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

. (page 46 of 47)
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 46 of 47)
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Now whereas God is not obliged to fuperfede his na-
tural Laws, in miraculoufly making a Body well, which
tias made it felf fickly," fo the pafe istl^e fame in Relation

511 A Conference

to tliofe Lav/s and Methods cf Providence, which are
laid down as to Men's Souls. Vice can only naturally
throw the Body into Indifpolltioh till Death, but the
Soul being naturally Imrnortah mufl be eternally indif-
pofed by the fame Laws. 'Tis one Scheme of God's
Providence, that extravagant Intemperance iliall make
Men (ickly for a mortal Life \ and it is another provi-
dential Determination, that Vice, without a due Repen-
tance, lliall make Men miferable for an eternal Life. And
therefore, whereas the Order of Providence is, fuppofe^
for Illuftration fake, thus. That this World lliall continue
fixthoufand Years, and afterwards is to be burnt up, and to
continue for ever in Flames of Fire, which m.ay be, for
ought I know, the local Hell ; that Men, by living a
Courfe of Virtue, and by fquaring their Lives according
to the Rules of the Religion which God has prefcribed,
may get rid from the Miferies of this burning World, and
may be pofTeffed of a blifsfiil State in another; where is
the TnjufHce of God, if he does not miraculoufly alter
thefe Methods of his Providence, out of Tendernefs to
Men> who would not procure their own Happinefs, by
the ordinary Methods he prefcribed to them ? As God is
not obliged to alter the Lav/s of Sanity, to make the fickly
OVlan better, but that naturally he muft continue under
thofe Indifpofitions as long as he lives here ; fo neither
is God obliged to make an Alteration in this other provi-
dential Difpenfations of another Life; but the Soul muft
take its mofl: miferable Lot there, which by its own
Fault, it has plunged it felf into.

5. And as to what you fay as to God's Punifhment
only to make Men better; I do not take this to be any
Obje(5lion againfl an Eternity of Torments* For tho' God
does generally punifh Men in order to make them hettcr^
he does this only fo long, as they are capable of being
made better: For when they become incorrigible, this
End mud ceafe. Now, 'tis true, that in this World God
fends his Chaflifements Snd uiffliUions to this very purpofe,
thereby to make us better; becaufe this World is a State
of Trial or Probation^ but in the other Worlds the State

~~ of

Part IIL 'With aTHEisT. 515

of Things are changed, and the Time of Probation is
over; God has tried Men till they have plainly appeared
incorrigible, and that 'tis to no Purpofe to try them longer.

And therefore the End of his punilhing Men muft be
then, to difplay the infinite Integrity of Iiis Juftice and
Holinefs, and to fhew that it is contrary to the Rec-
titude of his JVamrey to let Sin go unpunifhed. Not
but that God*s Goodnefs and Mercy had a Share here
too; for, by this dreadful Punifliment of incorrigible Of-
fenders, he to all Eternity gives Examples of his Ven^
geance in punilhing Sin, and Rebellion againft God;
thereby to engage all his Creatures to a more hearty
Love of God, and to a more ready fulfilling his Will
for ever.

PhiL My lafl: Exception is againft your Chriftiail
Dodrine oi Heaven^ ^ where you tell us, that Men muft
be rewarded for their good Adions in a fine glorious?
Place, no Body knows where. But thefe are fond No-
tions fitted only for vulgar and mercenary People, who
will do no goU^ but when they are hired to it. But
the generoufly Virtuous are they, who are Virtuous for
Virtue's fake ; they who choofe to do good, becaufe it
is brave and ..honourable, and not becaufe they think
they fhall get by it. Therefore, methinks, our Deifl's
Religion is much prefcrrable to yours, becaufe it makes
Men Virtuous upon a more generous Principle, than
any that is to be found in your Religion, which en-
courages Men to Virtue only, in Hopes of being re*
warded for it.

Cred. There is nothing in the Chrijiian DoUrine of
Heaven^ and the Glories of another World, but what
is very fober and rational, and agreeable to the wifeft
Thought. We are taught by our Religion, thac
we fhall there enjoy eternal Life, which is but very con-
fonant to a State ofGlorji which a frail Mortality would
fully ; that we (hall be cloathed with ^ gloriom and in^

* Oracles of Rcafon, p. 122. SpinofeEth, par. f, prop. 42.

