existence of such a Being as he is to be posmunication and concurrence to any work (even such as sible, (all which we for the present do still but suppose,) we see is done) be infinitely imperfect and impossible. while also his actual existence is not unapprehensible;
We might, more at large, and with a much more pomp were it not the greatest madness imaginable to say, that ous number and apparatus of arguments, have shown that if he do exist, he cannot also make our apprehensive nature there can be no more gods than one. But to such as had understand this apprehensible thing that he doth exist ? rather be informed, than bewildered and lost, clear proofthat We will therefore take it for granted, and as a thing which is shorter, and more comprehensive, will be more grateful. no man well in his wits will deny, that upon supposition
Nor doth this proof of the unity of the God-head any such a Being, the Cause' and Author of all things, do way impugn the trinity, which is by Christians believed, exist, he might, in some convenient way or other, with therein, (and whereof some heathens, as is known, have sufficient evidence, make it known to such creatures as we, not been wholly without some apprehension, however they so as to beget in us a rational certainty that he doth exist. came by it) or exclude a sufficient, uncreated ground of Upon which presumed ground we will only reason thus, trinal distinction. As would be seen, if that great differ- or assume to it; That there is no possible and fit way of ence of beings, necessary and contingent, be well stated, doing it which is not liable to as much exception as the and what is by eternal, necessary emanation of the divine evidence we already have. Whence it will be consequent, catare, be duly distinguished from the arbitrary products that if the thing be possible to be fitly done, it is done of the divine will; and the matter be thoroughly examined, already. That is, that if we can apprehend how it may be whether herein be not a sufficient distinction of that which possible such a Being, actually existent, might give us is increated, and that which is created. In this way it is that evidence of his existence that should be suitable to possible it might be cleared, how a trinity in the God- our present state, and sufficient to out-weigh all objections head may be very consistently with the unity thereof. But to the contrary; (without which it were not rationally suf. that it is, we cannot know, but by his telling us so. It ficient;) and that we can apprehend no possible way of being among the many things of God, which are not to be doing this, which will not be liable to the same, or equal known, but by the Spirit of God revealing and testifying objections, as may be made against the present means we them, in and according to the Holy Scriptures: as the have for the begetting of this certainty in us, then we things of a man are not known but by the spirit of a man. have already sufficient evidence of this Being's existence. And what further evidence we may justly and reasonably That is, such as ought to prevail against all objections, take from those Scriptures, even in reference to some of and obtain our assent that it doth exist. the things hitherto discoursed, may be hereafter shown. Here it is only needful to be considered what ways can
be thought of, which we will say might assure us in this truer for this, only, that such and sach believe it with a matter, that we already have not. And what might be sturdy confidence. It is true, that the universality and objected against them, equally, as against the means we naturalness of such a persuasion, as pointing us to a comnow have.
mon cause thereof, affords the matter of an argument, or II. Will we say such a Being, if he did actually exist, is a medium not contemptible nor capable of answer, as inight ascertain us of his existence, by some powerful im hath been said before. But to be irresistibly captivated pression of that truth upon our minds? We will not insist into an assent, is no medium at all; but an immediate what there is of this already. Let them consider, who gainsay persuasion of the thing itself, without a reason. what they can find of it in their own minds; and whether III. Therefore must it yet be demanded of atheistical they are not engaged by their atheistical inclinations in a persons, what means, that you yet have not, would you contention against themselves, and their more natural sen- think sufficient to put this matter out of doubt ? Will you timents, from which they find it a matter of no small dif- say, some kind of very glorious apparitions, becoming the ficulty to be delivered ? It was not for nothing, that even majesty of such a one as this Being is represented, would Epicurus himself calls this of an existing deity, a prolep- have satisfied ? But if you know how to fancy, that such tical notion. But you may say, the impression might have a thing as the sun, and other luminaries, might have been been simply universal, and so irresistible as to prevent or compacted of a certain peculiar sort of atoms, coming to overbear all doubt, or inclination to doubt.
