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give a fatisfactory account why he beVolume lieves it, I know no way but that all XII. confiderate inquifitive men, that are above Fancy and Enthufiafin, must be either Socinians or Atheists.
I cannot imagine how men can do greater differvice to Religion, than by taking it off from the rational and folid Bafis upon which it ftands, and bearing the World in hand, that men ought to believe without reafon: for this is to turn Faith into Credulity, and to level Christian Religion with the vileft and moft groundlefs Enthusiasms that ever were in the World. Indeed if we had only to deal with Henry Nicholas, and Jacob Behman, who fight against us in the dark, not with Reafons and Arguments, but with infignificant Words, and obfcure Phrafes; we might make a fhift to bear up against them with this Principle, and we might charge them to believe us, as they do us to believe them, without giving them any reafon for it: but if we were to deal with Celfus, or Julian, or Porphyry, or fome of our modern Atheists, we should foon find how vain it would
be to go about to cajole them with Phrafes, and to gain them over to Christianity, by telling them that they muft deny their Reason, and lay afide their Understandings, and believe they know not why. If the great Pillars of Chriftianity, the ancient Fathers, had taken this courfe in their Apologies for Christian Religion, it had never triumph'd over Judaifm and Paganism as it did; and whoever hath Read over thofe Defences and Vindications of Chriftian Religion againft Jews and Heathens, which were written in the first Ages of the Church, efpecially the Books of Origen against Celfus, and Eufebius his Book de Demonft. and Preparat. Evangel. fhall find that they did very folicitoufly endeavour to fatisfie the World by all rational ways, both of the truth and reafonablencis of Chriftian Religion. And if that was a good way then, it is fo now; and never more necessary than in this Age, which I fear hath as many Atheists and Infidels, that go under the name of Chriftians, as ever were in any Age fince Chriftian Religion was first planted in the World.
But my defign at present is not XII. to perfwade men particularly to the belief of Chriftianity (that I intend hereafter, by God's Affiftance, to fpeak to) but to perfwade men to the belief of Religion in general. So that all that I fhall do at prefent, fhall be, as briefly as I can, to offer fome Arguments and Confiderations to perfwade men to the Belief of the Principles of Natural Religion, and of the Revelation which God hath made of his Mind and Will in the Holy Scriptures.
1. To perfwade men to believe the Principles of Natural Religion, fuch as the Being of God; the immortality of the Soul; and future Rewards after this Life. I fhall offer these two Confiderations.
Firfl, That it is most reasonable fo to do.
Secondly, That it is infinitely moft prudent.
I. As to the Being of God. Do but confider these two things which VI. are undeniable; That there is a World however it came; and that Mankind do generally confent in a confident perfwafion that there is a God, what: ever be the caufe of it. Now thefe two things being certain, and not liable to any Queftion, let us enquire whether a reasonable account can be given of these without a God.
1. Suppofing there be no God, How came this vaft and orderly Frame of the World? There are but two ways that can be imagined. Either it was from Eternity always of it felf; or it began fometime to be. That it fhould be always of it felf; tho' it may be imagined of the Heavens, and the Earth, which as to the main, are permanent, and continue the fame; yet in things that fucceed one after another, it is altogether unimaginable. As in the Generation of men,there can be no doubt, whether every one of them was from another, or fome of themselves. Some of them must be of themfelves: for whatever number
ber of Causes be imagined in orderVolume ly Succeffion, fome of them muft have XII. no Caufe, but be of themselves. Now that which is of it felf, and the Caufe of all others, is the first. So that there must be a first Man; and the Age of Man being finite, this first Man must have a beginning. So that an infinite Succeffion of Men should have been, is impoffible; and confequently, that men were always. But I need not infift much upon this, because few or none of our modern Atheists pitch upon this way. Befides that Ariftotle,who is reputed the great afferter of the Eternity of the World, doth acknowledge an Infinite progrefs and Succeffion of Caufes to be one of the greatest Abfurdities.
Suppofe then the World began fome time to be; it muft either be made by Counsel and Defign, that is, produced by fome Being that knew what it did, that did Contrive it and Frame it as it is; which it is eafie to conceive a Being that is infinitely Good, and Wife, and Powerful, might do: but this is to own a God: or elfe the Matter of it being fuppofed to