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and it receives a vast accession of strength from this, that we ART, plainly see matter has not motion in or of itself: every part I. of it is at quiet till it is put in motion that is not natural to it; for many parts of matter fall into a state of rest and quiet; so that motion must be put in them by some impulse or other. Matter, after it has passed through the highest refinings and rectifyings possible, becomes only more capable of motion than it was before; but still it is a passive principle, and must be put in motion by some other being. This has appeared so necessary even to those who have tried their utmost force to make God as little needful as possible in the structure of the universe, that they have yet been forced to own, that there must have been once a vast motion given to matter by the Supreme Mind.
A third argument for the being of a God is, that, upon some great occasions, and before a vast number of witnesses, some persons have wrought miracles: that is, they have put nature out of its course, by some words or signs, that of themselves could not produce those extraordinary effects: and therefore such persons were assisted by a power superior to the course of nature; and by consequence there is such a Being, and that is God. To this the atheists do first say, that we do not know the secret virtues that are in nature: the loadstone and opium produce wonderful effects: therefore, unless we knew the whole extent of nature, we cannot define what is supernatural and miraculous, and what is not so. But, though we cannot tell how far nature may go, yet of some things we may, without hesitation, say, they are beyond natural powers. Such were the wonders that Moses wrought in Egypt and in the wilderness, by the speaking a few words, or the stretching out of a rod. We are sure these could not by any natural efficiency produce those wonders. And the like is to be said of the miracles of Christ, particularly of his raising the dead to life again, and of his own resurrection. These we are sure did not arise out of natural causes. The next thing atheists say to this, is, to dispute the truth of the facts : but of that I shall treat in another place, when the authority of revealed religion comes to be proved from those facts. All that is necessary to be added here, is, that if facts, that are plainly supernatural, are proved to have been really done, then here is another clear and full argument, to prove a Being superior to nature, that can dispose of it at pleasure: and that Being must either be God, or some other invisible being that has a strength superior to the settled course of nature. And if invisible beings, superior to nature, whether good or bad, are once acknowledged, a great step is made to the proof of the Supreme Being.
There is another famed argument taken from the idea of God; which is laid thus: that, because one frames a notion of infinite perfection, therefore there must be such a Being, from
ART. whom that notion is conveyed to us. This argument is also
managed by other methods, to give us a demonstration of the being of a God. I am unwilling to say any thing to derogate from any argument that is brought to prove this conclusion; but, when he, who insists on this, lays all other arguments aside, or at least slights them as not strong enough to prove the point, this naturally gives jealousy, when all those reasons, that had for so many ages been considered as solid proofs, are neglected, as if this only could amount to a demonstration. But, besides, this is an argument that cannot be offered by any to another person, for his conviction ; since, if he denies that he has any such idea, he is without the reach of the argument. And if a man will say that any such idea, which he may raise in himself, is only an aggregate that he makes of all those perfections, of which he can form a thought, which he lays together, separating from them every imperfection that he observes to be often mixed with some of those perfections: if, I say, a man will affirm this, I do not see that the inference from any such thought that he has formed within himself, can have any great force to persuade him that there is any such Being. Upon the whole, it seems to be fully proved, that there is a Being that is superior to matter, and that gave both being and order to it, and to all other things. This may serve to prove the being of a God. It is fit in the next place to consider, with all humble modesty, what thoughts we can, or ought to have of the Deity.
That Supreme Being must have its essence of itself necessarily and eternally; for it is impossible that any thing can give itself being; so it must be eternal. And, though eternity in a succession of determinate durations was proved to be impossible, yet it is certain that something must be eternal; either matter, or a Being superior to it, that has not a duration defined by succession, but is a simple essence, and eternally was, is, and shall be, the same. There is nothing contradictory to itself in this notion: it is indeed above our capacity to form a clear thought of it; but it is plain it must be so, and that this is only a defect in our nature and capacity, that we cannot distinctly apprehend that which is so far above us. Such a Being must have also necessary existence in its notion; for whatsoever is infinitely perfect must necessarily exist; since we plainly perceive that necessary existence is a perfection, and that contingent existence is an imperfection, which supposes a being that is produced by another, and that depends upon it: and, as this superior Being did exist from all eternity, so it is impossible, it should cease to be; since nothing that once has actually a being can ever cease to be, but by an act of a superior Being annihilating it. But there being nothing superior to the Deity, it is impossible that it should ever cease to be: what was self-existent from all eternity, must also be so to all eternity; and it is as im
possible that a simple essence can annihilate itself, as that it ART. can make itself.
So much concerning the first and capital article of all religion, the existence and being of a God; which ought not to be proved by any authorities from scripture, unless from the recitals that are given in it concerning miracles, as was already hinted at. But as to the authority of such passages in scripture, which affirm that there is a God, it is to be considered, that before we can be bound to submit to them, we must believe three propositions antecedent to that; 1. That there is a God. 2. That all his words are true. 3. That these are his words. What, therefore, must be believed before we acknowledge the scriptures cannot be proved out of them. It is then a strange assertion, to say, that the being of a God cannot be proved by the light of nature, but must be proved by the scriptures; since our being assured that there is a God is the first principle upon which the authority of the scriptures depends.