gether of their own accord, without the direction of a wise And, first
, for the universality of it, why may we not agent; yea, and consist so long and hold so strangely suppose it already sufficiently universal? 'as hath been regular motions; how easy would it be to object that, with heretofore alleged. With what confidence can the few much advantage, against what any temporary apparition, dissenting atheists, that have professed to be of another be it as glorious as you can imagine, might seem to signify persuasion, put that value upon themselves, as to reckon to this purpose ! iheir dissent considerable enough to implead the univer Would dreadful loud voices proclaiming him to be, of sality of this impression ? Or what doth it signify more to whose existence you doubt, have served the turn? It is that purpose, than some few instances may do, of persons likely, if your .ear would have permitted you to use your so stupidly foolish, as to give much less discovery of any wit, you would have had some subtle invention how, by rational faculty than some beasts, to the impugning the some odd rencounter of angry atoms, the air or clouds universal rationality of mankind ?
might become thus terribly vocal. And when you know Besides that, your contrary profession is no sufficient already, that they do sometimes salute your ears with very argument of your contrary persuasion, much less, that you loud sounds, (as when it thunders,) there is little donbt never had any stamp or impression of a Deity upon your but your great wit can devise a way how possibly such minds, or that you have quite rased it out. It is much to sounds might become articulate. And for the sense and be suspected that you hold not your contrary persuasion coherent import of what were spoken; you that are so with that unshaken confidence, and freedom from all fear- good at conjecturing how things might casually happen, ful and suspicious misgivings, as that you have much more would not be long in making a guess that might serve that reason to brag of your disbelief for the strength, than you turn also ; except you were grown very dull and barren, have for the goodness, of it. And that you have those and that fancy that served you to imagine how the whole qualmish fits, which bewray the impression, (at least to frame of the universe, and the rare structure of the bodies your own notice and reflection, if you would but allow of animals, yea, and even the reasonable soul itself, might yourselves the liberty of so much converse with your be all casual productions, cannot now devise' hów, by selves,) that you will not confess, and yet cannot utterly chance, a few words (for you do not say you expect long deface. But if in this you had quite won the day, and orations) might fall out to be sense though there were no were masters of your design, were it not pretty to suppose intelligent speaker. that the common consent of mankind would be a good But would strange and wonderful effects that might surargument of the existence of a Deity, except only that it prise and amaze you do the business?
We may challenge wants your concurrence ? If it were so universal as to in. you to try your faculty, and stretch it to the uttermost; clude your vote and suffrage, it would then be a firm and and then tell us what imagination you have formed of any solid argument; (as no doubt it is, without you, a stronger thing more strange and wonderful, than the already extant in one than you can answer;) but when you have made a frame of nature, in the whole, and the several parts of it. hard shift to withdraw your assent, you have undone the Will he that hath awhile considered the composition of the Deity, and religion! Dóth this cause stand and fall with world; the exact and orderly motions of the sun, moon, you, unto which you can contribute about as much as and stars; the fabric of his own body, and the
powers of ihe fly to the triumph? Was that true before, which now his soul, expect yet a wonder, to prove to him there is a your hard-laboured dissent hath made false? But if this God? But if that be the complexion of your minds, that impression were simply universal, so as also to include it is not the greatness of any work, but the novelty and you, it matters not what men would say or object against surprisingness of it, that will convince you, it is not ra. it ; (it is to be supposed they would be in no disposition tional evidence you seek: nor is it your reason,
your to object any thing;) but what were to be said, or what idle curiosity, you would have gratified; which deserves as the case itself, objectively considered, would admit. And no more satisfaction than that fond wish, that one might though it would not (as now it doth not) admit of any come from the dead to warn men on earth, lest they should thing to be said to any purpose, yet the same thing were come into the place of torment. still to be said, that you now say. And if we should but And if such means as these that have been mentioned again unsuppose so much of the former supposition, as to should be thought necessary, I would ask, Are they ne: imagine that some few should have made their escape, and cessary to every individual person, so as that no man shall disburthened themselves of all apprehensions of God, be esteemed to have had sufficient means of conviction, would they not, with the same impudence as you now do, who hath not with his own eyes beheld some such glorious say that all religion were nothing else but enthusiastical apparition ; or himself heard some such terrible voice; or fanaticism; and that all mankind, besides themselves, been the immediate witness or subject of some prodigious were enslaved fools ?
