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A Discourse Concerning The Being And Attributes Of God by Samuel Clarke

THE CONTENTS. THE Introduction, concerning the causes of Atheism 1

PROP. I. That Something has existed from Eternity

Of the difficulty of conceiving Eternity

That Difficulties arising merely from the Nature of Eternity, are not to be regarded, because equal in all Suppositions

PROP. II. That there has existed from Eternity some one Immutable and Independent Being

Of the Absolute Impossibility of an eternal Succession of dependent Beings, existing without any original independent cause at all 11

PROP. III. That that Immutable and Independent Being, which has existed from Eternity, without any external cause of its Existence, must be Self-existent, that is, Necessarily-existing

Of the true Idea of Self-existence; That it is the Idea of a Being, the Supposition of whose Non-Existence is an express Contradiction 15

That every Man may be more certain of the Being of a Supreme Independent Cause, than he can be of any thing else besides his own Existence

Of the Idea of God, including Self-Existence

That the Material World cannot possibly be the first, original, and independent Being

The Form of the World not necessary

Nor its Motion

Mr Toland's pernicious opinion of Motion being essential to Matter, confuted

The Matter of the World not necessarily existing

A Confutation of Spinoza's opinion concerning one only Substance 25

Concerning the Eternity of the World, and that the opinion of the best Ancient Philosophers in that Matter did not at all favour the Sentiments of Modern Atheists

PROP. IV. What the Substance or Essence of that Being, which is Self-existent or Necessarily-existing, is, we have no idea, neither is it at all possible for us to comprehend it

Of Infinite Space

Of the Vanity of explaining things by such School-terms as have really no Signification at all

PROP. V. That though the Substance or Essence of the Self-existent Being is itself absolutely incomprehensible to us, yet many of the Essential Attributes of his Nature are strictly demonstrable, as well as his existence; as, in the first place, that he must of necessity be Eternal

Of the manner of our conceiving the Eternity of God with respect to succession

PROP. VI. That the Self-existent Being must of necessity be Infinite and Omnipresent

Of the Simplicity, Unchangeableness, Incorruptibility, &c. of his Nature

Of the Manner of our conceiving the Immensity of God 42

PROP. VII. That the Self-existent Being must of necessity be but One 43

Of the Blessed Trinity

Of the Absolute Impossibility of two different Self-existent Independent Principles, such as God and Matter

The Error of Spinoza concerning one Uniform Substance ibid.

PROP. VIII. That the Self-existent and Original Cause of all Things, must be an Intelligent Being

This the main Question between us and the Atheists

Not easily proved a priori

But demonstrably proved, a posteriori, from the variety and degrees of perfection in things, and the order of Causes and Effects 47

From the Intelligence that created Beings are confessedly indued with 48]

That, if Intelligence be a real distinct Quality or Perfection, and not a mere Effect or Composition of Unintelligent Figure and Motion, then Beings indued with Intelligence can never possibly have arisen purely out of that which itself had no such Perfection

That Intelligence is such a real distinct Perfection, and not possible to be a mere Effect or Composition of Unintelligent figure and motion 51

Mr Hobbes forced to recur to that prodigiously absurd Opinion, that all Matter, as Matter, is indued with Thought

The Proposition demonstrated further from the Beauty, Order, and Final Cause of Things

From the Original of Motion

That the Material World cannot possibly have been Self-existent 56

PROP. IX. That the Self-existent and Original Cause of all Things is not a Necessary Agent, but a Being indued with Liberty and Choice ibid.

