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William Nicholls.

A Conference with a Theist : containing an answer to all the most usual objections of the infidels against the Christian religion ... (Volume 1) online

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againfl the Conti'adidions of all Mankind ; and Smgu-
Urity fliould be fo far from difcouraging me, th^t I

B 5 would



A Conference

would profefs the Dodrine of the Crofs by my felF
alone againft the whole Infidel World. As for your
Difcouriing upon this Subjed, it is fo far from being
ungrateful to me, that I think it the greatefl Comfort
and Happinefs I can enjoy ; to run over thofe blefTed
Truths, which are the Comfort of my Life, and the
Hopes of my Salvation ; nay, I can eafily hear what
Objedions you have to raife againft them, if fo be you
will be pleafed to urge them with Modefly, or with a
Defign to receive Satisfadion ; but I have no Patience
to hear you only expofe and ridicule thofe Dodrines,
whilft you are fefolved never to be convinced of their
Truth.

ThiL I might very well deferve this Reprimand of
yours, if I Hiould pretend to laugh at that Religion I did
believe , but I muft needs tell you, as far as my Creed goes,
J am a very ftrong and orthodox Believer, and a very
flrid Obferver of \i, I only laught at fome other filly
Opinions, which I fanfy the reft of the World are gull'd
with ; and why lliould not I laugh at them, as well as
they laugh at me \ They call m.e Atheift, and make me
their Fool, and I call them Bigots and give them the
lame Livery. I have as much Refpedl, Sir, for Natural
Religion, as you can have for the Chriftian, and I hope
if I live up to that, to be as happy hereafter ; therefore I
prefume I m.ay make bold to be merry a little with your
Religion, as your Gentlemen are with mine. I am fure
mine is of the ancienter Houfe ; and Natttrd Religion
is God's Law moil certainly, whether your Revealed ovi^-^
as you call it, be fo or no. So that if I do not believe
your Tenets, why lliould not I make as much Sport
with you, as you do with the Moon in Mahomet's
Sleeve \

Cred. I confefs I never liked making Sport with

any Man's Religion, for it is not only a piece of Rude-

toTe^'oflij^^^^'^ but a very inhuman Cruelty ,* for it fets a Man's

^ ' Soul upon the Rack, to fse that ridiculed, which he

accounts moil iacred. And perhaps that Precept in

the Mofaick Law, Tho:f fiak r:or fpea!^ evil of the Gods of

the



iho" erro
'deotUi ncii;



^ith (^ T H E I S T.

$he People^ is to be underflood in this Senfe. For wKea
the Jews were going into a ilrange Country, it was the
moll probable Way to gain Profeiytes to their Law, ra-
ther to demonftrate the Truth of their own, than to rail
at the Heathens Religion. Suppofe that I was about to
convert a Turk at Conflantinopley can you think it was the
moft prudent Way to railly upon Mahomet's Peafe and his
Pidgeon, and his falling; Sicknefs ? I'll warrant you, I
fhould catch a Tartar inftead of converting a Turk : 'Tis
ten to one, but the outrageous Infidel revenged his Pror
phet's Quarrel with his Scimetar; fo that I fhould make
my felf a Martyr, inflead of making him a Convert.

Phil. I beg your Pardon heartily, if I have fpoken my
Thoughts a little too freely upon this Subjed, for I will
afTure you I did not in the leafl defign to offend you ;
my only Aim was to perfue the Tmth, and to hear what
you can lay upon this Subjed, wherein I promife my
felf a great deal of Satisfadion ; for then I am fure I fhall
hear no common-place Talk, but fomething new and lb-
lid of your own Stock. If you are convinced of the
Truth of the Chfiflian Religion, I am certain it is up-
on ftrong Arguments and weighty Grounds ; for as you
are too wife to be impofed upon by Fallacy, fo you arq
too honeft to be byaOed by Intereil ; therefore I may
cxped: to hear fomething more conliderable fi-om you,
than from the Parfons, who are too well paid for
making Speeches upon this Subjed, to be impartial
in it. But I proteft. Sir, I am no hardy relblved In-
fidel, nor fuch an one that has nothing to fay againft
Chriftianity, but only to call it Names ; for I have (o
many conliderable Objedions to urge againfl: it, that I
mull: needs fufpend my Faith 'till I can fee them anlwer-
ed. Nor are thefe my Objedions only levelled againft
a v/ord or two in the Bible, or fome few feeming Con-
tradidions, which may perhaps be accounted for by dif-
ferent Acceptations, and Variety of Tranfcribers ; but a-
gainfl the whole Compafs and Tenor of Chriftianity,
which all feems to be contradidious and contrary to
i^eafon. For as far as ever I could perceive, Chriftiani-?