L 1 (orruptibli

514- ^ Conference

corrnptihle Body; whofe Principle fhall not be a livmg bf
animal Sotily but a qtiickening Spirity i Cor. xv. 45
& 49. {i.e.) not a living Soul wanting Nourifti-
ment as in this World ; but fuch a quickening Spirit as
fhall convey Life without being beholding to eating and
drinking for it. What wifer Defcription can there be
of a State of Glory, than to reprefent it a Vacancy from
all Pain and Diiratisfa(5tion5 When God JJmII wipe all Tears
from our EyeSy when there ffoall be no more Death or Sor"
row of Cryingy neither JJjall there be any more Pain, Rev.
xxi. 4. And that the Height of Fruition fhall be> in
the Vifioh of God ? Blejfed are the pure in Heart for they
fiall fee God, We JJmU fee him as he isy i Joh. iii, z*
This is a true rational Account of future Happinefs,
fuch as is worthy of God> and is not like the idle Dreams
of a Pagan Elyfium, or the Paradife of the ^Ichorany or
the Talmud.

But to fpeak a Word or two in Anfwer to your tax-
ing us with Want of Generofity, in doing good for
the Hopes of Heaven. Now, for my Part, I cannot fee
but that it is altogether as generous, to do good for
God's fake, as for Virtue's fake. For what is Virtue
abftraded from God and Religion, but only an empty
Name ? He that does good for God's fake, or becaufe
God has commanded him, does it mofl certainly for
Virtue's fake too ; that is, becaufe it is agreeable to the
trueft Reafon, for we are fure that God commands no-
thing but what is wife and good. Oh ! But we have
an Eye upon our own Happinefs likewife when we do
it, and therefore we do not do good for Virtue*s fake.
I can underftand nothing by your doing Good fbr
Virtue's fake^ but only the doing a Thing becaufe it is
wife and rational; now what can be more wife and ra-
tional, than in all our Adions to have an Eye to oiir
chief Good; which, if we negled, we aft neither wifely,
nor rationally? We aft wifely and rationally, when we
are charitable to our Neighbour, and are beneficent to our
Friends, becaufe our Reafon tells us, that we were not


Part III. with ^Theist. 515

born for our felves, but that we ought to contribute out*
AfTiftance, as far as we can, and do all poflible good in
our Generation.

And is it not likewife very wife and rational to pro-
vide for our own Happinefs too in another World, by
duly worfhiping God, and doing as he has commanded
us \ To ad only for the good of others, and defperate-
\y to negled ourfelves, is Madnefs and Folly, and not to
^d for Virtue's Sake, or agreeably to Reafpn. For the
trueft Reafon tells us, that we ought to confult our own
Happinefs, when it is not Prejudicial to others, and when
the defire of it does not degenerate into Selfijfhnefs, or a
vitious Self- Love. For Reafon' tells us , that God
has not implanted this Principle of Self-prefervation, or
Self-love, in us for nothings and therefore, we muft
conclude, that we ad very rationally, when we ad in
order to our own chief Happinefs, which can be in no
wife Prejudicial to thar of other Mens. Now this is
the truefl Way of virtuous or rational Adion, becaufe
it is to ad agreeable to the Reafon of God. But your
way of ading, according to Virtue or Reafon, as you
call it, is oftentimes according to Fancy, or the whim-
fical Reafoning of fome Opmiatorsy who are continu-
ally advancing new Hypothefes in Morditj*, as well as
in Phjficki^ ^^^ drawing new Schemes of Virtue or
Vice, as their Spleen direds them. This is not to
follow Reafon, or to ad for Virtue's fakej but *tis
to dance after all th^Ignes F^m of a fpeculative Brain.

But, after all, what is this great Pretence of thcfe
Set of Men to ad for Virtue's fake, which is fo
brave and generous? Why, it is only to do a repu-
table Adion to be admired and praifed, which is nothing
clfe but unregenerate Pride. Such Men will rarely
do a good Adion in the dark, which is like to come to
no one's Knowledge; or if they do, it is with fuch a fore
of inward Haughtinefs, as fpoils all the Goodnefs of it.