This Proposition a necessary consequent of the foregoing 57

Proved further from the Arbitrary Disposition of Things in the World, with a full answer to Spinoza's arguments for the necessity of all things

Also from Final Causes

And from the Finiteness of Created Beings

And from the Impossibility of an Infinite Succession of Causes 64

That Liberty is not in itself an Impossible and contradictory Notion 66

PROP. X. That the Self-existing Being, the Supreme cause of all things, must of necessity have Infinite Power -

Of working Contradictions, and Natural or Moral Evil 68

Of the Power of creating Matter

Of the Power of creating immaterial Cogitative Substances, and those indued with Liberty of Will or Choice

Of the Immateriality of Human Souls

That the Power of Perception is not confined to Bodily Senses 74

Of the Possibility of Communicating to a Creature the Power of beginning Motion

Of the Possibility of induing a Creature with Freedom of Will 78

An Answer to Spinoza's and Mr Hobbes's arguments against the Possibility of Liberty

That there must be somewhere a Beginning of Operation ibid.

That Thinking and Willing, neither are, nor can possibly be Qualities or Affections of Matter

That, supposing they were Affections of Matter, yet even that most absurd supposition would not at all affect the question about the possibility of Liberty

A shameful Fallacy in Mr Hobbes and his Followers arguing, who, when they would prove the Soul to be mere Matter, then they suppose Matter to be a substance capable, not only of Figure and Motion, but also of other unknown properties; and when they would prove the will and all other Operations of the Soul to be necessary, then they divest Matter of all its unknown properties, and make it mere Solidity indued only with Figure and Motion again

Of the Necessity of the Will's being determined by the last Judgment of the Understanding

Of the Certainty of Divine Fore-knowledge, not repugnant to the Liberty of Men's Actions

Of the Original of Evil

PROP. XI. That the Supreme Cause and Author of all Things must of necessity be Infinitely Wise

Proved a priori

And a posteriori, from the Wisdom and Perfection of the Works of God, evidenced more illustriously in the late discoveries in Astronomy and Natural Philosophy

PROP. XII. That the Supreme Cause and Author of all things must of necessity be a Being of Infinite Goodness, Justice, and Truth, and all other Moral Perfections, such as become the Supreme Governor and Judge of the World

Of Providence

The Necessity of God's Moral Attributes, consistent with perfect Liberty

Of the Necessity of God's doing always what is Best and Fittest in the whole

Of the Impossibility of his doing Evil

That Liberty is not in itself an Imperfection, but a Perfection 111

That the highest moral Perfection of Rational Creatures does not exclude Natural Liberty

That the Grounds of all Moral Obligations are Eternal and Necessary, and depend not on any Laws

The Conclusion


Of the Several sorts of Deists

The first sort of Deists, and of Providence

Human Affairs not beneath the Regard of Providence

The second sort of Deists

Profane and debauched Deists not capable of being argued with 147

The Third sort of Deists

The Fourth sort of Deists

That there is now no consistent scheme of Deism in the World 153

PROP. I. That, from the Eternal and Necessary Differences of Things, there naturally and necessarily arise certain Moral Obligations, which are of themselves incumbent on all Rational Creatures, antecedent to all positive Institution and to all expectation of Reward or Punishment 156

That there are Eternal and necessary Differences of Things 157

The absurdity of those who deny the eternal and Necessary Difference of Things

An Answer to the Objection drawn from the variety of Opinions of the learned Men, and the Laws of different Nations, concerning Right and Wrong

That the will of God always determines itself to act according to the Eternal Reason of Things

That all Rational Creatures are obliged to govern themselves in all their actions by the same Eternal Rule of Reason

Proved from the Original Nature of Things

And from the Sense that all, even wicked Men, unavoidably have of their being under such an Obligation

And from the Judgment of Men's Consciences upon their own past actions 171

Of that Natural Knowledge which Plato thought to be Reminiscence ibid.

