« AnteriorContinuar »
possible to be understood. Such gross misrepresentations as these, in leaving out one part of a sentence, to make the rest nonsense, can very hardly proceed but from want of honesty.
Lastly, (page 41,) he says, that in my Sermons there is not one argument offered to prove, against Spinoza, that God is a spirit. I persuaded myself, that the proving God to be a being absolutely distinct from the material world, self-existent, intelligent, free, allpowerful, wise, and good, had been proving him to be a spirit. But it seems no proof is of any force with this author, if it be not agreeable to the Cartesian philosophy, in which alone he seems to have any knowledge. To this, therefore, I am not obliged to troue ble either myself or the reader with giving any further anawer,
THE UNCHANGEABLE OBLIGATIONS OF
TRUTH AND CERTAINTY OF THE
Isa. v. 20. Wo unto them that call evil good, aud good evil ; that put darkness for light, and light for darkpess; that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.
Rom. i. 22. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. 1 Cor. ii. 10. But God hath revealed them unto us by his spirit.
Having, in a former discourse, endeavoured to lay The introfirmly the first foundations of religion, in the certain-duction. ty of the existence and of the attributes of God, by proving, severally and distinctly :
That something must needs have existed from eternity, and how great soever the difficulties are, which perplex the conceptions and apprehensions we attempt to frame of an eternal duration, yet they neither ought nor can raise in any man's mind any doubt or scruple concerning the truth of the assertion itself that something has really been eternal :
That there must have existed from eternity some one unchangeable and independent being, because, to suppose an eternal succession of merely dependent
INTRO. beings, proceeding one from another in an endless
progression, without any original independent cause at all, is supposing things that have in their own nature no necessity of existing, to be from eternity caused or produced by nothing; which is the very same absurdity and express contradiction as to suppose them produced by nothing at any determinate time :
That that unchangeable and independent being, which has existed froin eternity, without any external cause of its existence, must be self-existent, that is, necessarily-existing :
That it must of necessity be infinite or everywhere present; a being most simple, uniform, invariable, indivisible, incorruptible, and infinitely removed from all such imperfections as are the known qualities and inseparable properties of the material world:
That it must of necessity be but one; because, to suppose two, or more, different self-existent independent principles may be reduced to a direct contradiction :
That it must necessarily be an intelligent being:
That it must be a free and voluntary, not a necessary agent :
That this being must of necessity have infinite power, and that in this attribute is included, particularly, a possibility of creating or producing things, and also a possibility of communicating to creatures the power of beginning motion, and a possibility of induing them with liberty or freedom of will ; which freedom of will is not inconsistent with any of the divine attributes :
That he must of necessity be infinitely wise :
And lastly, that he must necessarily be a being of infinite goodness, justice, and truth, and all other moral perfections, such as become the supreme governor and judge of the world.
It remains now, in order to complete my design of proving and establishing the truth and excellency of the whole superstructure of our most holy religion,
that I proceed, upon this foundation of the certainty intro. of the being and attributes of God, to demonstrate in the next place the unaltérable obligations of natural religion, and the certainty of divine revelation, in opposition to the vain arguings of certain vicious and profane men, who, merely upon account of their incredulity, would be thought to be strict adherers to reason, and sincere and diligent inquirers into truth; when, indeed, on the contrary, there is but too much cause to fear that they are not at all sincerely and really desirous to be satisfied in the true state of things, but only seek, under the pretence and cover of infidelity, to excuse their vices and debaucheries which they are so strongly inslaved to that they can. not prevail with themselves upon any account to forsake them: And yet à rational submitting to such truths, as just évidence and unanswerable reason would induce them to believe, must necessarily make them uneasy under those vices, and self condemned in the practice of them. It remains therefore, (I say) in order to finish the design I proposed to myself, of es tablishing the truth and excellency of our holy réligion, in opposition to all such vain pretenders to reason as these, that I proceed at this time, by à continuation of the same method of arguing, by which I before demonstrated the being and attributes of God, to prove distinctly the following propositions :
Ī. That the same necessary and eternal different relations that different things bear one to another, and the same consequent fitness or unfitness of the application of different things or different relations one to another, with regard to which the will of God always and necessarily does determine itself to choose to act only what is agreeable to justice, equity, goodness, and truth, in order to the welfare of the whole universe, ought likewise constantly to determine the wills of all subordinate rational beings, to govern all their actions by the same rules, for the good of the public in their respective stations : That is, these eternal and necessary differences of things make it fit and reasonable for crea
INTRO. tures so to act : they cause it to be their duty, or lay
an obligation upon them, so to do, even separate from the consideration of these rules being the positive will or command of God, and also antecedent to any respect or regard, expectation or apprehension, of any particular private and personal advantage or disad. vantage, reward or punishment, either present or future, annexed, either by natural consequence, or by positive appointments, to the practising or neglecting those rules.
II. That though these eternal moral obligations are, indeed, of themselves incumbent on all rational beings, even antecedent to the consideration of their being the positive will and command of God, yet that which most strongly confirms, and in practice most effectually and indispensably enforces them upon us, is this, that both from the nature of things, and the perfections of God, and from several other collateral considerations, it appears, that as God is himself necessarily just and good in the exercise of his infinite power in the government of the whole world, so he cannot but likewise positively require that all his rational creatures should in their proportion be so too, in the exercise of each of their powers in their respective spheres : That is, as these eternal moral obligations are really in perpetual force merely from their own nature and the abstract reason of things, so also they are moreover the express and unalterable will, command, and law of God to his creatures, which he cannot but expect should, in obedience to his supreme authority, as well as in compliance with the natural reason of things, be regularly and constantly observed through the whole creation.
III. That, therefore, though these eternal moral obligations are also incumbent, indeed, on all rational creatures, antecedent to any respect of particular reward or punishment, yet they must certainly and necessarily be attended with rewards and punishments; because the same reasons which prove God himself to be necessarily just and good, and the rules of jus