« PreviousContinue »
TODOC N all Ages, wherein Learning bath GO Aqurished, Complaint hath been made
of the Itch of Writing, and the Mul. N& 2titude of worthless Books, wherewith importunate Scribblers have pestered the World, Scribimus indocti doctique : And, ---- Tenet infanabile multos Scribendi Cacoethes. I am sensible that this Tra&tate may likely incúrr the Çensure of a superfluous Piece, and myself the Blame of giving the Reader unnecessary Trouble there having been so much fo well written of this Subječt; by the most learned Men of our Time ; Dr. Moore, Dri Cudworth, Dr. Stillingfleet late Bishop of Worcester; Dr. Parker late of Oxon and, to name no more; the Honourable Robert Boyle, Esq; so that it will need some Apology. First, Therefore in Excuse of it, I plead. That there are in it some Confiderations new and untouch'd by others : Wherein; if I be mistaken, I alledge, Secondly, That the Manmer of Delivery and Expression may be more suitable to fome Mens Apprehension, and facile to their Understandings. If that will not hold, I pretend. Thirdly, That all the Particulars con
tained in this Book, cannot be found in any one Piece known to me, but lie scattered and difpersed in inany ; and so this may serve to relieve those fastidious Readers, that are not willing to take the Pains to search them out : And possibly, there may be some whofe Ability (whatever their Industry might be) will not serve them ta purchase, nor their Opportunity to borrow those Books, who yet may spare Money enough to buy so inconfiderable à Trifle. If none of these Excuses suffice to acquit me of Blame, and remove all Prejudice, I have two farther Reasons to offer, which I think will reach home, and justify this Undertaking. First, That all Men who presume-to-write, at least whose Writings the Printers will venture to publish, are of some Note in the World ; and where they do, or have lived and conversed, have some Sphere of Friends and Acquaintance, that know and esteern them, who, it's likely, will buy any Book they fall write for the Author's Sake, who otherwise would have read none of that Subject, tho' ten times better ; and so the Book, however inferiour to what have been already published, may happen to do much Good. Secondly, By Virtue of my Function, I suspect iny self to be obliged to write something in Divinity, having written so much on other Subječts : For being not permitted to serve the Church with my Tongue in Preaching, I know not but it inay be my Duty to serve it with my Hand by Writing. And I have made Choice of this Subječt, as thinking myself best qualified to treat of it. If what I have now written shall
find fo favourable Acceptance, as to encourage me to proceed, God granting Life and Health, the Reader may expect more : if otherwise, I must be content to be laid aside as useless, and (aa. tisfy myself in having made this Experiment."
As for this Discourse, I have been careful to admit nothing for Matter of Faet, or Experid ment, but what is undoubtedly true, left I should build upon a sandy and ruinous Foundation ; and by the Admixture of what is false, render that which is true suspicious.
I might have added many more Particulars ; nay, my Text warrants me to run over all the visible Works of God in particular, and to trace the Footsteps of His Wisdom in the Composition, Order, Harmony, and Uses of every one of them, as well as of those that I have selected. But. First, This would be a Task får transcending my Skill and Abilities ; nay, the Joint Skill and Endeavours of all Men now living, or that all live after a thousand Ages, should the World last so long. For no Man can find out the Work that God maketh from the Beginning to the End, Ecclef. iii. 11. Secondly, I was willing to consult the Infirmity of the Reader, or indeed of Mankind in general ; which after a fort Confinement to one fort of Dish, is apt to loath it, tho' never fo Wholfome, and which at first was most pleasant and acceptable : And so to mon derate my Discourse, as to make an End of Wrio ting, before I might presume be should be quite tired with Reading.
I shall now add a Word or two concerning thë Usefulness of the Argument or Matter of this Discourse, and the Reason I had to make Choice of it, besides what I have alreddy offered.
First, The Belief of a Deity being the Foundation of all Religion ; (Religion being nothing but a devout Worshipping of God, or an Inclination of Mind to serve and worship Him ;) For he that cometh to God, must believe that he is : It is a Matter of the highest Concernment; to be firmly settled and established in a full Persuasion of this main Point: Now this must be demonstrated by Arguments drawn from the Light of Nature, and Works of the Creation: For as all other Sciences; fo Divinity proves not; but supposes its Subje&ts; taking it for granted, that by Natural Light, Men are sufficiently cons vinced of the Being of a Deity. There are in deed supernatural Demonstrations of this fundamental ‘Truth, but not common to all Persons or Times, and so liable to Cavil and Exception by Atheistical Persons, as inward Illuminations of Mind, a Spirit of Prophecy ánd Fore-telling füě ture Contingents, illustrious Miracles, and the like. But these Proofs taken from Effects, and Operations, exposed to every Man's View, not to bé denied or questioned by any, are, most effeEtual to convince all that deny or doubt of it. Neither are they only convictive of the greatest and subtlest Adversaries, but intelligible also to the meanest Capacities. For you may bear illiterate Persons of the lowest Rank of the Commonala ty, affirming, That they need no Proof of the
Being of a God, for that every Pile of Grafs,
say they, all the Men of the World cannot make such a thing as one of these; and if they cannot do it, who can; or did make it but God? Totell them, that it made itself, or Sprung up by chance, would be as ridiculous as to tell the greatest Phis lofopher fo.
Secondly, The Particulars of this Discourse Serve not only to demonstrate the Being of a Deity, but also to illustrate some of his principal Attributes ; as namely, bis infinite Power and Wisdom. The vast Multitude of Creatures, and those not only small, but immensly great; the Sun and Moon, and all the Heavenly Host, are Effects and Proofs of His Almighty Power.
The Heavens declare the Glory of God, and the Firmament fheweth His Handy-Work, Psal. xix. 1. The admirable Contrivance of all
Animals to their several Útfes: The Provision that is made for their Sustenance, which is often taken Notice of in Scripture, Plál. cxlv. 15, 16. The Eyes of áll wait upon Thee, Thou givest them their Meat in due Season. Thou openeft Thy Hand, and satisfiest the Desire of every living Thing. Matth. vi. 26. Behold the Fowls of the Air : For they fow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into Barns; yet your Heavenly Father feedeth them. Psal. cxlvii. 9. He giveth to the Beast his Food, and to the young Ravens when they cry. And, Lastly, Their mutual Subserviency to each other, and