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without any medicinal applications, restoring limbs to persons maimed, fight to the blind, and raising the dead to life; (a thing which Plinyh deems impossible to God himself:) these and such like things all men will confess do surpass the power of any natural agent to effect, and are performable only by a cause whose power exceeds our comprehension. Now that such effects have been performed, we cannot deny, without belying the most credible records of history that are extant; without accusing all ages, not only of extreme folly and weak credulity, but of notorious forgery and imposture; without derogating from the common credit of mankind, and rendering all testimony, that can be yielded to matter of fact, ineffectual and insignificant; Vetus opinio eft (faith Tully concerningDe Divin. prediction of future events) jam risque ah heroicis du£iamit' temporibus, eaque et populi Botnani, et omnium gentium firmata confenfu, verjari quandam inter homines divina- De Nat. ii. tionem, quam Grœci potv1ix.*iv appellant, id eft prœfentio?iem,p' b4' et Jcientiam rerum futurarum. There is an ancient opinion until now drawn even from the heroical times, (that is, from utmost antiquity,) that there is among men a certain divination, which the Greeks call prophecy, (or inspiration,) that is, a presention and knowledge of future things'; of which even the heathen story doth afford many instances, but the holy Scriptures most evident and eminent ones: such as that to Abraham concerning his chil-Gen.xv.ia. dren's sojourning and being afflicted four hundred years in Egypt; of the prophet (some hundred years before) 1 Kingsxiii. concerning Josias; of Isaiah concerning Cyrus; of Jere- *■ niiah concerning the duration of the captivity; of Daniel and xlv. concerning the revolutions of empire in the world, wherein j"'",^'2' the achievements of Alexander and his successors are so expressly described: and for miraculous works, although all nations have had so many of them performed among them, as to beget a common opinion that God did frequently interpose, so as to alter the course of nature, yet the holy Scriptures do most fully testify concerning them in great number, performed for the confirmation of divine truth and discovery of God's will to men, for the relief and encouragement of good, the discouragement and chastisement of bad men; which are the proper causes in all reason why they mould be performed: and why that testimony mould not be received, there can no good reason be assigned; why it should, there is very great reason; upon which I did formerly touch, and cannot now stand Heb. i. to enlarge thereupon: and indeed God's patefaction of himself to mankind, (his speaking to the fathers in many ways, and lastly to all the world by his Son, sent on purpose from heaven to reveal his designs of mercy and favour-to mankind,) accompanied with so many prodigious miracles, and so many glorious circumstances of providence, visible to all the world, and so accommodated, as in the first place to beget this belief in us, is an argument that cannot but in all honest and well-disposed minds obtain effect. To this head belong those opinions and testimonies of mankind concerning apparitions, of which the ancient world (their poets and historians) spake so much, all which probably could not be devised without ground; Presignifi- concerning the power of enchantment, to which some indreams/ visible power must cooperate; concerning conjuration, witchery, all intercourse and confederacy with bad spirits; which he that supposes to be all mere delusion must somewhat over-rudely and immodestly suspect the world of exceeding vanity and credulity, many worthy historians of inconfiderateness, &c. most law-makers of great rashness Vid. Grot, and folly, most judicatories of indiscretion or cruelty, and de Vent. too great a number of witnesses of extreme malice or Tert.deAn.madness; the truth and reality of which things being 46' admitted, inferring the existence of invisible powers,
I> Nc Deum quidem posse omnia: namque nee fibi potest mortem *>•
consciscere quod homini dedit optimum in tantis vitæ peenis; nee mortalcs æternitate donare, aut revocare defunctos. Lib. ii. c. J.
■ That the prediction of future events did belong only to the supreme God, even the heathens seemed to know and acknowledge. The wise poet, Æn. 3. Accipite ergo animis, atque hæc mea figite dicta, Quid Phœbo Pater omnipoten», mihi Phœbus Apollo Prædixit, vobis Furiarum ego maxima pando. Sirv. Notandum Apollinem quæ dicit a Jove cognofcere.
(though inferior ones,) doth by consequence infer (at least confer much to) the belief of the divine existence, removing the chief obstacles of incredulity. But I cannot farther insist upon this point.
