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Α Ρ Ρ Ε Ν DI X
E have seen with what art, and care in cona
trivance, the Sages of the GENTILE World endeavoured, by the intervention of the MYSTERIES, to prevent the memory of THE FIRST CAUSE of all things from being totally obliterated from the minds of men; while the perverse constitution of the National Idolatries prevented the true God's being received into any PUBLIC Worship. To the Secret of the Mysteries it was, that these Pseudo-Evangelists invited their more capable Disciples, awfully admonishing them to give heed unto it, as unto a light shining in a dark place. For it was no more than such a glimmering, till the rising of the day-star of the Gospel, in the hearts of the Faithful.
But if the late noble Author of THE FIRST PHILO. SOPHY deserves credit; all this care was as absurd as it was fruitless.
The Institutors of the Mysteries imparted this SECRET, as the true and only solid foundation of RELIGION; for the FIRST CAUSE was, -in their ideas, a God whose ESSENCE indeed was incomprehensible, but his ATTRIBUTES, as well moral as natural, discoverable by human reason.
Such a God was wanted R 2
for that foundation: for unassisted reason taught them, as, in its most assisted state, it had taught St. Paul, That he who cometh to God, must believe that he is; and that he is a REWARDER of them who diligently seek him. Thus Plato, in his Book of Laws, speaking of Religion, and it's use to civil Society, says, “ It is
not of small consequence, that what we here reason " about the Gods, should, by all means and methods, “ be made probable; as that they are, and that they
are good *.” Hence, though their mistaken mode of teaching, deprived the pagan world of the fruit of the Doctrine, the purpose however was laudable and rational.
But now comes a modern Sage t-PHILOSOPHER and STATESMAN like the Ancient, in all things else how unlike!) who tells us “ that they made the Basis of Religion far too wide; that men have no further concern with God than TO BELIEVE THAT HE IS, which his physical Attributes make fully manifest; but, That he is a rewarder of them who diligently seek him, Religion doth not require us to believe, since this depends on God's MORAL ATTRIBUTES, of which we have no conception.". In this manner, by the turn of a hand, hath our Noble Philosopher changed Natural Religion into NATURALISM; and made this care of the ancient Sages as ridiculously conceived as it was ineffectually prosecuted.
But to do justice to the weak endeavours of those Friends and Servants of mankind, who surely deserve a grateful memory with Posterity, I shall take the liberty to examine his Lordship’s reasoning on this
ως θεόι το εισι, και αγαθού. + Lord Bolingbroke.
branch of his FIRST PHILOSOPHY; which casts so malignant a shade over the whole religious World.
He pretends to prove That we have NO ADEQUATE ideas of God's moral attributes, his GOODNESS and JUSTICE, as we have of his natural, his Wisdom and Power. Here let me observe, that his Lordship uses the words, inadequate ideas, and, no ideas, as terms of the same import. And I think, not improperly. I have therefore followed him in the different use of either expression. For the reason of his calling our ideas of God's moral attributes INADEQUATE, is, because he denies, that goodness and justice in God, and goodness and justice amongst Men, are the same IN KIND. But if not the same in kind, we can have NO IDEA of them; because we have no idea of any other kind of goodness and justice.
He lays down these three propositions :
1. That, by METAPHYSICS, or by reasoning à priori, we can gain no knowledge of God at all;
2. That our knowledge of his Attributes is to be acquired only by a contemplation on his Works, or by the reasoning a posteriori ;
3. That in this way, we can only arrive at the know ledge of his NATURAL Attributes, not of his MORAL.
“ It is from the CONSTITUTION OF THE WORLD
ALONE (says his Lordship) and from the state of “ mankind in it, that we can acquire any ideas of the “ divine attributes, or a right to affirm any thing about them *.”
The knowledge of the Creator is, on many ac" counts, necessary to such a creature as man: and
f? therefore we are made able to arrive by a proper “ exercise of our mental faculties, from a knowledge “ of God's works to a knowledge of his existence, and ¢ of that infinite POWER and WISDOM which are “ demonstrated to us in them. OUR KNOWLEDGE
coạceRNING GOD GOES NO FURTHER Y."
5. Artificial Theology connects by very problemati“ cal reasoning à priori
, MORAL ATTRIBUTES, such “ as we conceive them, and such as they are relatively
to us, with the physical attributes of God; though “ there be no sufficient foundation for this proceeding,
nay, though the phenomena are in several cases ré pugnant ti"
Having thus assured us that the ideas of God's moral attributes are to be got by no consequential reasoning at all, either à priori or à posteriori, the two only ways we have to knowledge; He rightly concludes, that if Man hath such ideas, they were not FOUND but INVENTED by him.' And therefore, that nothing might be wanting to the full dilucidation of this curious point, he acquaints us who were the Authors of the FICTION, and how strangely the thing came about.
“ Some of the Philosophers (says his Lordship) having been led by a more full and accurate contemplation of Nature to the knowledge of a supreme self-existent Being of infinite power and wisdom,
and the first Cause of all things, were not contenteď “ with this degree of knowledge. They MADE A “ System of God's MORAL as well as physical AT
TRIBUTES, BY WHICH TO ACCOUNT FOR THE " PROCEEDINGS OF HIS PROVIDÈNCET." • Vol. IV. p. 86. + Vol. V. p. 316. 1 Vol. IV. p. 48.
These These Philosophers then, it seems, invented the system of God's moral attributes, in order to account for the difficulties arising from the view of God's moral government. If the World till now had been so dull as to have no conception of these Attributes ; his Lordship’s Philosophers, we see, made amends; who were so quick-witted to conceive, and so sharp sighted to find out, the obliquities of a crooked line before they had got any idea of a straight one. For just to this, neither more nor less, dues his Lordship’s observation amount, that they made a System of God's moral attributes, by which to account for the proceedings of his Providence, 'Till now, none of us could conceive how any doubts concerning moral Go, vernment could arise but on the previous ideas of the moral attributes of the Governor. This invention of bis Lordshịp's old Philosophers puts me in mind of an ingenious Modern, the curious Sancho Pan, CHA; who, as his historian tells us, was very inquisitive to discover the author of that very useful invention we cal! SLEEP: for, with this worthy Magistrate, Sleep and good Cheer were the First Philoso:
Now the things sought after by Sancho and his Lordship, were at no great distance; for if Sleeping began when men first shut their eyes, it is certain the idea of God's Goodness appeared as soon as ever they opened them.
Dr. Clarke's Demonstration of the moral attributes à priori, I shall leave, as his Lordship is pleased to do, in all it's force. If the Doctor's followers think their Master's honour concerned, where his arguments are not, they have a large field and a safe to shew their prowess. I rather choose to undertake the NOBLE PHILOSOPHER on his own terms,