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if there were no God, and so this article not true, I could not be, and so not think it true. But in that I think, I am sure I am; and in that I am, I am sure there is a God; for if there were no God, how came I to be? How came I hither? Who gave me my being? Myself?-that could not be; for before I had a being, I was nothing; and therefore could do nothing, much less make myself a being. Did my parents give me my being? Alas! they knew not that I should be, before I was; and, therefore, certainly could not give me my being when I was not.
As to my soul, which I call myself, it is plain they could not give me that, because it is a being of a spiritual nature, quite distinct from matter, as my own experience tells me; and therefore could not be the product of any natural or material agent; for, that a bodily substance should give being to a spiritual one, implies a contradiction. And if it could neither make itself, nor take its rise from any earthly or secondary cause, I may certainly conclude, from my own reason as well as from divine revelation, that it must be infused by God, though I am not able to determine either when or how it was done.
As to my body, indeed I must own it was derived from my parents. But whence came my parents? From our first parents in Paradise? Be it so; but whence came they? Did they spring out of the earth? No. What then? Were they made by chance? This could not be; for as chance seldom or never produces any one effect that is regular and uniform, so it cannot be supposed that a being of such admirable beauty, symmetry, and proportion, and such a nice contexture of parts, as the body of man is, should ever be jumbled together by a fortuitous concourse of atoms, which nothing but the chimeras of Epicurus could ever reduce into a regular form and composition.
And the like may be said of all other created beings in the world; for there is no natural cause can give being to any thing, unless it has that being it gives in itself; for it is a received maxim in philosophy, that nothing can give what it has not. And so, however the bodies of men, or brutes, or plants, may now, in the ordinary course of nature, be produced, yet there must needs be some one
supreme almighty Being in the world, that has the being of all other beings in itself; who first created these several species, and endued them with this power to propagate their kind: and this supreme Being is that which we call God.
Hence it is that there is not a leaf, no not a line, in this great book of the creation, wherein we may not clearly read the existence and perfections of the great and glorious Creator, and that even by the glimmering light of nature; for who is it that bedecked yonder stately canopy of heaven with those glistering spangles, the stars? Who is it that commands the sun to run his course, and the moon to ride her circuit so constantly about the world? Who is it that formed me so curiously in my mother's womb? Who is it that gives my stomach power to digest such variety of meats into chyle, and my heart or liver to turn them all to blood, and thence to send each particle to its proper place, and all to keep up this crazy carcase? Doubtless these, and such like things, however ordinary or natural they may appear to us at present, are in themselves very great and wonderful effects, that must, at first, be produced by some infinitely powerful and supernatural agent, the high and mighty God, who is not only the chiefest of beings, but the Being of all beings whatsoever. I say the Being of all beings, because whatsoever excellency or perfection is in any other thing is eminently, yea, infinitely comprehended in him; so that he is not only the creature's perfection in the concrete, but in the abstract too. He is not only all-wise, all-good, almighty; but he is all-wisdom, all-goodness, all-might, all-mercy, all-justice, all-glory. And as he is the ocean and abyss of all these perfections in himself, so is he the fountain of them all to us. Insomuch that we have nothing, not so much as the least moment of life, but what is communicated to us from this ever-living God. And not only what we, poor sinful worms, are or have, but even whatsoever those nobler creatures the angels have, it is but a beam darted from this sun; it is but a stream flowing from this overflowing fountain.
Lift up thine eyes, therefore, O my soul, and fix them a little upon this glorious object! How glorious, how
transcendently glorious, must he needs be, who is the Being of all beings, the perfection of all perfections, the very glory of all glories, the eternal God! He is the glory of love and goodness, who is good, and doth good continually unto me, though I be evil, and do evil continually against him. He is the glory of wisdom and knowledge, unto whom all the secret thoughts, the inward motions and retirements of my soul, are exactly known and manifest. Never did a thought lurk so secretly in my heart, but that his all-seeing eye could espy it out: even at this time, he knows what I am now thinking of, and what I am doing, as well as myself. And indeed well may he know what I think, and speak, and do, when I can neither think, nor speak, nor do any thing, unless himself be pleased to give me strength to do it. He is the glory of might and power, who did but speak the word, and there presently went out that commanding power from him, by which this stately fabric of the world was formed and fashioned. And as he created all things by the word of his power, so I believe he preserves and governs all things by the power of the same word. Yea, so great is his power and sovereignty, that he can as easily frown my soul from my body into hell or nothing, as I can throw this book out of my hand to the ground: nay, he need not throw me into nothing; but as, if I should let go my hold, the book would presently fall, so, should. God but take away his supporting hand from under me, I should of myself immediately fall down to nothing. This therefore is that God, whom I believe to be the Being of all beings; and so the Creator, Preserver, Governor, and Disposer of all things in the world.
