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supposed to be animated, or at least to be inhabited by angels, or glorious spirits, whom they called gods.

Other of their deities were accounted much inferior to these, being supposed to be the souls of their deceas'd heroes; who, for their great and worthy deeds when they lived upon earth, were supposed after death to be translated into the number of their gods; and these were called semidlei and deaftri ; that is, “ half gods, and a sort of gods.” And as the other were celestial, fo thefe were δαίμονες επιχθόνιοι, a kind of terreftrial fpirits, that were presidents and procurators of human affairs here below; that is, a middle sort of divine powers, that were mediators and agents between God and men,

and did carry the prayers and supplications of men to God, and bring down the commands and blessings of God to


But in the midst of all this crowd and confusion of deities, and the various superstitions about them, the wiser Heathen, as Thales, Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Tully, Plutarch, and others, preserved a true notion of one fupreme God, whom they defined, "An in" finite Spirit, pure from all matter, and free from all

imperfection :” and all the variety of their worship was, as they pretended in excuse of it, but a more particular owning of the various representations of the divinc power

and excellencies which manifested themselves in the world, and of the several communications of blessings and favours by them imparted to men. And Tertullian (adverfus Marcionem, 1. 1. c. 10.) observes, that even when idolatry had very much obscured the glory of the sovereign Deity, yet the greater part of mankind did still, in their common forms of speech, appropriate the name of God in a more especial and peculiar manner to one, saying, “If God grant, If God please," and the like.

So that there is sufficient ground to believe, that the unity of the divine nature, or the notion of one supreme God, creator and governor of the world, was the primitive and general belief of mankind; and that polytheism and idolatry were a corruption and degeneracy from the original notion which mankind had concerning God; as the scripture-history doth declare and testify.


And this account which I have given of the Heathen idolatry doth by no means excuse it. For whatever may be said by way of extenuation in behalf of some few of the wiser and more devout among them, the generality were grossly guilty both of believing more gods, and of worshipping false gods.

And this must needs be a very great crime, since the fcripture every where declares God to be particularly jealous in this case, and that he will not give his glory to another, nor his praise to graven images : nay, we may not so much as make use of sensible images to put us in mind of God; lest devout ignorance, seeing the worship which wise men paid towards an idol, should be drawn to terminate their worship there, as being the very Deity itself; which was certainly the case of the greatest part of the Heathen world.

And surely those Christians are in no less danger of idolatry, who pay a veneration to images, by kneeling down and praying before them : and in this they are much more inexcusable, because they offend against a niuch clearer light : and yet when they go about to justify this practice, are able to bring no other nor better pleas for themselves than the Heathen did for their worThipping of images, and for praying to their inferior deities, whom they looked upon as mediators between the gods in heaven and men upon earth.

There is but one objection, that I know of, against the general consent of mankind concerning the unity of God; and it is this, That there was an ancient doctrine of some of the most ancient nations, that there were two first causes or principles of all things; the one the cause of all good, and the other of all the evil that is in the world: the reason whereof feems to 'have been, that they could not apprehend how things of fo contrary a nature, as good and evil, could proceed from one and the fame cause.

And these two principles in several nations were called by several names. Plutarch says, that among the Greeks the good principle was called God, and the evil principle Adip.cov, or the devil. In conformity to which ancient tradition, the Manichees, a sect, which called themselves Chriftians, did advance two principles; the


one infinitely good, which they supposed to be the original cause of all the good which is in the world; the Other infinitely evil, to which they ascribed all the evils that are in the world.

But all this is very plainly a corruption of a much more ancient tradition concerning that old serpent the devil, the head of the fallen angels, who, by tempting our first parents to transgress a positive and express law of God, brought fin first into the world, and all the evils consequent upon it; of which the scripture gives us a most exprels and particular account.

And as to the notion of a being infinitely evil, into which this tradition was corrupted, after idolatry had prevailed in the world; besides that it is a contradiction, it would likewise be to no purpose, to assert two opposite principles, of infinite, that is, of equal force and power ; for two infinites mult of necessity be equal to one another ; because nothing can be more or greater than

infinite : and therefore, if two infinite beings were possible, they would certainly be equal, and could not be otherwise.

