Eight Sermons Preach'd at the Honourable Robert Boyle's Lecture, in the First Year, MDCXCII. (Richard Bentley) pdf, epub, doc

I Shall not now make any enquiry about the time and occasion and other circumstances of composing this Psalm; nor how it comes to pass, that with very little variation we have it twice over, both here the 14th. and again number the 53d. Not that these and such like are not important considerations in themselves; but that I think them improper now, when we are to argue and expostulate with such persons, as allow no Divine Authority to our Text; and profess no greater, or, it may be they will say, less Veneration for these Sacred Hymns, than for the profane Songs of Anacreon or Horace. So that although I my self do really believe, that all such as say in their Hearts, There is no God, are foolish and corrupt, both in Understanding and Will; because I see infinite Wisdom it self has pronounced them to be so: nevertheless this Argument would at present have no force upon these men, till in due time and method we have evinced the sufficient Authority of Holy Scripture. But however there are other Books extant, which they must needs allow of as proper Evidence; even the mighty Volumes of visible Nature, and the everlasting Tables of Right Reason; wherein, if they do not wilfully shut their Eyes, they may read their own Folly written by the Finger of God, in a much plainer and more terrible Sentence, than [1] f defaced. Whence it will follow, that Speculative Atheism does only subsist in Our speculation; whereas really Humane Nature cannot be guilty of the crime: that indeed a few sensual and voluptuous Persons may for a season eclipse this native Light of the Soul; but can never so wholly smother and extinguish it, but that at come lucid intervals it will recover it self again, and shine forth to the conviction of their Conscience. And therefore they believed, that the words would not admit of a strict and rigorous Interpretation; but ought to be so temper'd and accommodated to the nature of things, as that they may describe those profane persons; who, though they do not, nor can really doubt in their Hearts of the Being of God, yet they openly deny his Providence in the course of their lives. Now if this be all that is meant by the Text, I do not see how we can defend, not only the fitness and propriety, but the very truth of the expression. As to that natural and indeleble signature of God, which Human Souls in their first Origin are supposed to be stamp'd with, I shall shew at a fitter opportunity, that it is a mistake, and that we have no need of it in our Disputes against Atheism. So that being free from that prejudice, I interpret the words of the Text in the literal acceptation, which will likewise take in the Expositions of others. For I believe that the Royal in this comprehensive brevity of speech, There is no God, hath concluded all the various Forms of Impiety; whether of such as excludes the Deity from governing the World by his Providence, or judging it by his Righteousness, or creating it by his Wisdom and Power. Because the consequence and result of all these Opinions is terminated in downright Atheism. For the Divine Inspection into the Affairs of the World doth necessarily follow from the Nature and Being of God. And he that denies this, doth implicitly deny his Existence: he may acknowledg what he will with his mouth, but in his heart he hath said, There is no God. A God, therefore a Providence; was a general argument of virtuous men, and not peculiar to the Stoics alone. And again, No Providence, therefore no God; was the most plausible reason, and the most frequent in the mouth of Atheistical Men. So that it seems to be agreed on all hands, that the Existence of God and his Government of the World do mutually suppose and imply one another.

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