wonderful work? Or will the once seeing, hearing, And for the mere irresistibleness of this impression; it ing them suffice? It is not necessary there should be a is true, it would take away all disposition to oppose, but frequent repetition and renewal of these amazing things, it may be presumed this is none of the rational evidence lest the impression wearing off
, there be a relapse, and a which we suppose you to mean; when you admit (if you gradual sliding into an oblivion, and unapprehensiveness do admit) that, some way or other, the existence of such of that Being's existence, whereof they had, sometime, a being might be possibly made so evident, as to induce a received a conviction. Now if such a continual iteration rational certainty thereof. For to believe such a thing to of these strange things were thought necessary, would they be true only upon a strong impulse, (how certain soever not hereby soon cease to be strange ? And then if their the thing be,) is not to assent to it upon a foregoing reason. strangeness was necessary, by that very thing, wherein Nor can any, in that case, tell why they believe it, but that their sufficiency for conviction is said to consist, they they believe it. You will not sure think any thing the should become useless. Or if by their frequent variations
(which it is possible to suppose) a perpetual amusement the place; bounds are set about the designed theatre of be still kept up in the minds of men, and they be always this great appearance: all are strictly required to observe full of consternation and wonder, doth this temper so much their due and awful distances, and abstain from more aubefriend the exercise of reason, or contribute to the sober dacious approaches and gazings; lest that terrible glory consideration of things? As if men could not be rational, break out upon them, and they perish: an irreverent or without being half mad! And indeed they might soon disrespectful look, they are told, will be mortal to them, become altogether so, by being but awhile beset with or a very touch of any part of this sacred enclosure. In objects so full of terror, as are by this supposition made the morning of the appointed day, there are thunders, and the necessary means to convince them of a Deity. And lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the hallowed mount. were this a fit means of ruling the world, of preserving The exceeding loud sound of trumpet proclaims the Lord's order among mankind? What business could then be descent. He descends in fire, the fames whereof envelop followed? Who could attend the affairs of their callings? the trembling mount, (now floored with a sapphire paveWho could either be capable of governing, or of being ment, clear as the body of heaven,) and ascend into the governed, while all men's minds should be wholly taken middle region, or, as it is expressed, into the midst or up, either in the amazed view or the suspenseful expec- heart of the heavens. The voice of words, (a loud and tation, of nought else but strange things ? To which pur- dreadful voice,) audible to all that mighty assembly, in pose much hath been of late, with so excellent reason, which were six hundred thousand men, (probably more discoursed by a noted author, that it is needless here to than a million of persons,) issues forth from amidst that say more. And the aspect and influence of this state of terrible glory, pronouncing to them that I am Jehovah thy things would be most pernicious upon religion, that should God. And thence proceeding to give them precepts so be most served thereby, and which requires the greatest plain and clear, so comprehensive and full, so unexceptionseverity and most peaceful composure of mind to the due ably just and righteous, so agreeable to the nature of man, managing the exercises of it. How little would that con- and subservient lo his good, that nothing could be more tribute to pious and devout converses with God, that worthy the great Creator, or more aptly suitable to such a should certainly keep men's minds in a continual com- sort of creatures. motion and hurry! This course, as our present condition It is very likely, indeed, that such a demonstration is, what could it do but craze men's understandings, as a would leave no spectator in doubt concerning the existence too bright and dazzling light causeth blindness, or any of God; and would puzzle the philosophy of the most over-excelling sensible object destroys the sense; so that sceptical atheist to give an account, otherwise, of the phewe should soon have cause to apply the Erpen. proverb, nomenon. And if such could devise to say any thing that "Shut the windows that the house may be light." And should seem plausible to some very easy half-witted permight learn to put a sense, not intolerable, upon those sons, that were not present, they would have a hard task passages of some mystical writers, that God is to be seen, of it to quiet the minds of those that were; or make them -in a divine cloud or darkness, as one;d and with closed believe this was nothing else but some odd conjuncture of egese as another, speaks; though what was their very sense certain fiery atoms, that, by some strange accident hapI will not pretend to tell.