The most profligate of Men not utterly insensible of the difference of Good and Evil

Men's Natural sense of Eternal Moral Obligations proved further from the Judgment they all pass upon the actions of others 173

An Answer to the Objection drawn from the Total Ignorance of some Barbarous Nations in Matters of Morality

Of the Principal Moral Obligations in particular

Of Piety, or Men's Duty towards God

Of Righteousness, or the duty of Men one towards another 180

Of Justice and Equity

Of Universal Mutual Benevolence

Of Sobriety, or Men's Duty towards themselves, and of the Unlawfulness of Self-Murder

The Law of Nature Eternal, Universal, and Absolutely Unchangeable 191

Eternal Moral Obligations antecedent, in some respect, even to this Consideration, of their being the Will or Command of God himself 195

The Law of Nature Obligatory, antecedent to all consideration of particular Rewards and Punishments

Yet it does not from hence at all follow, either that a Good Man ought to have no respect to Rewards and Punishments, or that Rewards and Punishments are not absolutely necessary to maintain the Practice of Virtue in this present World

The Manifold Absurdities of Mr Hobbes's Doctrines concerning the Original of Right, shown in particular

PROP. II. That the same Eternal Moral Obligations, which arise necessarily from the Natural Differences of Things, are moreover the Express W 1, Command, and Law of God to all Rational Creatures 218

Proved from the Consideration of the Divine Attributes ibid.

And from the Consideration of the Nature of God's Creation 222

And from the Tendency of the Practice of Morality to the Good and Happiness of the whole World

PROP. III. That the same Eternal Moral Obligations, which are of themselves incumbent indeed on all Rational Creatures, antecedent to any respect of particular Reward or Punishment, must yet certainly and necessarily be attended with Rewards and Punishments 226

Proved from the Attributes of God

And from the Necessity there is that there should be some Vindication of the Honour of God's Laws and Government

PROP. IV. That because these Rewards and Punishments are not distributed in the present State, therefore there must of necessity be a Future State

That, according to the Original Constitution of Things, Virtue and Vice are attended with Natural Rewards and Punishments

But that now, in this present World, the Natural Order of Things is so Perverted, that Vice often flourishes in great Prosperity and Virtue falls under the greatest Calamities of Life

That therefore there must needs be a Future State of Rewards and Punishments

Of the Stoical Opinion concerning the Self-Sufficiency of Virtue to its own Happiness

From whence the Certainty of a Future State is again concluded 236

Why the Wisdom of God is not so Clearly and Plainly seen in his Government of the Moral, as in the Fabric of the Natural World 238

Of the Immortality of the Soul, and the Natural Proofs we have of it 239

The Natural Credibility of the Soul's being Immortal, of great Use to the Wiser Heathens

The Argument for a Future State drawn from Men's Natural Desire of Immortality

Another, drawn from Men's Conscience or Judgment of their own Actions 246

Another, drawn from Man's being by Nature an Accountable Creature ibid.

PROP. V. That though the Necessity and Indispensableness of all the great and Moral Obligations of Natural Religion, and also the Certainty of a Future State of Rewards and Punishments, be in general deducible from Right Reason, yet such is the present Corrupt Estate and Condition of Mankind in the World, that very few are able, in reality and effect, to discover these things clearly and plainly for themselves, but Men have great need of Particular Teaching and much Instruction 248

Men Hindered from Discovering and Understanding Religious Truths, by Carelessness and Want of Attention

And by Early Prejudices and False Notions

And by Sensual Appetites, Passions, and Worldly Business 251

And, above all, by Vicious Habits and Practices

Wherefore Men have great need to be Taught and Instructed in Matters of Religion

The great Use and Necessity of an Order of Preachers 256

PROP. VI. That all the Teaching and Instruction of the best Heathen Philosophers, was for many Reasons Utterly Insufficient to Reform Mankind

That there have been in the Heathen World some Excellent Teachers of Morality

Who seem to have been designed by Providence to bear witness against the Wickedness of the Nations wherein they lived

But yet none of these Men were ever able to Reform the World with any considerable success

Because they have been but very few that have in earnest set themselves about that Excellent Work

And those few were entirely ignorant of some Doctrines absolutely necessary to the bringing about that Great End

Particularly, they were Ignorant in what Manner God will be Acceptably Worshipped

And in what Method God would be Reconciled to Returning Sinners 267

And other Doctrines absolutely necessary to the same end, they were very doubtful and uncertain about

And those things which they were certain of, yet they were not able to prove and explain clearly and distinctly enough

And those things which they were able to prove and explain clearly and distinctly enough, yet they had not sufficient authority to enforce in practice

PROP. VII. That there was plainly wanting a Divine Revelation, to recover Mankind out of their Universal Degenerate Estate, and that both the Necessities of Men, and their Natural Notions of God, gave them reasonable ground to hope for such a Revelation

A Divine Revelation very necessary for the Recovery of Mankind ibid.

