Considerations of the existence of God and of the immortality of the soul, with the recompences of the future state for the cure of infidelity, the hectick evil of the times
Bates, William, 1625-1699.
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OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD.

CHAP. I.*

Atheism is fearful of publick disco∣very. Three heads of Arguments to prove the Being of GOD. 1. The visible frame of the World, and the numerous Natures in it, exactly modelled for the good of the whole, prove it to be the work of a most wise Agent. The World Page  2consider'd in its several parts. The Sun in its situation, motion, and effects, declare the Providence of the Creator. The diurnal motion of the Sun from East to West is very beneficial to Nature. The annual course brings admirable advantage to it. The gradual passing of the sensible World, from the excess of heat to the extremi∣ty of cold, an effect of Provi∣dence. The constant revolutions of Day and Night, and of the Seasons of the Year, discovers that a wise Cause orders them.

IN the managing the present subject, I shall first pro∣pound such things as clearly discover that a Soveraign Spirit, rich in Goodness, most wise in Coun∣sel, Page  3 and powerful in Operation, gave being to the World, and Man in it. This part of my work may seem needless, be∣cause there are very few, if any, declared Atheists. As Mon∣sters remain where they are born, in the desert sands of Afri∣ca, not seen, unless sought for; so there are some unnatural Enormities that conscious how execrable they are, conceal themselves in secret, and dare not appear in open view. And of all others, no impiety is so monstrous and fearful of pub∣lick discovery as Atheism. But, The fool saith in his heart, there is no God. He secretly whispers in contradiction to Nature, Rea∣son, Conscience, Authorities, there is no supream invisible Power to whom he is accounta∣ble. Page  4 And having thus conclu∣ded in the dark, he loses all re∣verence of the Divine Laws, and is only govern'd by the vi∣cious rule of his carnal Appe∣tites. That many in our times, even of the great Pretenders to Wit and Reason, are guilty of this extream folly, is sadly evi∣dent. They live, as absolute Atheists, only refuse the title, for fear of infamy, or punishment. It will therefore not be unsea∣sonable to revive the natural notion of the Deity. Now to establish this Truth no Argu∣ments are more convincing than what are level to all under∣standings. And those are,

I. The visible frame of the World, and the numerous na∣tures in it, all model'd by this supream rule, the good of the whole.

Page  5 II. The Evidences that prove the World had a beginning in time.

III. The universal sence of the Deity imprest on the minds of Men.

1. The first Reason is clear and intelligible to all: for 'tis the inseparable property of an intellectual Agent to propound an End, to judg of the conveni∣ence between the Means and it, and to contrive them in such a manner as to accomplish it. Now if we survey the Universe, and all the beings it contains, their proportion, dependence and harmony, it will fully ap∣pear that antecedently to its ex∣istence, there was a perfect mind that design'd it, and disposed the various parts in that exact order, that one beautiful World is Page  6 compos'd of them. The* Philo∣sopher conjectured truly, who being shipwrackt on the Island of Rhodes, and come to the shore, spying some Mathemati∣cal figures drawn on the Sand, cryed out with joy, Vestigia ho∣minum video, I see the foosteps of men, and comforted his dispair∣ing companions, that they were not cast into a Desert, or a place of Savages, but of Men civil and wise, as he discover'd by those impressions of their minds. And if we observe the frame of the World, the concatenation of the superior with the middle, and of the middle with the lower parts, whereby 'tis not an accidental aggregation of bodies, but an in∣tire universe; if we consider the just disposing them convenient∣ly to their nature and dignity, Page  7 the inferiour and less noble de∣pending on the superiour, and that so many contrary natures, with that fidelity and league of mutual love embrace and assist each other, that every one work∣ing according to its peculiar quality, yet all unite their ope∣rations for one general end, the preservation and benefit of the whole, must not we strongly conclude that 'tis the work of a designing & most wise Agent?

*
—Pulchrum pulcherrimus ipse
Mundum mente gerens, similique ab imagine formans.
To make this more evident, I will produce some Instances.

The Sun, of all coelestial Bo∣dies the most excellent in beau∣ty and usefulness, does in its si∣tuation, motion, effects, publish the glory of a most wise Provi∣dence.

Page  8 1. In its situation. The foun∣tains of all his benefit to Nature are heat and light: with respect to its heat the Sun may well be call'd the Heart of the World, wherein all the vital Spirits are prepar'd; and 'tis so conveni∣ently plac't, as to transmit more or less immediatly to all even the most distant parts of that vast body, by perpetual irradia∣tions, the influences necessary for its preservation. It cannot be in another place without the disorder and injury of Univer∣sal Nature. If it were rais'd to the Stars, the Earth for want of its quickning heat would lose its prolifick vertue, and remain a carcass. The Air would be fill'd with continual oppressing va∣pours, the Sea would overflow the Land. If it were as low as Page  9 the Moon, as dangerous effects would follow, The Air would be inflam'd by its excessive heat, the Sea boyling, the Rivers dry∣ed up, every Mountain a Vesu∣vius or Aetna; the whole Earth a barren mass of Ashes, a desert of Arabia. But seated in the midst of the Planets, it purifies the Air, abates the superfluity of Waters, temperately warms the Earth, and keeps the Elements in such degrees of power, as are requi∣sit for the activity of mixt bo∣dies depending on them.