S 4 ty



8 * A Conference

ty feemM to confift, or at leaft was bottomed upon the
The Vm-ti- Truth of thefe Particulars, i. The Account of the Crea^
theConk^ ^'^^ 2^/?/
that he makes the World to begin but between five and
fix Thoufand years ago , when it is demonftrable it has
continued fixm all Eternity. And this has been the
Do6trine of the wifeft Philofophers heretofore. For to
omit Arijiotle and others of later Date, I find Ocellm Luca"
nm *, who was almoft contemporary with Mofesy if not
before him, to have been of this Opinion ; and he is fb
admirable a Philofopher, that in a Queftion of this Nature,
I would take his Word before that of the Jewifh Law-
giver. But his Book of the Nature of the Vniverfe^ which
is ftill extant, gives us fo many demonftrative Arguments
of the Truth of this Opinion, that we need go no far-
ther than that excellent Treatife to confute the Hiftory
of the Creation.

Cred. But before you proceed, give me Leave to re-
mind you of a very great Errour, in alTerting, that Ocellas^
the Author of that Treatife, was precedent, or any thing
nigh Co-temporary with Mofes. But fuppofing that
Treatife to be wrote by Ocellm Lucanm^ that ancient Vy-
thagorean, there was no lefs than eleven hundred Years Di-
ilance between his Writing and Mofes s. For fay that
Mofes wrote ten Years after the Jfraelites coming out of
EgjPty which was An, Mundiy 2470. the Book of th^

^ Oracles pf Reafbn, />, 21(5,

Creatioa



"vuith ^Theist. Ij

Creation will then be wrote u4». Mmdiy 2480 ; but I
will make it appear that Ocellm Lucmm^ wrote but much
about the Year of the World 3580. which is eleven hun-
dred Years later. Now Ocellm Lucmm lived much about
she Time when VUto wrote, or perhaps a little before, be-
ing both Co-temporaries, but Ocellm the elder Man. For
fUto^ School was in its moft flourifhing Condition in the
102 Olympiad^ when he was about fifty Years old, but he
was born (as * LaerttHs informs us from ^pollodonu\
Chronicks) in the 88f/? Olympiad (L e. ) about An^
Mundi^ 3 52 5 ,• and it is as plain that Ocellus lived much
about the fame Time. For Laertim in the Life than thofe which we are ufed to. But
I pray, is not this as unreafonable, as for a blind Man
to deny, that any one can perceive Colours, becaufe he
cannot pofTibly conceive, how they fliould be diftin-
guilli'd ? And if there be other good Arguments to
prove, that God has created the World out of nothings
it is in vain to deny it ,- becaufe it is inconceivable by
us, or contrary to the Courfe of Nature, lince the Cre*
ation.

PhfL Well ! but what fiy you to Ocelli's * feconcJ
Argument ? If the World be made or produced, it muft
follow the Laws of other Produdions ; it muft grow
from worfe to better, from its iniirm Eftate to its cex/i/jf
t)r Vigour, and fo decline to its old Age and DilFolu-
tion. But we f nd that the World always was as it is
now ; there has never been the leafl: Decay in it, n6:
the leaft Improvement of its Perfedion ; it always (lands
at the fame Stay ; and fo always muft continue;

Cred, To this Argument, Sir, be pleafed to take this Anf. to
Anfwer. ifi. That it is a Thing fomewhat uncertain, Arg. IL
whether or no the World continues in the fame State
it was in at the beginning 5 moft learned Men for ma-
hy Ages have been of the contrary Opinion, that it .
grows Old, and doth every Day verge towards its final
Deftrudtion ; and Dr^ Hac^i^ell, who wrote his Book
bf Providence about Threefcore Years ago, was the firft
Man that had the Boldnefs to encounter with the re-
ceived Opinion, and he raifed himfelf not a fmall Num-



Online LibraryWilliam NichollsA Conference with a Theist : containing an answer to all the most usual objections of the infidels against the Christian religion ... (Volume 1) → online text (page 2 of 47)