That it was agreeable to the Dictates of Nature and Right Reason to expect or hope for such a Divine Revelation

The Unreasonableness of Modern Deists in Denying the Want and Use of a Revelation

The great Necessity and Use of Divine Revelation

Yet God was not absolutely obliged to afford men the help of such a Revelation

Want of Universality no sufficient Objection against the Truth of a Revelation

PROP. VIII. That there is no other Religion now in the World, but the Christian, that has any Just Pretence or Tolerable Appearance of Reason to be esteemed such a Divine Revelation

Of the Mahometan Religion

Of the Jewish Religion

PROP. IX. That the Christian Religion has all the Marks and Proofs of its being Actually and Truly a Divine Revelation, that any Divine Revelation, supposing it was true, could reasonably be imagined or desired to have

The Marks of a Religion Coming from God

PROP. X. That the Practical Duties, which the Christian Religion enjoins, are all such as are most agreeable to our Natural Notions of God, and most Perfective of the Nature and Conducive to the Happiness and Well-being of Men

Proved in the Several Instances of Duty

This a Great Evidence of a Religion coming from God 296

PROP. XI. That the Motives by which the Christian Religion enforces the Practice of the Duties it enjoins, are such as are most suitable to the excellent wisdom of God, and most answerable to the natural expectations of Men

Of the Acceptableness of True Repentance as a Motive to Obedience ibid.

Of the Divine Assistance as another Motive to Obedience 300

Of the Clear Discovery of Future Rewards and Punishments, as another Motive to Obedience

PROP. XII. That the Peculiar Manner and Circumstances, with which the Christian Religion enjoins the Duties, and urges the Motives before-mentioned, are exactly consonant to the Dictates of Sound Reason, or the Unprejudiced Light of Nature, and most wisely perfective of it

Proved by Particular Instances

An Answer to the Objections drawn from the Divisions among Christians 305

PROP. XIII. That all the Credenda, or Doctrines, which the Christian Religion requires our particular assent to, are agreeable to Unprejudiced Reason, have every one of them a Natural Tendency and Direct Influence to Reform Men's Manners, and do together make up the most consistent and rational Scheme of Belief in the World 306

Of the One Supreme God

Of the Only-begotten Son of God

Of the Holy Spirit

Of the Creation of the Universe

Of the Formation of the Earth

Of the Continual Government of Providence

Of Paradise, and the Loss of it by Sin

Of the Flood

Of God's Revealing Himself to the Patriarchs, and giving the Law to the Jews

Of the other Particulars of Scripture-history in the Old Testament ibid.

Of God's sending his Son into the World, for the Redemption of Mankind 315

That it is not Unreasonable to Suppose God Making a Revelation of his Will to Men

That it is not unreasonable to believe that God would appoint a Sacrifice or Expiation for Sin

That it is not unreasonable to believe that a Mediator should be appointed between God and Man

Of the Objection drawn from the Dignity of the Person whom we believe to be our Mediator and Redeemer

Of the Objection drawn from the Christian Revelation not being in fact Universal -

Of the other Particulars of Scripture-history contained in the New Testament

Of the Day of Judgment and Christ the Judge

Of the Resurrection of the Body

Of the Resurrection of the same Body

Of the Eternal Happiness of the Blessed, and the Eternal Punishment of the Damned

All the Articles of our Belief agreeable to Right Reason 331

Every one of them has a Direct Tendency and Powerful Influence to Reform Men's Manners

