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the spirit of picty; it is from pride and an impatience of contradiction, or from lust of dominion, or a violent desire of engrossing the places of honour and profit, that men endeavour, by cruel and coercive methods, to silence their opponents, and suppress their competitors. And if it will be allowed, that human passions will always exert themselves with unifornity, and therefore still produce the like effects, if we may foretel what atheists, when in power, are like to do, from what they have done, as far as they had ability; we may be assured, when they do not want power, they will never want a will, to employ violence, to extinguish the notions of piety, and the hateful heresy of religion. It would not be strange if atheistical tests in such a state of affairs should be formed and imposed, to keep men of dangerous principles out of all posts of power and profit; and all that believed the being of a God, and the rewards and punishments of another life, should be looked on as disaffccted to the government, and the disturbers of the public peace. And if such motions of impiety, and such a degenerate constitution of manners, should ever prevail in this unhappy nation, any man, without the gift of prophecy, and, indeed, with a very moderate penetration, may foresee, that the public will then be exposed to inevitable ruin. But before the interests of virtue and religion are reduced to so deplorable a state, it is to be hoped this once wise and sober nation will awaken from its lethargy; that, notwithstanding the present popularity of vice, levity, and impiety, it may one day recover its relish of solid knowledge and real merit; that buffoons themselves may one day be exposed, the laughers in their turn become ridiculous, and an atheistical scoffer be as much out of credit, as a sober and religious man is at present: virtue, seriousness, and a due reverence of sacred and divine things, may revive among us; and it is the duty and interest of every man that loves his country, and wishes well to mankind, to make his utmost efforts to bring about such a happy revolution. This would the sooner be effected, if the virtuous part of ingenious men (for virtue has still a party) would not supinely stand by, and see the honour and interest of religion exposed and insulted; but instead of an abject, unactive despondence, would unite their endeavours, with vigour and resolution, against the common enemies of God and their country. It is great pity, that in so noble a cause any should show such poorness of spirit, as to be ashamed of asserting their religion, and stemming the tide of impicty, for fear of becoming the entertainment of scoffing libertimes. I know the gentlemen of atheistical notions pretend to refined parts, and pass themselves upon the world for wits of the first rank: yet, in debate, they decline argument, and rather trust to the decision of raillery. But if it were possible for these gentlemen to apply themselves in good earnest to the reasons alleged in proof of a Divine Being, in a manner that becomes an inquiry of such conscquence, I should believe their conviction were not to be despaired of. But there is little appearance that they will be ever prevailed on to consider this matter with deliberate and unprejudiced thought; and, therefore, I am not so sanguine to think, that any arguments I can bring, though ever so clear and demonstrative, are likely to make any impression upon a veteran atheist. I have, nevertheless, thought it a seasonable service to endeavour to stop the contagion, and, as far as I am able, to preserve those who are not yet infected. I would entreat these to distinguish between raillery and argument, and not believe that mirth aught to determine in so weighty a case ; that they would not admit of principles of the utmost con•ern without examination, and take impicty upon content; that they would appeal from the buffoon and the mockcr; to the impartial decision of right reason, and debate this matter with the gravity that becomes the importance of the subject. But, since the gentlemen who own no obligations of religion for the rule of behaviour, set up in its stead a spurious principle, which they call honour, and a greatness of mind, that will not descend to a mean or base action; let them reflect, whether that term, as they use it, is not an empty sound, without any determined meaning. If honour lays a man under any obligation to perform or forbear any action, then, it is evident, honour is a law or rule, and the transgression of it makes us guilty and obnoxious to punishment: and if it be a law, it must be the declaration of some legislator's will ; for this is the definition of a law that regulates the manners of a moral agent. Now, I ask a man of honour, who denies religion, what, or whose law he breaks, if he deviates from what he imagines a point of honour? It is plain there can be no transgression, where there is no law; no irregularity where there is no rule; nor can a man do a base or dishonourable thing, if he lics under no obligation to the contrary. Honour, therefore, abstracted from the notion of resigion, which enjoins it, is as