The second proposition in the Article is, That there is but one God. As to this, the common argument, by which it is proved, is the order of the world; from whence it is inferred, that there cannot be more gods than one, since, where there are more than one, there must happen diversity and confusion. This is by some thought to be no good reason; for if there are more gods, that is, more beings infinitely perfect, they will always think the same thing, and be knit together with an entire love. It is true, in things of a moral nature, this must so happen: for beings infinitely perfect must ever agree. But in physical things, capable of no morality, as in creating the world sooner or later, and the different systems of beings, with a thousand other things that have no moral goodness in them, different beings infinitely perfect might have different thoughts. So this argument seems still of great force to prove the unity of the Deity. The other argument from reason, to prove the unity of God, is from the notion of a Being infinitely perfect. For a superiority over all other beings comes so naturally into the idea of infinite perfection, that we cannot separate it from it. A Being therefore, that has not all other beings inferior and subordinate to it, cannot be infinitely perfect; whence it is evident, that there is but one God. But, besides all this, the unity of God seems to be so frequently and so plainly asserted in the scripture, that we see it was the chief design of the whole Old Testament, both of Moses and the prophets, to establish it, in opposition to the false opinions of the heathen concerning a diversity of gods. This is often repeated in the most solemn words, as, ** Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Deul.vi. 4.
• 758 710139758 7107 bows you Hear, Israel, Jehovah, our God, is one Jehovah.' On this passage the Jews lay great stress; and it is one
ART. God. It is the first of the Ten Commandments, "Thou
1. shalt have no other gods but me.' And all things in heaven Isa. xliv. 6. and earth are often said to be made by this one God. Nega
tive words are also often used, “There is none other God but one: besides me there is none else, and I know no other':*
the going after other gods is reckoned the highest and the John xvii. most unpardonable act of idolatry. The New Testament goes
on in the same strain. Christ speaks of the only true God, I Cor. viii.
lat.iv.1.0. and that he alone ought to be worshipped and served; all the 5,6.** apostles do frequently affirm the same thing: they make the
believing of one God, in opposition to the many Gods of the
heathens, the chief article of the Christian religion; and they Eph. iv. 4, lay down this as the chief ground of our obligation to mutual 5,6.
love and union among ourselves, That 'there is one God, one Lord, one faith, one baptism. Now, since we are sure that there is but one Messias, and one doctrine delivered by him, it will clearly follow that there must be but one God.
So the unity of the Divine Essence is clearly proved both from the order and government of the world, from the idea of infinite perfection, and from those express declarations that are made concerning it in the scriptures; which last is a full proof to all such as own and submit to them.
The third head in this Article is that which is negatively expressed, that God is without body, parts, or passions. In general, all these are so plainly contrary to the ideas of infinite perfection, and they appear so evidently to be imperfections, that this part of the Article will need little explanation. We do plainly perceive that our bodies are clogs to our minds; and all the use, that even the purest sort of body, in an estate conceived to be glorified, can be of to a mind, is to be an instrument of local motion, or to be a repository of ideas for memory and imagination: but God, who is every where, and is one pure and simple act, can have no such use for a body. A mind dwelling in a body is in many respects superior to it; yet in some respects is under it. We, who feel how an act of our mind can so direct the motions of our body that a thought sets our limbs and joints a going, can, from thence, conceive how that the whole extent of matter should receive such motions as the acts of the Supreme Mind give it; but yet not as a body united to it, or that the Deity either needs such a body, or can receive any trouble from it. Thus far the apprehension of the thing is very plainly made
of the four passages which they write on their phylacteries. On the word Elohim, Simeon Ben Joachi says, “Come and see the mystery of the word Elohim: there are three degrees, and each degree is by itself alone, and yet they are all one, and joined together in one, and are not divided from each other.'- Bagster's Comprehensive Bible.--Note on the passage. - [Ed.]
The passage stands thus in Isa. xliv, 6. 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.' These titles are in the New Testament given to the Lord Jesus Christ, Rev. i. 8, 11-13, 17, 18, and xxi. 12, 13, 16.-[Ep.]
out to us. Our thoughts put some parts of our body in a ART. present motion, when the organization is regular, and all the 1. parts are exact, and when there is no obstruction in those vessels or passages, through which that heat and those spirits, do pass, that cause the motion. We do in this perceive, that a thought does command matter; but our minds are limited to our bodies, and these do not obey them, but as they are in an exact disposition and a fitness to be so moved. Now these are plain imperfections; but, removing them from God, we can from thence apprehend that all the matter in the universe may be so entirely subject to the Divine Mind, that it shall move and be whatsoever and wheresoever he will have it to be. This is that which all men do agree in.
But many of the philosophers thought that matter, though it was moved and moulded by God at his pleasure, yet was not made by him, but was self-existent, and was a passive principle, but coexistent to the Deity, which they thought was the active principle : from whence some have thought, that the belief of two gods, one good and another bad, did spring: though others imagine that the belief of a bad god did arise from the corruption of that tradition concerning fallen angels, as was before suggested. The philosophers could not apprehend that things could be made out of nothing, and therefore they believed that matter was coeternal with God. But it is as hard to apprehend how a mind, by its thought, should give motion to matter, as how it should give it being. A being not made by God is not so easily conceivable to be under the acts of his mind, as that which is made by him. This conceit plainly destroys infinite perfection, which cannot be in God, if all beings are not from him, and under his authority; besides that, successive duration has been already proved inconsistent with eternity. This opinion of the world's being a body to God, as the mind that dwells in it, and actuates it, is the foundation of atheism: for if it be once thought that God can do nothing without such a body, then, as this destroys the idea of infinite perfection, so it makes way to this conceit, that since matter is visible, and God invisible, there is no other God, but the vast extent of the universe. It is true, God has often shewed himself in visible appearances; but that was only his putting a special quantity of matter into such motions, as should give a great and astonishing idea of his nature, from that appearance: which was both the effect of his power, and the symbol of his presence. And thus what glorious representations soever were made either on mount Sinai, or in the pillar of the cloud, and cloud of glory, those were no indications of God's having a body; but were only manifestations, suited to beget such thoughts in the minds of men, that dwelt in bodies, as might lay the principles and foundations of religion deep in them. The language of the scriptures speaks to
tion, wher his authopiroved in body to God of atheis