And all of them together make up the most Consistent and Rational Scheme of Belief in the World

PROP. XIV. That the Christian Revelation is positively and directly proved to be sent to us from God by the Miracles which our Saviour worked, by the fulfilling of the Prophecies, and by the Testimony of the Apostles

Of the Life and Character of our Saviour, as an Evidence of the Truth of the Christian Revelation

Of the Miracles of Christ, as the Evidence of his Divine Commission 338

Of Miracles in General

That, in Respect of the Power of God, all things are alike easy 339

That therefore Miracles ought not to be defined by any Absolute Difficulty in the Nature of the Things themselves to be done ibid.

What degrees of Power God may have communicated to Created Beings, is not possible for us to determine

That therefore a Miracle is not rightly defined to be such an Effect as could not have been produced by any less Power than the Divine Omnipotence

All things that are done in the World, are done either Immediately by God Himself, or by Created Intelligent Beings, Matter being capable of no laws or powers; and consequently there is, properly speaking, no such thing as the Course or Power of Nature

That therefore a Miracle is not rightly defined to be that which is against the Course of Nature, or above the Natural Powers of Created Agents

The Unreasonableness of those who deny the Possibility of Miracles in General

Some Effects prove the Constant Providence of God, and others prove the Occasional Interposition either of God himself or of some Intelligent Being Superior to Men

Whether such Interposition be the Immediate work of God, or of some Good or Evil Angel, can hardly be discovered merely by the Work Itself 344

That there is no reason to suppose all the Wonders worked by Evil Spirits to be mere Delusions

How we are to Distinguish Miracles wrought by God for the Proof of any Doctrine, from the Frauds of Evil Spirits

The Difference between those who teach that the Immediate Power of God is, or is not, necessarily requisite to the Working of a Miracle, is not very great at bottom

The True Definition of a Miracle

The Strength of the Evidence of our Saviour's Miracles 348

Concerning the Objection, that we prove in a circle the Miracles by the Doctrine, and the Doctrine by the Miracles

Of the Pretended Miracles of Apollonius and others

Of the fulfilling the Prophecies as an Evidence of our Saviour's Divine Commission

Of the Prophecies that went before Concerning the Messiah ibid.

Of the Prophecies that Christ Himself delivered concerning things that were to happen after

An Answer to Objections against Applying the Prophecies in the Old Testament to Christ

Of the Testimony of our Saviour's Disciples, as an Evidence of the Truth of the Christian Revelation

What Things are requisite to make the Testimony of our Saviour's Disciples a Complete Evidence

That the Apostles could not be Imposed upon Themselves ibid.

That they could have no design of imposing upon Others 401

That the Apostles' Testimony has been truly conveyed down to us 403

Of the Authority of the Books of Holy Scripture

PROP. XV. That they who will not, by the Arguments and Proofs before-mentioned, be convinced of the Truth and Certainty of the Christian Religion, would not be convinced by any other Evidence whatsoever, -- no, not though one should rise on purpose from the dead to endeavour to Convince them

That the Evidence which God has afforded us of the Truth of our Religion is abundantly sufficient

That the Cause of Men's Unbelief is not Want of Better Evidence to prove the great Truths of Religion

But that Wickedness and Ungoverned Lusts are the only Causes of Obstinate Infidelity

And so long as Men are under the Dominion of their Lusts, they would not be convinced, though the Evidence of Religion was even much Stronger than it is

Nay, not even though one should Rise on Purpose from the Dead to Convince them

That therefore it is Absolutely Necessary in the first place, that Men become Impartially Willing to embrace all Truth, and to obey all Reasonable Obligations

That Men of such a Disposition would be Religious, though the Evidences of Religion were much less than they are

That God may require us to take notice of some things at our peril 414

Letters from a Gentleman in Gloucestershire relative to some points stated in the foregoing Discourses, with the Answers thereto 418

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