pened into this occursion and conflict with one another; Besides that, by this means, there would naturally ensue or some illusion of fancy, by which so great a multitude the continual excitation of so vexatious and enthralling were all at once imposed upon; so as that they only seempassions, so servile and tormenting fears and amazements, ed to themselves to bear and see, what they heard and as could not but hold the souls of men under a constant saw not. Nor is it likely they would be very confident of and comfortless restraint from any free and ingenuous ac- the truth of their own conjecture, or be apt to venture cess to God, or conversation with him; wherein the very much upon it themselves; having been the eye and earlife of religion consists. And then, to what purpose doth witnesses of these things. the discovery and acknowledgment of the Deity serve? But is it necessary this course shall be taken to make Inasmuch as it is never to be thought that the exist- the world know there is a God ? Such an appearance, inence of God is a thing to be own, only that it may be deed, would more powerfully strike sense; but unto sober known; but that the end it serves for, is religion; a com- and considerate reason were it a greater thing than the placential and cheerful adoration of him, and application making such a world as this, and the disposing this great of ourselves with at once both dutiful and pleasant affec- variety of particular beings in it, into so exact and elegant tions towards him. That were a strange means of coming an order; and the sustaining and preserving it in the same to know that he is, that should only tend to destroy or state, through so many ages? Let the vast and unknown hinder the very end itself of that knowledge. Wherefore extent of the whole, the admirable variety, the elegant all this being considered, it is likely it would not he in- shapes, the regular motions, the excellent faculties and sisted upon as necessary to our being persuaded of God's powers of that inconceivable number of creatures contained existence, that he should so multiply strange and astonish- in it, be considered. And is there any comparison between ing things, as that every man might be a daily, amazed be that temporary, transient, occasional, and this steady, perholder and witness of them.
manent, and universal discovery of God? Nor (supposing IV. And if their frequency and constant iteration be the truth of the history)
can it be thought the design of acknowledged not necessary, but shall indeed be judged this appearance to these Hebrews was to convince them of wholly inconvenient, more rare discoveries of him, in the the existence of a Deity, to be worshipped; when both very ways we have been speaking of, have not been want, they had so convincing evidence thereof many ways before; ing. What would we think of such an appearance of God and the other nations, that which they left, and those as that was upon mount Sinai, when he came down (or whither they went, were not without their religion and caused a sensible glory to descend) in the sight of all that worship, such as it was : but to engage them, by so magreat people; wherein the several things concurred that jestic a representation thereof, to a more exact observance were above mentioned? Let us but suppose such an ap- of his will, now made known. Though, had there been pearance, in all the concurrent circumstances of it, as that any doubt of the former, (as we can hardly suppose they is said to have been. That is we will suppose an equally could before have more doubted of the being of a God, great assembly or multitude of people is gathered together, than that there were men on earth,) this might collaterally, and solemn forewarning is given and proclaimed among and besides its chief intention, be a means to confirm them them, by appointed heralds or officers of state, that, on such concerning that also: but that it was necessary for that a prefixed day, now very nigh at hand, the divine majesty end, we have no pretence to imagine. The hike may be and glory (even his glory set in majesty) will visibly ap- said, concerning other miracles heretofore wrought, that the pear, and show itself to them. They are most severely intent of them was to justify the divine authority of him enjoined to prepare themselves, and be in readiness against who wrought them, to prove him sent by God, and so that day. Great care is taken to sanctify the people, and countenance the doctrine or message delivered by him.