4. The last argument I mentioned was divine Provi- Aristotle de dence: which being of two sorts, (general, in the govern- Gen"' ment of mankind; particular, in God's dealing with each single person,) although to him that will carefully attend and reflect upon it, (that, to use the Psalmist and the Prophet's language, will regard the work of the Lord, andlh. v. 19. consider the operation of his hands,) even the general provi- •XXT1"• dence doth afford no small evidences of his existence; (he that sliall observe the strange detections of mischief, both that which is designed, and that which hath been committed; the restraints, disappointments, and exemplary punishments of oppression and injustice, and all wickedness, (when it grows outrageous and exorbitant;) the supports, encouragements, and seasonable vindications (often by unexpected means) of innocence and goodness; the maintenance of such rules and orders in the world, that notwithstanding the irregularity and violence of men's passions, they commonly shift to live tolerably in peace and safety; the so many poor, weak, and helpless people (among so many crafty, malicious, and greedy ones) being competently provided for; the reparations of good manners and piety being decayed and overborne by power and ill custom; these, I fay, and other such occurrences in the world, he that shall consider wisely, may discern the hand of a wise and good Providence watching over human affairs;) but yet seeing commonly the reasons of God's proceedings with men here are various, mysterious, and secret; not to be distinctly apprehended by us, (who, for example, can certainly and easily distinguish between God's merci- vid. Gr. de ful patience toward bad men, and his gracious recom-Ver,63>*cpensing the good; between his just vengeance of one, and his paternal correction of the other; between his reclaiming one from vice, by either adverse or prosperous accidents, and his exercising the other's virtue by the like;) and because God's governance hath not its complete issue here, (this being not the only nor the chief place of re-;
This is a ward or punishment,) therefore we cannot now with so
where God c^ear evidence demonstrate the divine attributes from ge
permits neral providence; but are here forced by perverse antago
much°ac^ nu^9 to ^ sometime on die defensive; being sufficiently able
cording to in this point to defend ourselves, but not so able hence to
dom, not convince such sturdy adversaries: it is only the children of
interposing wify0m here, that will justify her; therefore I wave that
great rea- plea: but for particular providence, I dare appeal to most
the' have men» especially to those who have ever had any fear of here yyip* God or sense of goodness, if sometime or other in their "ckrys. nves tney have not in their needs (especially upon their addresses to God) found help and comfort conveyed unto them by an indiscernible hand; if they have not, sometimes in an unaccountable manner, escaped grievous dangers; if they have not experienced, in performance of their duty and devotion toward God, a comfort extraordinary; if they cannot apply that of the Psalmist to some Psai. xxxiv. events of their life; This poor man cried, and the Lord 6'7' 8" heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles: The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and deliverelh them: 0 tajle and fee that the Lord is good! 0 taste and fee: k if God's goodness may be felt and seen by us, then is our own experience an argument of his existence: which indeed it is to all good men, (for whose comfort and confirmation I mention it;) though it is not likely to have much influence upon those that have driven God's presence out of their souls; except they have so much ingenuity as to believe others' testimony, who assert this great truth to them from their own inward conscience and experience.
1 have insisted too long upon this subject, it being so rich and copious, that I could not easily get out of it; nor can I much repent thereof, it being of so great consequence throughly to be persuaded of this point: the deeper and more strongly this foundation is laid, the more stable will the superstructure of religious practice be thereupon; and I fear most of that coldness and imperfection which appears therein, doth arise chiefly from the weakness of our faith in this very article.
k Indeed this opinion being not fixed steadily in men's persuasion, there can be no steady bottom of virtuous practice: no, nor to a wife man any comfortable life: ri pti £«» ■• *«<r^» xi»* Si£», S «;««a< «■>«, faith that noble Emperor nobly: ri xat Iir&v/i* tixxi* ffvyx^i/uxri xai f vf^cy rutirf ifiimr^Xuf' to live in such a blind confusion, &c. ii. 2. vi. 10.
I. I (hall only farther observe one or two particulars: first, that the preceding arguments, as they do most immediately evince those three principal attributes of God, his incomprehensible wisdom, power, and goodness; so, in conjunction with (or consequence from) them, they do declare those his other attributes, (which are ingredients also of that notion, which in the beginning of this discourse I described,) namely, the eternity and indefectibility of his existence; his immense omnipresence; his spirituality: as also his justice and veracity; his rightful sovereignty of dominion, and the like; (for I cannot prosecute all the divine perfections, according to that multiplicity of distinction which our conceit and expression doth make of them :) if God made all things, he could not receive being from another, (and he who made this world, what reason can we have to suppose him from another?) nor can any thing receive being of itself; nor from mere nothing of itself spring up into being: therefore the Maker of the world is eternal: something must be eternal, otherwise nothing could be at all; other things (hew themselves to have proceeded from the wisdom and goodness of one; that one therefore is eternal; and so all nations consent; and so revelation declares: that he is immortal and immutable, doth as plainly follow: for not depending for his being on any thing belonging to it, neither can he depend for his continuance or conservation: having superior power to all things, as having conferred to all whatever of power they have, nothing can make any prevalent impression upon him, so as to destroy or alter any thing in him: from his making, and from his upholding, and from his governing all things, it follows that he was and is every where: where his power is, there his hand must be: for nothing can act upon what is distant; every action with effect requires a conjunction of the agent and pa