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Explanations, as they are willing to ask and trust in all other Cases, and much adinirable Instruction besides : which if they do but respect and observe as they ought; they may be content to leave for the Use of others, what a little Modesty will thew them is above their own Reach.
But that every Person may be enabled the better to distinguish between the necessary Doctrines and the rest : those, which either Christ or his Apoftles expressly taught to be of the former Sort, or the Nature of the Thing plainly shews to be such, have from the earliest Times been collected together : and the Profession of them hath been particularly required of all Persons baptized, These Collections or Summaries are in Scripture called, The Form of found Words *, The Words of Faith', The Principles of the Doctrine of Chrift*: but in the present Language of Christians, The Creed, that is, the Belief.
The ancient Church had many such Creeds : fome longer, some shorter; differing in Expression, but agreeing in Method and Sense: of which that called the Apostles Creed was And it deserves that Name, not so much from any Certainty that the Apostles drew it up, as because it contains the Apoftolical Doctrines; and was used by a Church, which, before it corrupted itself, was justly confidered as one of the chief Apoftolical Foundations, I mean the Roman.
But neither this, nor any other Creed, hath Authority of its own, equal to Scripture ; but derives its principal Authority from being founded on Scripture. Nor is it in the Power of any Man, or Number of Men, either to leflen or increase the fundamental Articles of the Christian Faith; which yet the Church of Rime, not content with this its primitive Creed, hath profanely attempted: adding twelve Articles more, founded on its own, that is, on no Authority, to the ancient twelve, which stand on the Authority of God's Word. But * 2 Tim. i. 13, ! Tim. iv. 6.
w Heb. vi, 1.
our Church hath wisely refused to go a Step beyond the original Form; fince all necessary Truths are briefly comprehended in it, as will appear when the several Parts of it come to be expounded, which it is the Duty of every one of us firnrly to believe, and openly to profess. For with the Heart Man believeth unto Righteo ousness, and with the Mouth Confeffion is made unta Salvation.
L E C T URE
C R E E
Article I. I believe in God, the Father, &c.
THE Foundation of all Religion is Faith in God:
the Persuasion, that there doth, ever did, and ever will exist, one Being of unbounded Power and Knowledge, perfect Juftice, Truth and Goodness, the Creator and Preserver, the Sovereign Lord and Ruler of all Things. With this Article therefore our Creed begins. And as all the rest are built upon it, so the Truth and Certainty of it is plain to every Man, when duly proposed to his Consideration, how unlikely soever fome Men would have been to discover it of themselves.
We know,'beyond Possibility of Doubt, that we now are: and yet the oldest of us, but a few Years ago, was not. How then came we to be? Whence had we our Beginning? From our Parents, perhaps we may think. But did our Parents know, or do we know in the least, how to form such a Mind as that of Man, with all its Faculties ; or such a Body as that of Man, with all its Parts and Members; or even the very smallest of them?
No more, than a Tree knows how to make the Seed that grows into a like Tree: no more, than
any common Instrument knows how to do the Work, which is done by its Means. Our Parents were only Instruments in the Hands of some higher Power : and to speak properly, That it is which made us, and not we ourselves,
one another. And the fame is the Case of every Animal and every Plant upon the face of the Earth.
But could our Parents be the Cause of our Being; yet still the first human Pair must have had some different Cause of theirs. Will it then be said, that there was no first? But we cannot conceive this to be possible. And it certainly is not true. For we have undoubted Accounts, in ancient Histories, of the Time when Men were but few in the World, and inhabited but a small Part of it; and therefore were near their Beginning : Accounts of the Times, when almost all Arts and Sciences were invented; which Mankind would not have been long in Being, much less from Eternity, without finding out. And upon the whole, there is strong Evidence, that the present Frame of Things is not more than about six thousand Years old: and that none of us, here present, is 150 Generations distant from our first Parent.