Therefore, pray FhtlologHSt leave off all thefe Hea-
then Principles) which are good for nothing* but to

L 1 & make


A Conference, )Sc\

make Men infolent and contemptuous; and learn to do
Good for God's fake , and your own SouFs fake ;
and this will make you better and happier, than a
few. empty glittering Notions of the Bravery of Vir-
tue, which the Philofophers of old, for lack of Reve-
lation, were forced to content themfelves with.

ThiL I am forry we cannot make an end of our
Conference this Morning, for Dinner-time comes on;
and I muft befpeak your Company, good Sir, to
take a Dilli of Meat with me to Day, and after Din-
ner we may difpatch that Part of ovar Difpute whi^h
remains behind.








UDE NESS and Danger of Athe*
ijlical Difcourfe. Page ^

Religion, tho erroneous^ not to he

fcoffed at, 6

7'be PartiGidlars of the Conference,


I'he Ground of Theifm, p

^nfrver to Oceilusj firfi Argument,

,/4nf)ver to Argnment ?.

Crc.ttion of the World not lih ordinary froduUions.
The Viffolmion^ not Peace-meal^ hut InjiantaneoHS,
Anfwer to Argument 3.
Anj^er to Argument 4.
T/j^ RidiculoHJneJs of maling the World God,,
God does not chmge hiwfelfhy new £,xhil^Uions^ lift hi^
frmnrcs hy hew Prodticiions, 2%

L i 3 ^H^.h



The Co NT E NTS.

Sfich Change of the Deity not voluntary . p. 25

Nor necejfary, ib,

Sficb a ChangeaUencJs contrary to the Attributes of GoL

^Jlnfpper to Argument 5. 26

iVo Conjlat of the Spherical nefs of the Vmverfe. 27

That no Argument of a perpetml Motion, ib.

Motion of Bodies f» Contignity^ mth Bodies not infinite.

Spherical nefs does not infer Infinity of Duration. 29

Arguments againft the Eternity of the World* 30

Arg» I. From the Nature of Futrification, ib.

Arg. 2. From the ftnking of Hills, 32

No nerp^Hills raifed which are conftderMe* 34

FhyficO'Thcol. Difiourfes on the Chaos^Scc. 3$

Arg. 3. From the Increafe of Mankind, 36

The World never depopulated hy Plagues, 38

Jiemarh upon the mofl remarhaUe PeJUl ernes, 39

The probable Number of Men in the World, 41

The World increafed more formerly than now. 43

This proved by Scripture and Reajon, 44

Arg, 4. From Hifiory and the late Invention of Arts, 45
No confiderable Arts lofty and revived again, 48

Mankind could not^ as the Theifts pretend^ have been
without Writing from all Eternity, ib.

The Pro(frefs in the Art of Writings and the no extraor-
dinary Difficulty in its Invention, 49
'Bxcefive Computations y no Argument of the Eternity of the
World, ^ 52
'Anfrver to the Argument from the late Communication of
the Divine Goodnejs, j 54
The fixed Stars probably no Fart of the Mofaick Crea^

tion, 5^

Gen. iii. 16. explained^ ib.

ObjeUioiis againft this Interpretation anfmrei, 58

ThU Interpretation not prejudicial to Religion. 5p

The Co N T E N T s.

fj^t hefore the Snn is the clearing up of the Chaos, p. 6^,
Waters above the Firmament^ the Waters of the Planets. 63
The Seas eafily formed in one Day. 5^

Trees and flams might eafily groyv hefore the . Stf>n reas

made, 66

How the Planets are faid to he made the fourth Day. 68
W/hy Mofes relates the diJlinEl Formation of the Earth

alone. 6p

This Relation agrees with the forejaid Hypothcfts jr

Cod. aEled hy other Methods in the Creation than now. 74
^e then took ari immediate Care of the Species. 7 "5

Americans of the fame Stocl^ tho Blacky mth the refi ef

the World. J 6

JIow Inhahitants got into America. ib,

tfpvfi the Blacks might defcend from a white Parentage, jg
This Blacknefs canjed hy the Heat of the Snn. ib.

