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and conversations with God, he would find them not only cold and without life, but full of malice and leaven; sober towards God; beside themselves to the people.
OF THE KINDS OF IMPOSTURE.
Avoid profane novelties of terms and oppositions of science falsely so called.
Avoid fond and idle fables.
Let no man deceive you with high speech.
There are three kinds of speech, and as it were styles of imposture. The first kind is of those who, as soon as they get any subject-matter, straightway make an art of it, fit it with technical terms, reduce all into distinctions, thence educe positions and assertions, and frame oppositions by questions and answers. Hence the rubbish and pother of the schoolmen. The second kind is of those who through vanity of wit, as a kind of holy poets, imagine and invent all variety of stories and examples, for the training and moulding of men's minds whence the lives of the fathers, and innumerable figments of the ancient heretics. The third kind is of those who fill everything with mysteries and highsounding phrases, allegories and allusions: which mystic and Gnostic style of discourse a great number of heretics have adopted. Of these kinds, the first catches and entangles man's sense and understanding, the second allures, the third astonishes: all seduce it.
The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.
First, he hath said in his heart; it is not said, he hath thought in his heart; that is, it is not so much that he feels it inwardly, as that he wishes to believe it. Because he sees that it would be good for him that there were no God, he strives by all means to persuade himself of it and induce himself to think so; and sets it up as a theme or position or dogma, which he studies to assert and maintain and establish. Nevertheless there remains in him that sparkle of the original light whereby we acknowledge a divinity, to extinguish which utterly, and pluck the instinct out of his heart, he strives in vain. And therefore it is out of the malice of his will, not out of his natural sense and judgment, that he makes this supposition: as the comic poet says Then came my mind over to my opinion; as though himself and his mind were not one. And so it is true that the Atheist has rather said in his heart than thinks in his heart that there is no God.
Secondly, he hath said it in his heart: he hath not spoken it with his mouth. But note that this is from fear of law and opinion: as one says, It is a hard matter to deny the Gods in a public assembly, but in a familiar conference it is easy enough. For if this restraint were removed, there is no heresy which strives with more zeal to spread and sow and multiply itself, than Atheism. Nor shall you see those who are fallen into this phrensy to breathe and importunately inculcate anything else almost, than speech tending to Atheism; as in Lucretius the Epicurean; who makes his invec
tive against religion almost as the burthen or verse of return to every other subject. The reason appears to be that the Atheist, not being well satisfied in his own mind, tossing to and fro, distrustful of himself, and finding many times his opinion faint within him, desires to have it revived by the assent of others. For it is rightly said that he who is very anxious to approve his opinion to another, himself distrusts it.
Thirdly, he is a fool who has said this in his heart; which is most true: a fool, not only as wanting wisdom in divine matters, but humanly also. For first, you will find those wits which are prone to Atheism to be commonly light and scoffing and rash and insolent: of that composition in short which is most opposed to wisdom and gravity. Secondly, among statesmen, the deeper wits and larger hearts have not made pretence of religion to the people, but have in their private and inward opinion paid respect to it, as those who have attributed most to providence and fortune: while those on the contrary who have ascribed everything to their own arts and industries, and to immediate and apparent causes, and sacrificed (as the prophet says) to their own nets, have been paltry politicians, and mountebanks, and incapable of great actions. Thirdly, in physics likewise I maintain this that a little natural philosophy and the first entrance into it inclines men's opinions to Atheism; but on the other hand much natural philosophy and a deeper progress into it brings men's minds about again to religion. So that Atheism appears to be convicted on all sides of folly and ignorance: and it is truly the saying of fools, that there is no God.
Ye err, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.
This canon is the mother of all canons against heresies. The cause of error is twofold: ignorance of the will of God, and ignorance or superficial consideration of the power of God. The will of God is more revealed through the Scriptures: Search the Scriptures ; his power more through his creatures: Behold and consider the creatures. So is the plenitude of God's power to be asserted, as not to involve any imputation upon his will. So is the goodness of his will to be asserted, as not to imply any derogation of his power. True religion therefore is seated in the mean, between Superstition with superstitious heresies on one side, and Atheism with profane heresies on the other. Superstition, rejecting the light of the Scriptures, and giving itself up to corrupt or apocryphal traditions, and new revelations or false interpretations of the Scriptures, invents and dreams many things concerning the will of God which are astray and alien from the Scriptures. Atheism and Theomachy rebels and mutinies against the power of God; not trusting to his word, which reveals his will, because it does not believe in his power, to whom all things are possible. Now the heresies which spring from this source appear to be more heinous than the rest for in civil government also it is a more atrocious thing to deny the power and majesty of the prince, than to slander his reputation. But of the heresies which deny the power of God, there are, besides simple atheism, three degrees; and they have all one and the same mystery (for all antichris
tianism works in a mystery, that is under a shadow of good); namely to discharge the will of God from all imputation of evil. The first degree is of those who set up two equal and contrary principles, at war with one another, one of good the other of ill. The second is of those who think it too injurious to the majesty of God to allow of an active and affirmative principle being set up against him; and therefore reject such boldness; but nevertheless bring in a negative and privative principle in opposition to him. For they suppose it to be the inherent natural and substantive operation of matter itself and the creature, to tend and fall back of itself into confusion and nothingness: not knowing that it is no less the work of omnipotence to make nothing of something, than to make something of nothing. The third degree is of those who limit and restrain the former opinion to human actions only, which partake of sin: which actions they suppose to depend substantively and without any chain of causes upon the inward will and choice of man; and who give a wider range to the knowledge of God than to his power; or rather to that part of God's power (for knowledge itself is power) whereby he knows, than to that whereby he works and acts; suffering him to foreknow some things as an unconcerned looker on, which he does not predestine and preordain: a notion not unlike the figment which Epicurus introduced into the philosophy of Democritus, to get rid of fate and make room for fortune; namely the sidelong motion of the Atom; which has ever by the wiser sort been accounted a very empty device. But the fact is that whatever does not depend upon God as author and principle, by links and subordinate degrees, the same