Besides, there is a sensible proof of a wise Director in its Motion, from whence so many and various effects proceed. The Diurnal Motion from East to West causes the Day. The Sun is the first spring and great ori∣ginal of Light, and by his pre∣sence Page  10 discovers the beauties of the most of visible Objects. From hence all the pleasant va∣riety of Colours, to which Light is the Soul that gives vivacity. Without it the World would be the Sepulcher of it self, nothing but silence and solitude, horror and Confusion. The Light guides our Journeys, awakens and directs our Industry, pre∣serves mutual Conversation. And the withdrawing of the Sun from one Hemisphere to ano∣ther is as beneficial to the World by causing Night. For that has peculiar advantages. Its dark∣ness inlightens us to see the Stars, and to understand their admirable Order, Aspects, Influ∣ences, their Conjunction, Di∣stances, Opposition, from which proceeds their different effects Page  11 in all passive Bodies. Now what can be more pleasant than the Ornaments and Diversities of these Twins of time? Besides, by this distinction of the Day and Night there is a fit successi∣on of labour and rest, of the Works and Thoughts of Men, those proper to the Day, active and clear, the other to the Night, whose obscurity prevents the wandring of the mind through the senses, and silence favours its calm contemplations.

And the constant revolution of Day and Night in the space of twenty four hours is of great benefit. If they should conti∣nue six entire Months together, as under the Poles, though their space would be equal in the compass of the Year as now, yet with publick disadvantage. The Page  12 shining of the Sun without in∣termission, would be very hurt∣ful to the Earth, and to its Inha∣bitants. And its long absence would cause equal mischeifs by contrary qualities. For the nature of Man and other living Crea∣tures cannot subsist long in tra∣vail without repairing their de∣cays by rest. Now the successi∣on of Day and Night in that space, fitly tempers their labour and repose. After the toilsom service of the Day, the Sun re∣tires behind the Earth, and the Night procures a truce from business, unbends the World, and invites to rest in its deep si∣lence and tranquillity. And by sleep, when the animal operati∣ons cease, the Spirits that were much consum'd in the service of the senses, are renewed, and Page  13 united in assistance to the vital faculties, the Body is restored, and at the springing Day made fresh and active for new labour. So that the wisdom of the Crea∣tour is as visible in the manner of this dispensation, as the thing it self. And 'tis an observable point of Providence in order∣ing the length and shortness of Days and Nights for the good of the several parts of the World. Under the Equinoctial Line the Earth being parcht by the di∣rect beams of the Sun, the nights are regularly twelve hours through the Year, fresh and moist to remedy that inconve∣nience: On the contrary, in the northern parts, where there is a fainter reflection of its Beams, the Days are very long, that the Sun may supply by its continu∣ance, Page  14 what is defective in its vi∣gour to ripen the fruits of the Earth.

The annual course of the Sun between the North and South discovers also the high and ad∣mirable wisdom of God. For all the benefits that Nature re∣ceives, * depends on his uner∣ring constant motion through the same Circle declining and oblique, with respect to the Poles of the World. 'Tis not possible that more can be done with less. From hence proceeds the difference of Climates, the inequality of Days and Nights, the variety of Seasons, the di∣verse mixtures of the first quali∣ties, the universal Instruments of natural Productions. In the Spring 'tis in conjunction with the Pleiades, to cause sweet Page  15 showers, that are as milk to nou∣rish the new-born tender plants, that hang at the breasts of the Earth. In the Summer 'tis joyn'd with the Dog-Star, to redouble its force, for the production of Fruits necessary to the support of living Creatures. And Win∣ter, that in appearance is the death of Nature, yet is of ad∣mirable use for the good of the Universe. The Earth is clensed, moistened and prepar'd, so that our hopes of the succeeding Year depends on the Frosts and Snows of Winter.

If the Sun in its diurnal and annual motion were so swift that the Year were compleated in six Months, and the Day and Night in twelve hours, the fruits of the Earth would want a ne∣cessary space to ripen. If on the Page  16 contrary it were so slow as dou∣ble the time were spent in its return, the Harvest but once gather'd in the twenty four Months, could not suffice for the nourishment of living Crea∣tures.

'Tis also a considerable effect of Providence, that the sensible World do's not suddenly pass from the highest degrees of heat to the extremity of cold, nor from this to that, but so gradu∣ally that the passage is not only tolerable, but pleasant. Imme∣diate extreams are very dange∣rous to Nature. To prevent that inconvenience the Spring in∣terposes between the Winter and Summer, by its gentle heat dis∣posing living bodies for the ex∣cess of Summer. And Autumn of a middle quality prepares them Page  17 for the rigour of Winter; that they may pass from one to ano∣ther without violent alterati∣on.

To attribute these revoluti∣ons, so just and uniform to Chance is the perfection of folly, * for Chance, as a cause that works without design, has no constancy nor order in its ef∣fects. If a Dy be thrown a hun∣dred times, the fall is contin∣gent, and rarely happens to be twice together on the same square. Now the Alternate re∣turns of Day and Night are perpetual in all the Regions of the Universe. And though neither the one nor the other begin nor end their course, twice together in the same Point; so that their motion appears confused, yet tis so Page  18 just, that at the finishing of the Year they are found to have ta∣ken precisely as many paces the one as the other. In the amia∣ble Warr beween them, though one of the two always gets, and the other loses the hours, yet in the end they retire equal. And the vicissitudes of Sea∣sons with an inviolable tenor succeed one another. Who ever saw the various Scenes of a Theater move by hazard in those just spaces of time, as to represent Palaces, or Woods, Rocks and Seas, as the subject of the Actors requir'd? And can the lower World four times in the circle of the Year change appearance, and alter the Sea∣sons so conveniently to the use of Nature, and no powerful Mind direct that great work? Page  19 frequent discoveries of an end orderly pursued, must be attri∣buted to a judicious Agent. The Psalmist guided not only by In∣spiration but Reason, declares, The Day is thine, the Night also is thine, thou madest the Summer and Winter. But this I shall have oc∣casion to touch on afterward.