Mile chimera, which can have little power over any man that does not believe a Divine Legislator, whose authority must enforce it. It is the same with friendship and gratitude, which are principles that the atheist will often commend. But how is any man bound to be grateful, or to be a friend? Should he act a contrary part, and be treacherous and ungrateful, what guilt has he contracted? Has he offended against any law or can he become guilty, without the breach of any If you say he has broken any law, tell us the law, and by whom it was made. If the laws of the Supreme Being are set aside, we can lie under no regulation, but have an unbounded liberty over all our actions; we may, without the least fault or dishonour, break our oaths, subvert the government, betray our friends, assassinate our parents; in short, commit all kinds of the most detestable crimes without remorse; for, not being controlled by any obligation, we may do whatever our passions or our interests prompt us to, without being accountable to any tribunal for the least transgression. If it be said, we are obliged by the laws of our country; I answer, that, as to the actions we are speaking of, such as a man of honour, a great and generous mind, a friend, a grateful person, is *upposed to think himself obliged to, these are such as are not regulated by municipal laws, and therefore men are at liberty whether they will act by what they call a principle of honour or not, and can justly incur no censure or reproach, should they have no regard to that pompous and sounding word; for if their actions are not morally determined either by human or divine laws, they may very justly, and honourably too, act with unlimited freedom in these matters. Besides, whoever believes himself free from the obligations of divine precepts, cannot look on himself as bound by any human laws. He may, indeed, from the apprehension of punishment, forbear an action thus forbidden, and it is his interest so to do; but, if he thinks no divine authority makes it his duty to submit to the magistrate, and obey the laws of his country, he is at liberty, as to any guilt, whether he will obey or no. If he ventures the punishment, he escapes the sin. If an atheist swears fidelity to his prince, what controlling power is he under, which affects the mind, not to betray him, if he thinks it fit and safe to do it? If he lets his parents, or his patron, or his friend perish, what iniquity is he accountable for 2 The existence of a God has been already cleared, and abundantly demonstrated, by many pious and learned authors; whence this attempt may be censured as impertinent and unnecessary. But all those excellent performances being writ in prose, and the greatest part in the learned languages, or at least in a scholastic manner, are ill-accommodated to great numbers not of a learned education; and many, who have more knowledge, and greater genius, will not undergo the trouble of reading and considering the arguments express, d in a manner to them obscure, dry, and disagreeable, I have therefore formed a poem on this great and important subject, that I might give it the advantages peculiar to poetry, and adapt it more to the general apprehension and capacity of mankind. The harmony of numbers engages many to read and retain what they would neglect if written in prose; and I persuade myself the Epicurean philosophy had not lived so long, nor been so much esteemed, had it not been kept alive and propagated by the famous poem of Lucretius. I have chosen to demonstrate the existence of a God from the marks of wisdom, design, con." trivance, and the choice of ends and means, which appear in the universe. Out of the various arguments that evince the truth of this proposition, There is a God, I have selected this as the most evident and intelligible. -> I may with reason presume, that I shall not incur any censure for not employing new arguments to prove the being of a God; none but what have been produced before by many writers, even from the eldest days of philosophy. It was never objected to Lucretius, that, in his applauded poem, he has not invented a new system of philosophy, but only recited, in poetical numbers, the ancient doctrines of Democritus and Epicurus. Nor can it with reason be supposed, that the arguments by which he supports their opinions were not long before in the schools of Greece. Nor have modern writers on this subject invented, but pursued, the demonstration of a God, from the evident appearance of contrivance and wisdom in the visible world, which they have done with more clearness and strength, than those who went before them. And while these have attempted to evince the existence \ of a God only from the contemplation of corporeal nature, I have carried the argument on to the actions of living, sensitive, and intelligent beings, so far as we are acquainted with them; believing that brighter and more noble strokes of wisdom and design appear in the principles of life, sensation, and reason, than in all the compass of the material world. s I have endeavoured to give the subject yet greater degrees of perspicuity, more variety of argument, as well as easy and familiar expression, that, the style being more pleasing, and the demonstration inore readily apprehended, it may leave a deeper impression, and its effects and usefulness may become more extensive. In order to this, I have rarely