By the Curje o/Cham. 81

No Ahjurdity that Eve [hould he made of a Rih* 91-

No Race of Men hefore Adam. p4

The Arguments for the Prasadamites anfmred. ib.

No confujed Huddle in the Relation of the fixth Days Work.

The Lapfe ofAIan, not the firfi Day of his Creation. ib.

The Ridicnlofifnefs of other Nations Account of the Creation^

compared with the MoJaicaL 102.

The Egyptian and Grsecian. ' ib,

Th^ Mahometan. ib,

T^^ American, 105.

ThcWickednefs and Folly of drolling upon Scripture. 104

Not nnreajonahle that the Devil jhoHld tetftpt Adankind. in

. the Form of a Serpent. 107

The Devil much p leafed mth Serpent Worfhip. 108^,

This Serpent not the common viperous Kind. lOp^

God not ohliged to keep Man from finning hy an irrefifiihle

Power. Ill

This 7mfild have defiroyed Free^wilU 112

t \ 4 Man

The Contents.

Jidan had fafficient AJftJlance, P» 1 1 5

This Mijcarriage was repaired'hy God's Mercy afterwards.


The Relation of the two Trees not ridiculous. 11^

D'i^culties about the Rivers o/Eden removed, iiy_

Mofes did not give Account of the Rivers to find out Tara»

iifeh- 118

The Reafonallenefs of the probative Precept. 1 ip

The Frohibition of an Apple more proper than any thing

ilfe. ib.

'the Tranjgrejfion of our firfl Parents no trifling Offence*

The Difficulties of original Sin removed. 124

The curftng the Ground no Reflexion upon the Deity, 1 27
Nor the Ctrje of the Serpent. 128

The Meaning of their Eyes were opened. 129

No.AbJurdity in the Relation of the Fig-leaves and the Skins.

The Difficulties of the CheruUm^ and the flaming Sword^

removedci I35

The HifiorJ of th e Tall not Allegorical, 135

Such a Suppofttion would defiroy all Hifiory, ib,

Mofes a plain Writer. 1^6

Had no Deffgn like the Heathen Philofophers to ferve by

an Allegory. 1.57

Nor the fame Defgn with the allegorical Fathers. ^^

Mofes gives the befl Account of the Depravation of Mans

WilC 13S

The Mi/carriages of the Philofophers in this. ib^

His Account the be ft of the Pudor circa res Veneris* 141

Of the Pain of Child-birth. 142

Of the Bar re nnejs of the Earths ib^


The Contents.

Second Part.

F Articular s of the Conference, - p. 147

The Unreafonahlenefs of vilifying the Clergy, 149
T^be People partook of the ancient Sacrifices-, 155

Natural Religion not the Tendencies of Nature* , 15$ ,
Prie/is in all Places of the World^ and alleges, , 157
The Advantage of a Minifiry, 158

fure natural Religion no where praBiJed. ■'\ ^^ 15^
Wbat is called natural Religion^ was at firfi revealed, 164
Riddles not the Corruption of natural Keligion. 167

Heathen PoJytheiJm^ not the diver Je Exhibitions of Provi^

dencc, l6p

Caufed hy the Barlnejs of the Pofidilnvian Ages* 171

By deifying of Princes, 172

By the Wor/hip of the Sun^ Moon^ and Stars. 174

By deifying Words, ^7%

Morality of the Philojephers grounded upon Pride, 177
The ancient Philojophers mijiaken in the^Nature^God, 17S
Erroneous in their moral Do^rines. l83

Their Lives vitious, iSj:

The Lives of the common Pagans highly vitious. 185

They and the Philofophers wanted a true End of their

Actions, .j.w.*^v.. ib.

The Lives of Chrifiims htter than the ptgms m many

Particulars, 18$

Idolatry, 18^

Magich ib.

jftigury, ib*

Human SacriflceSA, ib.

Levsd Worfhip, ib.

Xhe Contents*

VnUrvffil MArriages. p. 187

Cmdty. it»

Self-Murdtr. ib.

Common Syvearing. 188

Expofing Children* ' ib»

UnjuJfWars, ib,

Jjixwms Living. ib.

Enormous. Lnjis. ' i8p


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 46 of 47)