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SE C T I O N II. .
Concerning a DEITY.
HAT there is a Deity or governing mind, who gave being to all things
external to himself, and who exists by, or from, an absolute necessity, in the nature of things, is, to me, most evident and plain. Through the whole frame of nature, as far as it comes within our notice, there appears to be design in every part, each part being directed to answer fome end. This is most apparent in the frame and texture of every animal, each part of every individual being directed to answer some purpose. Now, to suppose design, without a designer, or a designing mind to be the ground and foundation of that design, appears to be very absurd ; and, therefore, is not to be admitted. And tho there may arise difficulties that are not easily solved, upon the supposition of a Deity, which difficulties Atheism may be supposed to be grounded upon ; yet these, I think, are by no means equal to the difficulty, or rather, the absurdity and impossibility abovementioned, viz. that great art and design may take place, without an artist or desgner to betheground and foundation thereof; and, therefore, I think, atheism, in point of argument, is insupportable. Whoever takes a close view of the human frame and constitution, and, from thence, observes with what art and skill every part is contrived, and directed to answer fome end; how the bones and muscles, the nerves, the veins, the arteries, and all the other parts of the composition are contrived, and dirposed, in order to constitute, and continue in being, for a time, that master-piece of art called man ; (not but this argument must of necessity suffer, through my inability to handle it fully, and give it * it's due weight); I say, whoever thus takes a view of the human frame and constitution, together with the other various parts of nature, must, I think, be convinced, that the present constitution of things is the produce of some artift, or skilful contriver, and that it could
thich * See this argument more fully handled, in Mr. Abernethy's discourse, concerning the being, and natural perfections, of God.
not be the effect of meer accident ; and there. fore, whatever difficulties may take place, which cannot easily be solved upon the supposition of a Deity ; yet those difficulties do not weaken, much less destroy, the grounds upon
which that supposition is built. And, as the whole frame of nature bespeaks deJagn, so that design plainly bespeaks the most perfe&t intelligence, goodness, and unlimited power to take place in the designer ; because any thing short of this would not be sufficient to answer that design. When we take a survey of this visible world, and carefully observe the curiousness, and the multiplicity of its parts; and how each part is excellently disposed to answer the end to which it seems, at least, to be directed; together with the amazing greatness, and the prodigious extent of the whole ; and how it is well adapted to answer the purpose of a general good; we can scarce avoid drawing this conclusion, from the reflection, viz, that the most perfeet intelligence, goodness, and boundless power does most certainly take place in the founder of it. And, as the founder of this world could not possibly give being to himSelf, the supposition being absurd; fo he must exist, either from an absolute necessity
in the nature of things, or else be the produce of some external cause. If the former be the case, then the founder of this world is that being, who is usually characterised by those terms, supreme Deity. If the latter be the case, then we must look back to a cause, that exists independent of every thing external to itself, and consequently that exists necesarily; which necessarily existing being, as he is the original and primary cause of every thing external to himself, so he is that fupreme Deity, which is the subject of our present enquiry. By existing necesfarily, or by an absolute necessity in the nature of things, I mean, that the Deity cannot possibly be otherwise than what he is, nor can he do otherwise but exist; that his existence, and his being what he is, as to all his natural powers, do not depend upon accident, nor design; do not depend upon himself, nor upon any thing external to himfelf; that he did not give being to himself, nor make himself to be what he is, nor can he possibly annihilate himself, nor make himself to be otherwise than what he is ; and therefore, he must exist necesarily, or, of necessity, he must and will exist.
If it should be asked, whether it be not equally as hard and difficult, to admit the supposition, that a designing mind has existed eternally, independent of any external caufe ; as to admit that design has taken place, independent of a designing mind ? Answer : admitting a difficulty to attend each supposition ; yet, I think, the former is by no means equal to the latter. For, as of necessity fomething must have existed eternally, because, otherwise not any thing could have existed at all; so it is more easy and natural to suppose, that what has existed eternally is a designing mind, than to suppose the contrary; because, upon the former supposition, there is a fair and clear account of all that design, which appears to take place in the universe; whereas, upon the latter supposition, all that design remains to be accounted for. Suppose unintelligent matter to have existed eternally; yet that could not of itself have been productive of design, without a designing mind. Unintelligent matter could not have disposed of itself to answer any purpose, much less to answer those great and noble designs, which plainly appear to take place in nature : whereas, if a designing mind has always exM