Now were not that a most improper course, and unsuitable to the na the reality or true significancy of such portents, yet aptly tends to prevent or tune of man, that should rather land to destroy bis reason or judgment, than correct the ill use of them. convince it?
C D. Areop. I. de myster. Theol. c. 1. 4 Τις ο θειος γνoφος. b De Spencer, of Prodigies. A discourse, which, though it disproves not
. e Proel. in Ρlat. Theol. μυσαντας ενεδρυεσθαι τη αγνωςωι και κρυφιωι των οντων εναδι.
Not that they tended (otherwise than on the by) to prove | duct through the wilderness, and settlement in Canaan; God's existence: much less, was this so amazing an ap- their constitution and form of polity, known for many ages pearance needful, or intended for that end; and least of to have been a theocracy; their usual ways of consulting all, was it necessary that this should be God's ordinary God, upon all more important occasions :-whosoever, i way of making it known to men that he doth exist : so as say, shall soberly consider these things, (and many more that for this purpose he should often repeat so terrible might easily occur to such as would think fit to let their representations of himself. And how inconvenient it were thoughts dwell awhile upon this subject,) will not only, to mortal men, as well as unnecessary, the astonishment from some of them, think it highly improbable, but from wherewith it possessed that people, is an evidence; and others of them, plainly impossible, that the history of this their passionate affrighted wish thereupon, “Let noi God appearance should have been a contrived piece of falsehood. any more speak to us, lest we die." They apprehended Yea, and though, as was said, the view of such a thing it impossible for them to outlive such another sight! with one's own eyes would make a more powerful impres
And if that so amazing an appearance of the Divine sion upon our fancy, or imagination, yet, if we speak of Majesty (sometime afforded) were not necessary, but some rational evidence (which is quite another thing) of the truth way, on the by, useful, for the confirming that people in of a matter of fact that were of this astonishing nature, I the persuasion of God's existence, why may it not be should think it were as much (at least if I were credibly useful also, for the same purpose even now, to us? Is it told that so many hundred thousand persons saw it at that we think that can be less true now, which was so once) as if I had been the single unaccompanied spectator gloriously evident to be true four thousand years ago ? Or of it myself. Not to say that it were apparently, in some is it that we can disbelieve or doubt the truth of the his- respect, much greater; could we but obtain of ourselves tory? What should be the ground or pretence of doubt ? to distinguish between the pleasing of our curiosity, and If it were a fiction, it is manifest it was feigned by some the satisfyng of our reason. So that, upon the whole, I person that had the use of his understanding, and was not see not why it may not be concluded, with the greatest beside himself, as the coherence and contexture of parts confidence, that both the (supposed) existence of a Deity doth plainly show. But would any man not beside him- is possible to be certainly known to men on earth, in self, designing to gain credit to a forged report of a matter some way that is suitable to their present state; that of fact, ever say there were six hundred thousand persons there are no means fitter to be ordinary, than those we present at the doing of it? Would it not rather have been already have, and that more extraordinary, additional conpretended done in a corner? Or is it imaginable it should firmations are partly, therefore, not necessary, and partly never have met with contradiction? That none of the pre- not wanting. tended bystanders should disclaim the avouchment of it, V. Again, it may be further demanded, (as that which and say they knew of no such matter ? Especially if it be may both immediately serve our main purpose, and may considered that the laws said to be given at that time, also show the reasonableness of what was last said,) Is it chiefly those which were reported to have been written in sufficiently evident to such subjects of some great prince the two tables, were not so favourable to vicious inclina- as live remote from the royal residence, that there is such tions, nor that people so strict and scrupulous observers a one now ruling over them? of them; but that they would have been glad to have had To say No, is to raze the foundation of civil government, any thing to pretend, against the authority of the legisla- and reduce it wholly to domestical, by such a ruler as may ture, if the case