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wrath os- God is plainly revealed from heaven against all ungodliness -and unrighteousness of men? The truths of the gospel are so very clear and powerful, and such an improvement of natural light, that men must use great force and violence to suppress them,' and. to hinder the efficacy of them upon their lives. And this is a certain rule, by how much the greater our knowledge, by so much the less is our excuse, and so much the greater punishment is due to our faults. So our Lord hath told us, Luke xii. 47. That servant -which knew his Lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many strifes. And John ix. 41. If ye were blind, ( fays our Saviour to the Jews ) ye should have no fin. So much ignorance as there is of our duty,so much abatement of the wtlfulness of our faults; but J/ we fin wilfully, aster we. have received the knowledge os the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for fin, but a fearful expectation of judgment and fiery indignation, fays the Apostle to the Hebrews, chap. x. 26. 27. If we fin wilfullyafter we have received the knowledge of the truth; implying that men cannot pretend ignorance for their foults, after so clear a revelation of the will of God, as is made to mankind by the gospel.'
And upon this consideration it is, that our Saviour doth so Aggravate the impenitency and unbelief of. the Jews, because it was in opposition to all the advantages of knowledge, which can be imagined to be afforded to mankind, John xv. 22. 23. 24. If I had' not come and spoken unto them, they had not had fin; that is, in comparison their fin had been much more excusable; but now they have no cloak for their fin. He thathateth me, hat et h my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had fin; but now hawe they both seen and hated both me and my Father. How is that? Our Saviour means, that they had now sinned against all the advantages of knowing the will of God, that mankind could possibly have: At once opposing natural light', which was the dispensation Of the Father; and the clearest revelation of God's Vol. V. H h will will, in the dispensation of the gospel by his Son; now have they both seen and hated both me and my father.
The two remaining observations I shall reserve to another opportunity.
The danger of all known sin, both from the light os nature and revelation.
Hon. i. 18, 19, For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may be known of God is manifest in them, for God hath shewed it unto them.
The second sermon on this text.
IHave handled four of the observations which I raised from these words, and shall now proceed to the other two that remain. The fifth observation was, that the natural knowledge which men have of God, if they live contrary to it, is a sufficient evidence of their holding the truth of God in unrighteousness. For the reason why the Apostle chargeth them with this, is, because that which may be known of God is manifest, in that God hath shewed it unto them.
There is a natural knowledge of God, and of the duty we owe to him, which the Apostle calls To yvuroi' rou Qtov, that of God which is obvious to be known by the light of nature, and is as much as is absolutely necessary for us to know. There is something of Cod that is incomprehensible, and beyond the reach of our understandings ; but his being and essential perfections may be known, which he calls his eternal fowtr and godhead ; these be tells us arc dearly seen, being understood by the things which ate made i that is, the creation of the world is a plain demonstration to men, of the being and power of God i and if so, then God it naturally known to men; the contrary whereof Socinus positively maintains, tho* therein he be forsaken by most of his followers ; att opinion in my judgment, very unworthy of one, who not without reason, was esteemed so great a master-of reason ; and (though I believe he aid not fee it) undermining the strongest and surest foundation of all religion, which, when the natural notions of God are once taken away, will certainly want its best support. Besides that by denying any natural knowledge of God, and his essential perfections, he freely gives away one of the most plausible grounds of opposing the doctrine of the Trinity. But oecause this is a matter of great consequence, and he was a
treat man, and is not to be confuted by contempt, ut by better reason, if it can be found; I will consider his reasons for this opinion, and return a particular answer to them.
First, He fays that if the knowledge of God were natural, it would not be of faith; but the Apostle fays, that we must believf that he is. The force of which argument, if it have any, lies !n this, that the object of faith is divine revelation, and therefore we cannot be said to believe what we naturally know. The schoolmen indeed say so ; but the scripture useth the word faith more largely, for a real persuasion of any thing, whether grounded upon fense, or reason, or divine revelation. And our Saviour's speech to Thomas, Because thou hast seen, thou hast believed, does sufficiently intimate, that a man may believe What he sees ; and if so, what should hinder, but that a man may be said to believe what he naturally knows ; that is, be really persuaded that there is a God from natural light >
Secondly, His next argument is, because the same Apostle concludes Enoch to have believed God, because he pleased God, and without faith it is impossible to please him: From whence he says, it iscertain that men may be without this belief, which if it be Natural they cannot. Indeed if the Apostle tad said, that whoever believes a God, must of necessity obey and please him, then the inference had been good, that all men do not naturally believe a God, "because it is certain they do not please-him: Jut it is not good the other way, no more than if a man should argue thus, that because whoever acts reasonably, must be endowed with reason, therefore men are not naturally endowed with reason. For as men may naturally be endowed with reason, and yet not always make use of it ; so men may naturally knew and believe a God, and yet not be careful to please him.
His third argument is, that the scripture fays, that there are some that do not believe a God, for which he cites that of David, The fool hath said in his heart there is no God ; which certainly proves that bad men live so, as if they believed there were no God; nay, it may farther import, that they endeavour as much as they can, to stifle and extinguish the belief of a God in their minds, and would gladly persuade themselves there is no God, because it is convenient for them there should be none ; and whether David meant so or not, it is very probable that some may arrive to that height of impiety, as for a time at least, and in seme moods, to disbelieve a God, and to be very confident of the arguments on that lide. But what then ? Is the knowledge and belief of a God therefore not natural to mankind ? Nature itself, as constant and uniform as it is, admits of some irregularities and exceptions, in effects that are merely natural, much more in those which have something in them that is voluntary, and depends upon the good or bad use of our reason and understanding ; and there is no arguing from what is monstrous, against what is natural. It is natural for men to have five fingers upon a hand, and yet some are born .otherwise : but in voluntary agents, that which is natural may be perverted, and in a great measure extinguish-e.d in some particular instances ; lo that there is np force at all in this objection. 1 - - ^ ;
His fourth and last argument is, that there have.
not only been particular persons, but whole nations Who have had no fense, nor so much as suspicion of a Deity. This I confess were of great force, if itwere true ; and for the proof of this, he producethi the instance of Brasil in America. But I utterly deny the matter of fact and history, and challenge any mart- to bring good testimony, not only of any nation, but of any city in the world; that evecwere professed Atheists.
I know this was affirmed' of some- part of' Brasil„ by some of the first discoverers, who yet at the fame time owned, that these very people did most expresly believe the immortality of the foul, and the rewards and punishments of another life; opinions which no man can. well reconcile with the denial and, disbelief of a Deity. But to put an end to this argument, later and more perfect discoveries have found' this not to be true, and do assure us upon better ac
are deeply possessed with the belief of one supreme Cod, who made and' governs the world.
Having thus given a particular answer to- Socinus his arguments against the natural knowledge of aGod, I will' now briefly offer some arguments for if. And to prove that tne knowledge and belief of a. God is natural tb mankind, my
First argument shall be from the universal consent, in this matter, of all nations in all ages. And this is an Argument of great force, there- being nobetter way to prove any thing to be natural to any kind of being, than if it be generally found in the whole kind. Omnium consensus natun tiox.efi,.u-the "consent of ail is the voice of nature, faith Tully." And indeed by what other argument can we prove that reason, and speech, and an inclination to society are natural to men ; but that these belong to tha? whole kind'?
Secondly, Unless the knowledge of God' and' his; essential perfections be natural, I do not fee whatsufficient and certain foundation' there can be of revealed religion. For unless1 we naturally know God
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