Now, that the notion of a principle infinitely evil is a contradiction, will be very plain, if we consider, that what is infinitely evil, muft, in strict reasoning, and by necessary consequence, be infinitely imperfect, and therefore infinitely weak; and for that reason, though never so malicious and mischievous, yet, being infinitely weak and foolish, could never be in capacity either to contrive mischief, or to execute it.

But if it should be admitted, that a being infinitely mischievous could be infinitely knowing and powerful, yet it could effect no evil; because the opposite principle of infinite goodness being also infinitely wise and powerful, they would tie up one another's hands. So that, upon this supposition, the notion of a Deity must signify just nothing; because, by virtue of the eternal oppolition and equal conflict of these two principles, they would keep one another at a perpetual bay; and being juft an equal match to one another, the one having as much mind and power to do good, as the other to do evil ; instead of being two deities, they would be but two idols, able to do neither good nor evil.



And having, I hope, now fufficiently cleared this objection, I shall proceed to Thew how agreeable this principle, That there is but one God, is to the common reason of mankind, and to the clearest and most effential notions which we have of God. And this will appear these two ways.

1. By considering the most essential perfections of the divine nature.

2. From the repugnancy and impossibility, the great absurdity and inconvenience of supposing more gods than

I. By considering the most essential perfections of the divine nature. Absolute perfection, which we ascribe to God, as the most essential notion which mankind hath always had concerning him, does necessarily suppose u.. nity; because this is essential to the notion of a being that is absolutely perfect, that all perfection meets, and is united in such a being : but to imagine more gods, and some perfections to be in one, and some in another, does destroy the most essential notion which men have of God; namely, that he is a being absolutely perfect; that is, as perfect as is poslible. Now, to fuppofe fome perfections in one god, which are not in another, is to suppose some poslible perfection to be wanting in God; which is a contradiction to the most natural and the most easy notion which all men have of God, that he is a being in whom all perfections do meet and are united: but if we suppose more gods, each of which hath all perfections united in him, then all but one would be superfluous and needless; and therefore, by juft and necessary consequence, not only may, but of necessity must be supposed not to be, fince necessary existence is essential to the Deity: and therefore if but one God be necessary, there can be no more.

II. From the repugnancy and impossibility, the great absurdity and inconvenience of the contrary. For fuppose there were more gods, two, for example; and if there may be two, there may be a million, for we can Itop no where : I say, suppose two gods; either these two would be in all perfections equal and alike, or unequal and unlike : if equal and alike in all things, then, as I said before, one of them would be needlefs and fu


perfluous ; and if one, why not as well the other they being supposed to be in all things perfectly alike; and then

there would be no necessity at all of the being of a God: and yet it is granted on all hands, that necessary existence is essential to the notion of a God: but if they be unequal, that is, one of them inferior to and less

perfect than the other, that which is inferior and less perfect could not be God, because he would not have all perfection. So that, which way foever we turn the thing, and look upon it, the notion of more gods than one, is by its own repugnancy and self-contradiction destructive of itself.

Before I come to apply this doctrine of the unity of God, I must not pass by a very considerable difficulty, which will most certainly arise in every man's mind, without taking particular notice of it, and endeavouring to remove it, if I can. And it is the doctrine of the blessed Trinity, or of three real differences or distinct persons in one and the same divine nature.

And though this be not a difficulty peculiar only to the Christian religion, as by the generality of those who urge this objection against Christians hath been inconfi. derately thought; for it is certain, that long before Christianity appeared in the world, there was a very ancient tradition, both among Jews and Heathen, concerning three real differences or distinctions in the divine nature, very nearly resembling the Christian doctrine of the Trinity; as I shall have occasion more fully to shew by and by: yet it cannot be denied, but that this difficulty doth in a more especial mariner affect the Christian religion ; the generality of Christians, who do most firmly believe the Trinity, believing likewise, at the same time, more stedfastly, if it be poslīble, that there is but one God: To us, (faith St. Paul, 1 Cor. viii. 6.), that is, to us Christians, there is but one God. But how can this possibly consist with the common doctrine of Christians concerning the Trinity, God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, to each of whom they attribute, as they verily believe the scripture does, the most incommunicable properties and perfections of the divine nature ? And what is this less in effect than to say, that there are three gods?


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