could have admitted it. When they dis- ever be in present view. Which yet is upon such terms covered, in that and succeeding time, so violently prone never possible to be preserved also. It is plain many do and unretractable a propension to idolatry and other firmly enough believe that there is a king reigning over wickednesses, directly against the very letter of that law, them, who not only never saw the king, but never heard how welcome and covetable a plea had it been, in their any distinct account of the splendour of his court, the frequent, and, sometimes, almost universal apostacies, pomp of his attendance, or, it may be, never saw the man could they have had such a thing to pretend, that the law that had seen the king. And is not all dutiful and loyal itself thai curbed them was a cheat! But we always obedience wont to be challenged and paid as such, as well find, that though they laboured, in some of their degene- as his other subjects? Or would it be thought a reasonracies, and when they were lapsed into a more corrupted able excuse of disloyalty, that any such persons should state, to render it more easy to themselves by favour- say they had never seen the king, or his court? Or a able glosses and interpretations; yet, even in the most reasonable demand, as the condition of required subjection, corrupt, they never went about to deny or implead ils that the court be kept, sometime, in their village, that they divine original, whereof they were ever so religious as- might have the opportunity of beholding at least some of sertors, as no people under heaven could be more; and the insignia of regality, or more splendid appearances of the awful apprehension whereof prevailed so far with them, that majesty, which claims subjection from them? Much as that care was taken (as is notoriously known) by those more would it be deemed unreasonable and insolent, that appointed to that charge, that the very letters should be every subject should expect to see the face of the prince numbered of the sacred writings, lest there should happen every day, otherwise they will not obey, nor believe there any the minutest alteration in them. Much more might is any such person. Whereas it hath been judged rather be said, if it were needful, for the evincing the truth of more expedient and serviceable to the continuing the venethis particular piece of history: and it's little to be doubted ration of majesty, (and in a monarchy, of no mean reputabut any man who, with sober and impartial reason, con- tion for wisdom and greatness,) that the prince did very siders the circumstances relating to it; the easily evidence- rarely offer himself to the view of the people. Surely more able antiquity of the records whereof this a part; the ordinary and remote discoveries of an existing prince and certain nearness of the time of writing them, to the time ruler over them, (the effects of his power, and the influences when this thing is said to have been done; the great re- of his government,) will be reckoned sufficient, even as to putation of the writer even among pagans; the great mul- many parts of his dominions that possibly through many titude of the alleged witnesses and spectators; the no- succeeding generations never had ather. And yet how contradiction ever heard of; the universal consent and unspeakably less sensible, less immediate, less constant, suffrage of that nation through all times to this day, even less necessary, less numerous, are the effects and instances when their practice hath been most contrary to the laws of regal human power and wisdom, than of the divine; then given; the securely confident and unsuspicious refer- which latter we behold which way, soever we look, and ence of later pieces of sacred Scripture thereto, (even some feel in every thing we touch, or have any sense of, and parts of the New Testament,) as a most known and un- may reflect upon in our very senses themselves, and in all doubted thing; the long series and tract of time through the parts and powers that belong to us; and so certainly, which that people are said to have had extraordinary and that if we would allow ourselves the liberty of serious sensible indications of the divine presence; (which, if it thoughts, we might soon find it were utterly impossible aad been false, could not, in so long a time, but have been such effects should ever have been without that only evicted of falsehood ;) their miraculous and wonderful cause: that without its influence, it had never been pose eduction out of Egypt, not denied by any, and more ob- sible that we could hear, or see, or speak, or think, or live, scurely acknowledged by some heathen writers; their con or be any thing, nor that any other thing could ever havo