I believe, that whatsoever the most high God would have me to believe or do, in order to his glory and my happiness, he hath revealed to me in his holy Scriptures.
UPON the same account that I believe there is a God, I believe likewise that this God is to be worshipped; the same light that discovers the one, discovering the other
too. And therefore it is, that as there is no nation or people in the world, but acknowledge some Deity, so there is none but worship that Deity which they acknowledge; yea, though it be but a stick or a stone, yet if they fancy any thing of divinity in it, they presently perform worship and homage to it. Nay, that God is to be worshipped, is a truth more generally acknowledged than that there is a God. No nation, I confess, ever denied the latter, but no particular person ever denied the former; so that the very persons who, through diabolical delusions and their own prevalent corruptions, have suspected the existence of a Deity, could not but acknowledge that he was to be worshipped if he did exist; worship being that which is contained in the very notion of a Deity; which is, that he is the Being of all beings, upon whom all other things or beings do depend, and unto whom they are beholden both for their essence and subsistence. And if there be such a Being that is the spring and fountain of all other beings, it is necessary that all other should reverence and worship him, without whom they could not subsist. And therefore it is, that men are generally more superstitious in their worshipping than they ought to be, rather than deny that worship to him which they ought to give.
That, therefore, there is a God, and that this God is to be worshipped, I do not doubt; but the great question is, who is this God whom I ought to worship? and. what is that worship which I ought to perform unto him? The former I have resolved upon in the foregoing article, as the light of reason and my natural conscience suggested to me; the latter I am resolved to search out in this article, namely, which, of all the several kinds of worship that men perform to the Deity, and the several religions that men profess in the world, I had best make choice of to profess and adhere to. The general inclinations which are naturally implanted in my soul to some religion, it is impossible for me to shift off; but there being such a multiplicity of religions in the world, I desire now seriously to consider with myself which of them all to restrain these my general inclinations to.
And the reason of this my enquiry is not that I am in the least dissatisfied with that religion I have already em
braced, but because it is natural for all men to have an overbearing opinion and esteem for that particular religion they are born and bred up in. That, therefore, I may not seem biassed by the prejudice of education, I am resolved to prove and examine them all, that I may see and hold fast to that which is best. For though I do not in the least question but that I shall, upon inquiry, find the Christian religion to be the only true religion in the world, yet I cannot say it is, unless I find it upon good grounds to be so indeed; for, to profess myself a Christian, and believe that Christians are in the right only because my forefathers were so, is no more than the Heathens and Mahometans have to say for themselves. Indeed there was never any religion so barbarous and diabolical, but it was preferred before all other religions whatsoever by them that did profess it ; otherwise they would not have professed it. The Indians, that worship the Devil, would think it as strange doctrine to say that Christ is to be feared more than the Devil, as such as believe in Christ think it is, to say the Devil is to be preferred before Christ. So do the Mahometans call all that believe not in Mahomet, as well as Christians call those that believe not in Christ, infidels. "And why," say they, "may not you be mistaken as well as we, especially when there are at the least six to one against your Christian religion; all of which think they serve God aright, and expect happiness thereby, as well as you?"" So that to be a Christian only upon the grounds of birth or education, is all one as if I were a Turk or a heathen; for if I had been born amongst them, I should have had the same reason for their religion as now I have for my own; the premises are the same, though the conclusion be never so different. It is still upon the same grounds that I profess religion, though it be another religion which I profess upon these grounds; so that I can see but very little difference betwixt being a Turk by profession, and a Christian only by education; which commonly is the means and occasion, but ought by no means to be the ground, of any religion. And hence it is, that in my looking out for the truest religion, being conscious to myself how great an ascendant Christianity hath over me beyond the rest, as being that religion whereinto I was