used any term of art, or any phrase peculiar to the writing and conversation of learned men. I have attempted, as Monsieur Fontenelle has done, with great success, in his Plurality of Worlds, to bring philosophy out of the secret recesses of the schools, and strip it of its uncouth and mysterious dress, that it may become agreeable, and admitted to a general conversation. I take it for granted, that no judicious reader will expect, in the philosophical and argumentative parts of this poem, the ornaments of poetical eloquence. In this case, where metaphor and description are not admitted, lest they should darken and enfeeble the argument, if the reasoning be elose, strong, and easily apprehended ; if there be an elegant simplicity, purity, and propriety of words, and a just order and connection of the parts, mutually supporting and enlightening one another, there will be all the perfection which the style can demand. I may safely conclude, that no man will expect that, in this poem, I should borrow any embellishments from the exploded and obsolete theology of the ancient idolaters of Greece or Rome; that I should address any rapturous invocations to their idle deities, or adorn the style with allusions to their fabulous actions. I have more than once publicly declared my opinion, that a Christian poet cannot but appear monstrous and ridiculous in a Pagan dress; that though it should be granted, that the Heathen religion might be allowed a place in light and loose songs, mock heroic, and the lower lyric compositions; yet, in Christian poems of the sublime and greater kind, the mixture of the Pagan thcology must, by all who are masters of reflection and good sense, be condemned, if not as impious, at least as impertinent and absurd. And this is a truth so clear and evident, that I make no doubt it will, by degrees, force its way, and prevail over the contrary practice. Should Britons recover their virtue, and reform their taste, they would no more bear the Heathen religion in verse, than in prose. Christian poets, as well as Christian preachers, the business of both being to instruct the people, though the last only are wholly appropriated to it, should endeavour to confirm and spread their own true religion. If a divine should begin his sermon with a solemn prayer to Bacchus, or Apollo, to Mars, or Venus, what would the people think of their preacher And is it not as really, though not equally, absurd, for a poet, in a great and serious poem, wherein he celebrates some wonderful and happy event of Divine Providence, or magnifies the illustrious instrument that was honoured to bring the event about, to address his prayer to false deities, and cry for help to the abominations of the Heathen 2 The design of this poem is to demonstrate the self-existence of an Fternal Mind from the created and dependent existence of the universe, and to confute the hypothesis of the Epicureans and the Fatalists, under whom all the patrons of impiety, ancient or modern, of whatsoever denomination, may be ranged. The first of whom affirm the world was in time caused by chance; and the other, that it existed from eternity without a cause. It is true, as before mentioned, both these acknowledged the existence of gods; but, by their absurd and ridiculous description of them, it is plain they had nothing else in view, but to avoid the obnoxious character of atheistical philosophers. This likewise has been often objected to the deists of the present times, that at least a great part of them only conceal their notions under that name, while they are really to be numbered among the atheists. I have before expressed my reasons, why I cannot embrace this opinion. It is true, indeed, that most of the deists maintain a particular friendship with the atheists, are pleased with their loose and impious conversation, and appear very tender of their credit and esteem. They are charitable in crying up their shining qualitics, and in concealing, excusing, or lessening, their immoral actions; while, at the same time, they show an affectation in exposing the faults and follies of the Christians, especially those who are the most strict and regular in their manners, and appear to be most in earnest. It is likewise remarkable, that these gentlemen express no zeal for the extirpation of irreligious principles: they have never, as far as I know, written any thing against them ; nor are they pleased in company to declare their detestation of such impious maxims, or to produce arguments to confute them ; while, at the same time, they take great pains, and show a warm zeal, to weaken the belief of the Christian religion, and to expose the pretended errours of its different professors; which seems, indeed, strange, since he that owns a God and his providence, should in reason look upon those who believe neither to be infinitely more opposite to him, than those who agree with him in the belief of a God, and differ only in the point of revealed religion. Besides, it is observable, that the present deists have not drawn and published any scheme of religion, or catalogues of the duties they are obliged to perform, or whence such obligations arise, They do not tell us, that they look on man as an accountable creature; nor, if they do, for what, and to whom, or when, that account is