If it be said, that universal Deluges may perhaps have destroyed almoft all the Race of Men, and so made that seem a new Beginning, which was not: we answer, that one such Deluge we own: but that no such can pos, fibly happen according to the common Course of Nature, as learned Persons have abundantly shewn. sequently this proves a higher Power, instead of destroying the Proof of it.
But without having Recourse to History, it is evident from the very Form and Appearance of this Earth, that it cannot have been from Eternity. If it had, to mention nothing else, the Hills must all have been
washed down by showers innumerable Ages ago, to a Level with the Plains b. And indeed they, who have thought of these Matters, well know and confess, that the present Conftitution of the Heavens and Earth both must have had a Beginning, and must of itself come to an End.
To say therefore, that Things are by Nature what they are, is to say a plain Falsehood, if we mean, that they are fo by any Neceflity in their own Nature. For then they must always have been such as we see them ; and not the least Part of any Thing could possibly have been at all different from what it is : which is the wildest Imagination in the World. The only Nature therefore, which we and the whole Universe have, was. freely given us by a superior Being. And the Regularity, in which Things go on, is no more a Proof, that they were of themselves from everlasting, or thall continue as they are to everlasting, than the regular Motion of a Clock is a Proof, that no Artist made it, or keeps it in Order, or shall take it to Pieces, On the contrary, the more complete this Regularity is, and the longer it lafts, the more fully it thews the Power of its Author; and not only that, but his Understanding and Wisdom also.
Indeed what hath no Understanding, hath, in Strictness of Speech, no. Power ; cannot act, but only be acted upon : as all mere Matter is ; which never moves, but as it is moved. But were this doubtful: look around you, and see what Marks of Understanding and Wisdom appear. Turn your Eyes upon yourselves : How fearfully and wonderfully are we made " ! Of what an incredible Number and Variety of Parts, (a vastly greater than perhaps any of us suspect,) are our Bodies
• This Argument is produced from Tbeophrastus, in Philo megi żolagcias récus, p. 510; and two Answers to it attempted, p. 513: that Mountains may lose Parts, and gain them again, as Trees do their Leaves ; or are supported by the internal Fire, which threw them up. The first is an absurd Affertion : the latter a groundless and false one. c Psal. cxxxix. 14.
composed ! How were thefe formed and put together at firit? What hath caused, and what hath limited their Growth fince? How hath proper and suitable Nouritment been distributed to them all? How hath the perpetual Motion of our Blood, and of our Breath, sleeping and waking, both of them so necessary to Life, been carried on? How is it, that we move every Joint belonging to us, instantly, and with such "Exactness, without knowing even which way we go about it? Our Speech, our Hearing, our Sight, every one of our Senfes, what amazing Contrivance is there in them ; and the more amazing, the more strictly we examine them! In the Works of Men, it is often mere Igaorance, that occasions our Admiration : but in these, the minuter our Inspection and the deeper our Search is, the greater Abundance we always find of accurate Adjustments and unimaginable Precautions.
But then, besides ourselves, the Earth is replenished with numberless other Animals. Those, of which we commonly take Notice, are an extremely small Part of the whole. Different Countries produce very different Sorts. How many, still more different, the great Waters conceal from us, we cannot even guess.
Multitudes remain, so little as almost to escape our Sight, with the best Asistance that we are able to give it; and probably Multitudes more, which escape it entirely. But all that we can observe, we find, down to the very least, contrived with the same inconceivable Art, strangely diverfified, yet uniform at the same Time, and perfectly fitted by moft surprizing Instincts for their several Ways of living, fo entirely different each from the other.
What Wisdom and Power must it be then, which hath peopled the World in this Manner, and made such Provision for the Support of all its Inhabitants: chiefly by the Means of innumerable Kinds of Herbs and Vegetables, just as wonderful in their Make, as the Animals themselves: that hath intermixed the dry Land so fitly with Springs, and Rivers, and Lakes, and the