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inwardly in our hearts, that they may bring forth SERM. in us the fruit of good living, to the honour and VII. praise of thy name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

I Believe in God,

SERMON VIII.

THE BEING OF GOD PROVED FROM

UNIVERSAL CONSENT.

PSALM xix. 3, 4.

*

There is no speech nor language where their voice is not *Who read heard: their line (or rather, according to the LXX, their instead of voice) is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

קולם

SERM. THE Psalmist doth in this place observe and affirm

VIII.

(very plainly) the universality of religion; that all nations did conspire in acknowledging a Divinity, and ascribing thereto the framing and conservation of the heavens. He supposes the heavens to speak an universal language, heard and understood by all people, therein glorifying God and declaring him their Maker.

Upon which supposition I purpose now to ground an argument, to prove (that which formerly by several other kinds of discourse I have endeavoured to evince) that great fundamental truth concerning the existence of God, that is, of one incomprehensibly excellent Being, the Maker and Governor of all things.

nium popu

que gen

diffiden

i. 2.

The argument (to be short) is that (as Lactantius SERM. speaks) universal and unanimous testimony of VIII. people and nations, through all courses of time, who⚫ Testimo(otherwise differing in language, custom, and conceit) lorum atonly have agreed in this one matter of opinion. inuna This testimony, in itself simply taken, hath indeed hac re non (according to the rules of reason and judgments of tium. Lact. wise men, no small force; but seems to have much greater, if we consider the source, whatever that could be, whence it was derived. As to the thing absolutely taken, Aristotle thus ranks the degrees of probability: what seems true to some wise men is somewhat probable; what seems to the most or to all wise men, is very probable; what most men, both wise and unwise, assent unto, doth still more resemble truth; but what men generally consent in hath the highest probability, and approaches near to demonstrable truth; so near, that it may pass for ridiculous arrogance and self-conceitedness, or for intolerable obstinacy and perverseness, to deny it. A oundvis man, saith the philosopher, may assume what seems too lar true to the wise, if it do not contradict the common univavríov opinion of men; no man's wisdom (he supposes) suf-deficient to balance the general authority of men. deed, when extravagant wits, and pretenders to wisdom, (or to an extraordinary reach in knowledge,) shall assert things evidently repugnant to sense or reason; that snow and coal have the like appearance, (as did Anaxagoras ;) that all motion is impossible, (as Zeno;) that contradictory propositions may be consistent, (as Heraclitus ;) we may add to those instances, that all things in nature proceeded from chance, (as Epicurus and his followers ;) what other means have we (since no principles can be more evi

τὸ δοκοῦν τοῖς

ταῖς τῶν

ais Top.

In-i. 8.

VIII.

SERM. dent than such propositions as they reject) to confute them, or to decide the cause, than making appeal to the common sentiments of mankind? which if they decline, what have we more to do than to laugh at or pity them? however, surely, he needs to have a very strong and very clear reason to shew, who dares to withstand the common suffrage of mankind, and to challenge all the world of mistake. Now some

what to enforce this discourse; but more to evidence the matter of fact upon which it is grounded, and withal to make good that confirmation thereof, which was intimated; I shall allege some few testimonies of ancient philosophers, (that is, of witnesses in this cause most impartial and unsuspected,) selected out of innumerable others extant and obvious, serving to the same purpose: We are wont to attribute much, saith Seneca, to what all men presume; it is an argument with us of truth, that any thing seems true to all; as that there be Gods we hence collect, for that all men have engrafted in them an opinion concerning Gods; neither is there any nation so void of laws, or good manners, that it doth not believe there are some Godsa; so doth he assert the matter of fact, and argue from it. The like doth Cicero in many places, sometimes in the person of his dialogists, sometimes according to his own sense; pressing this argument as very weighty. This, saith he, in his Tusculan Questions, seems a most firm thing, which is alleged, why we should believe Gods

a Multum dare solemus præsumptioni omnium hominum, apud nos veritatis argumentum est aliquid omnibus videri; tanquam Deos esse sic colligimus, quod omnibus de Diis opinio insita est; nec ulla gens usquam est adeo extra leges moresque) projecta, ut non aliquos Deos credat. Sen. Epist. cxvii. vid. de Benef. iv. 4.

VIII.

to be, because no nation is so fierce, no man so wild, SERM. whose mind an opinion concerning Gods hath not imbued: many think amiss concerning Gods, for that uses to proceed from bad custom, but all do however conceive a Divine power and nature to exist-Now in all things the consent of all nations is to be supposed a law of nature. We shall have other occasion to cite divers places out of Plato and Aristotle, confirming the same thing; I shall now only add these pregnant words of Maximus Tyrius: In such a quarrelling, and tumult, and jangling, (about other matters of opinion,) you may see this one by common accord acknowledged law and speech, that there is one God, the King and Father of all; and many gods, the children of God, and ruling together with him: this the Greek says, and this the Barbarian says; the inhabiter of the continent, and the islander; the wise and the unwise do say the sameo.

Thus it appears, by testimony abundantly sufficient, (to which also all histories ancient and modern do agree,) that our conclusion hath been the catholic and current doctrine of all times and of all places;

b Firmissimum hoc afferri videtur cur Deos esse credamus, quod nulla gens tam fera, nemo omnium tam sit immanis, cujus mentem non imbuerit Deorum opinio. Multi de Diis prava sentiunt, (id enim vitioso more effici solet ;) omnes tamen esse vim, et naturam divinam arbitrantur.-Omni autem in re consensio omnium gentium lex naturæ putanda est. Tusc. i. p. 299. Vid. de Nat. Deor. i. pag. 22. et ii. pag. 53, 57, &c.

• Ἐν τοσούτῳ δὲ πολέμῳ καὶ στάσει καὶ διαφωνίᾳ ἕνα ἴδοις ἂν ἐν πάσῃ γῇ ὁμόφωνον νόμον καὶ λόγον, ὅτι Θεὸς εἰς πάντων βασιλεὺς καὶ πατήρ· καὶ θεοὶ πολλοὶ, Θεοῦ παῖδες, συνάρχοντες Θεῷ, ταῦτα δὲ ὁ Ἕλλην λέγει, καὶ ὁ Βαρβαρος λέγει, καὶ ὁ ἐπειρώτης, καὶ ὁ θαλάττιος, καὶ ὁ σοφὸς, καὶ ὁ ἄσοφος. Diss. i. p. 5.

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