to be made, and what rewards and punishments will attend it. I do not affirm they have no such scheme in their thoughts; but, since they will not let us know their creed, and in the mean time deride and triumph over that of the Christians, I cannot defend them from those who say they are justly to be suspected. And that the deist may clear himself from the suspicion of being an atheist, or at least a friend and favourer of their principles, I could wish he would in public assert and demonstrate the being of a God and his providence, and declare his abhorrence of the principles of those who disbelieve them. It would likewise give great satisfaction, and remove the objections of those that charge them with direct irreligion, if they would please to give some account of their belief: Whether they look upon God as one who governs mankind by laws to be discovered by the light of reason, which restrain our inclinations and determine our duty; that they would tell us what those laws are, and what sanctions do enforce them; and until this be done, they cannot well discharge themselves from the suspicion before-mentioned. And here I would address myself to the irreligious gentlemen of the age: and I desire them not to take up prejudices against the existence of a God, and run away with impious maxims, until they have exercised their consideration, and made an impartial inquiry into the grounds and reasons that support the belief of a Divine Eternal Being. In order to such a reasonable examination, it is but just and decent they should be in earnest, and hear the arguments we offer with temper and patience; that they should inure themselves to think, and weigh the force of those arguments, as becomes sincere inquirers after truth. The being of a God, and the duties that result from that principle, are subjects of the greatest excellence and dignity in themselves, and of the greatest concern and importance to mankind; and, therefore, should never be treated in mirth and ridicule. Generals of armies and counsellors of state, senators, and judges, in the great and weighty affairs that come before them, do not put on the air of jesters and buffoons, and, instead of grave and solemn debates, aim at nothing but sallies of wit, and treat their subjects and one another only with raillery and derision; yet the business proposed to the consideration of the persons I speak to is, in every respect, infinitely superior to any of theirs before-mentioned. Are they sure there is no God, and therefore no religion? If they are not, what a terrible risk do they run! If their reasons amount only to a probability, the contrary opinion may be true, and that may be is enough to give them the most frightful apprehensions, and disturb them amidst all the pleasures they enjoy. But if they say they are assured, and past doubt, there is no God; let them consider, confidence in an opinion is not always the effect of certainty and demonstration. Their predecessors, the atheists of former ages, were as certain, that is, as confident, they reasoned right, as they can be. They cannot pretend to clearer light, and greater assurance of the truth of their maxims, than Epicurus and Lucretius did; or insult their adversaries with greater contempt, than those have done: yet these men themselves, at least many of them, allow those philosophers were grossly mistaken, and will by no means trust to the Epicurean scheme, as the foundation of their opinions. If these great masters, notwithstanding their unexampled confidence, have been mistaken, why may not their successors be so? If they set up Aristotle's scheme, and think they secure their principles by making the world to be eternal, and all effects and events the result of such a fatal necessity, and an indissoluble concatenation of causes, as render it impossible, that things that are should not be, or that they should be otherwise than they are; let them consider, that the greatest assertors of impiety, I mean Democritus, Leucippus, Epicurus, and Lucretius, opposed this as an idle and incoherent system; and that indeed it is so, shall be after demonstrated: and should not this shake their confidence, that all their friends in the Epicurean schools, who were sufficiently delivered from the prejudices of education and superstitious impressions, could not see the least probability in the scheme of the fatalists, on which these gentlemen are pleased to rely in a matter of the highest importance? Will they confide in Mr. Hobbes? Has that philosopher said any thing new Does he bring any stronger forces into the field than the Epicureans did before him Will they derive their certainty from Spinosa 2 Can such an obscure, perplexed, unintelligible author, create such certainty as leaves no doubt or distrust? If he is indeed to be understood, what does he allege more than the ancient fatalists have done, that should amount to demonstration 2 Besides, 'if, as they pretend, they are established, beyond possibility of deception, in the truth of their maxims, why are they so very fond of those authors that set up any new doctrine And why do they embrace, with so much pleasure, their uew schemes of irreligion? They are very glad 1 to hear of any great genius, that can invent fresh arguments to strengthen their opinions; and does not