14. A Natural Philosopher cannot be an Atheist.
IWonder how some of our learned Writers can imagine, that those who study Reason and Philo∣sophy should make them their Vouchees of Licentious practices, and their secret scorn of Religion, and should ac∣count it a piece of wit and gallantry to be an Atheist, and of atheism to be a Philosopher; considering that Reason Page 43 and Philosophy is the onely way that brings and leads us to the natural knowledg of God: for it would be as much absurdity to say, Reason and Philosophy in∣duce Atheism, as to say, Reason is not Reason; for Reason is the most knowing and wisest part of Nature, and the chief knowledg of Nature is to know there is a God; wherefore those that do argue in such a manner, argue without reason, and by calling others weak heads and fools, prove themselves Irrational. But I perceive their supposition is built upon a false ground; for they are of opinion, That the Exploding of Imma∣terial substances, and the unbounded prerogative of Mat∣ter must needs infer Atheism: which whether it do not shew a weaker head then those have that believe no Immaterial substances in Nature, Rational men may judg: For by this it is evident, that they make Imma∣terial substances to be Gods, by reason they conclude, that he who believes no Immaterial substance in Na∣ture is an Atheist: And thus by proving others A∣theists, they commit Blasphemy themselves; for he that makes a God of a Creature, sins as much, if not more, then he who believes no God at all. And as for the unbounded prerogative of Matter, I see no reason, why men should exclaim against it; for why should Immaterial substances have more prerogative then Ma∣terial? Truly, I may upon the same ground conclude the prerogative of Matter, as well as they do the prero∣gative of Spirits; for both are but Creatures, and in Page 44 that case, one has no more prerogative then the other, for God could make a Material Being to move it self as well as a Material Nothing. Nevertheless, al∣though Matter is self-moving, yet it has not a God∣like omnipotent power, nor any divine attributes; but an Infinite Natural power, that is, a power to pro∣duce infinite effects in her own self, by infinite chan∣ges of Motions: Neither doth it argue that Nature is above God, or at least God-like; for I do not say, that Nature has her self-moving power of her self, or by chance, but that it comes from God the Author of Nature; which proves that God must needs be a∣bove Nature, although Nature is Infinite and Eter∣nal; for these proprieties do not derogate any thing from the Attributes of God, by reason Nature is na∣turally Infinite, which is Infinite in quantity and parts; but God is a Spiritual, Supernatural and In∣comprehensible Infinite; and as for the Eternity of Nature, it is more probable to Regular Reason, then that Nature should have any beginning; for all be∣ginning supposes time, but in God is no time, and there∣fore neither beginning nor ending, neither in himself, nor in his actions; for if God be from all Eternity, his actions are so too, the chief of which is the production or creation of Nature. Thus natural reason may conceive that Nature is the Eternal servant of God; but how it was produced from all Eternity, no parti∣cular or finite creature is able to imagine; by reason Page 45 that not onely God, but also Nature is Infinite, and a finite Creature can have no Idea or conception of Infi∣nite.