this betray a secret diffidence, that demands further light and consirination? But further: since these gentlemen show so much industry in propagating their opinions, and are so fond of making proselytes to atheism; since they effect a zeal in countenancing, applauding, and preferring, those whom they have delivered from religious prejudices, and reformed and refined with their free, large, and generous principles; how comes it pass, that they neglect to inform and improve their nearest relations Are they careful to instruct their wives and daughters, that they need not revere the imaginary phantom of a God; that religion is the creature of a timorous and superstitious mind, or of crafty priests, and cunning politicians; that therefore they are free from all restraints of virtue and conscience, and may prostitute their persons in the most licentious manner, without any remorse, or uneasy reflection; that it is idle to fear any Divine punishment hereafter; and as to the shame and dishonour that may attend the liberties they take, in case they become public, that scandal proceeds from the gross mistakes of people perverted with religion, and misguided by a belief of a Divine Being, and of rewards and punishments in an imaginary life after this 2 Do they take pains to inform their eldest sons, that they owe them no gratitude or obedience; that they may use an uncontrolled freedom in indulging all their appetites, passions, and inclinations; that, if they are willing to possess their father's honour and estate, they may, by poison or the poniard, take away his life; and, if they are careful to avoid the punishment of the magistrate, by their secret conduct, they may be fully satisfied of the innocence of the action; and as they have done themselves much good, so they have done their father no injury, and therefore may enjoy in perfect tranquillity the fruits of their parricide? Whatever they may affirm among their loose friends, I cannot conceive they can be guilty of so much folly, as to propagate these opinions in their own families, and instruct their wives and children in the boundless liberties, which, by the principles of atheism, are their undoubted right; for in all actions, where religion does not interpose and restrain us, we are perfectly, as has been said, free to act as we think best for our profit and pleasure. Besides, to what a deplorable condition would mankind be reduced, should these opinions be universally embraced If so many kings and potentates, who yet profess their belief of a God, and of rewards and punishments in a life to come, do, notwithstanding, from boundless anbition and a cruel temper, oppress their subjects at home, and ravage and destroy their neighbours abroad, should think themselves free from all Divine obligations, and therefore, too, from the restraints of oaths and solemn contracts: these fences and securities removed, what a deluge of calamities would break in upon the world ! what oppression, what violence, what rapine, what devastation, would sinish the ruin of human nature | For, if mighty princes are satisfied that it is impossible for them to do any wrong, what bounds are left to insatiable avarice and exorbitant thirst of power! If monarchs may, without the least guilt, violate their treaties, break their vows, betray their friends, and sacrifice their truth and honour, at pleasure, to their passions, or their interest, what trust, what confidence, could be supported between neighbour potentates aud, without this, what confusion and distraction must of necessity ensue ! On the other hand, if subjects were universally atheists, and looked on themselves as under no Divine obligation to pay any duty or obedience to the supreme magistrate; if they believed, that, when they took their oaths of allegiance, they swore by nothing, and invocated a power not in being; that, therefore, those oaths oblige them no longer than they think it safe, and for their interest, to break them; should such principles obtain, would not the thrones of princes be most precarious * Would not ambition, revenge, resentinent, or interest, continually excite sone or other to betray or assault the lives of their sovereigns And why should they be blamed by the atheists for doing it Why are traitors, assassins, haters of their princes, and enemies to their country, branded with the odious names of ruffians and villains, if they lie under no obligations to act otherwise than they do? Should conspirators, who assassinate their lawful sovereign, have the good fortune to make their escape, I ask the atheist, if he has, in the least, an ill opinion of then for being engaged in such an execrable undertaking 2 If he says he has not, then the point is gained, and an atheist is what I have represented. If he says he has, I next ask him, Why? Let him tell me in what their guilt consists? Is it in the breach of any Divine law That cannot be, for he owns none. Is it the transgression of any human law Tell me what obligation he is under to obey any human law, if no Divine law enforces such obedience. Does their guilt consist in the breach of their duty to their prince and their oaths of allegiance 2 Still the same question recurs, What duty can a subject owe to a prince which

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