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## A Confutation of AtheismFrom the Structure and Origin of Humane Bodies. PART I. A SERMONPREACHED At Saint Martin's in the Fields, May 2. 1692. Being the Third of the Lecture Founded by the Honourable ROBERT BOYLE, Esquire. By RICHARD BENTLEY, M. A. Chaplain to the Right Reverend Father in God, EDWARD, Lord Bishop of Worcester.

LONDON,
Printed for Tho. Parkhurst at the Bible and Three Crowns in Cheapside, and H. Mortlock at the Phœnix in St. Paul's Church-yard, 1692.

Imprimatur.

Geo. Royse, R. Rmo in Christo Patri ac Dno Dno Johanni Archiep. Cantuar. à Sacris Domest.

May 7.

1692.

## ACTS XVII.27

That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him: though he be not far from every one of us; for in him we Live, and Move, and have our Being.

First, 'tis allowed and acknowledged by all parties; that the Bodies of Men and other Animals are excellently well fitted for Life, and Motion, and Sensation; and the several Parts of them well adapted and accommodated to their particular Functions. The Eye is very proper and meet for seeing, the Tongue for tasting and speaking, the Hand for holding and lifting, and ten thousand Operations beside: and so for the inward Parts; the Lungs are suitable for Respiration, the Stomach for Concoction, the Lacteous Vessels for the Reception of the Chyle, the Heart for the Distribution of the Blood to all the Parts of the Body. This is matter of Fact, and beyond all dispute; and in effect is no more than to say, that Animals are Animals; for if they were deprived of these Qualifications, they could not be so. This therefore is not the matter in Question between us and <9> the Atheists: But the Controversie is here. We, when we consider so many constituent parts in the Bodies of Men, all admirably compacted into so noble an Engine; in each of the very Fingers, for example, there are Bones, and Gristles, and Ligaments, and Membranes, and Muscles, and Tendons, and Nerves, and Arteries, and Veins, and Skin, and Cuticle, and Nail; together with Marrow, and Fat, and Blood, and other Nutritious Juices; and all those Solid parts of a determinate Size, and Figure, and Texture, and Situation; and each of them made up of Myriads of little Fibres and Filaments, not discoverable by the naked Eye: I say, when We consider how innumerable parts must constitute so small a member, as the Finger, we cannot look upon it or the whole Body, wherein appears so much Fitness, and Use, and Subserviency to infinite Functions, any otherwise than as the effect of Contrivance and Skill, and consequently the Workmanship of a most Intelligent and Beneficent Being. And though now the Propagation of Mankind is in a settled method of Nature, the instrument of God; yet we affirm that its first Production was by the immediate Power of the Almighty Author of Nature: and that all succeeding Generations of Men are the Progeny of one primitive Couple. <10> This is a Religious man's account of the Frame and Origination of himself. Now the Atheists agree with us, as to the Fitness of Man's Body and its several parts to their various Operations and Functions (for that is visible and past all contradiction) but they vehemently impugn, and horribly dread the Thought, That this Usefulness of the Parts and the Whole should first arise from Wisdom and Design. So that here will be the point in debate, and the subject of our present Undertaking; Whether this acknowledged Fitness of Humane Bodies must be attributed, as we say, to a wise and good God: or, as the Atheists averr, to dead, sensless Matter. They have contrived several tricks and [2]methods of Deceit, one repugnant to another, to evade (if possible) this most cogent Proof of a Deity; All which I will propose and refute; and I hope to make it appear, that here, as indeed every where, but here certainly, in the great Dramatick Poem of Nature, is, dignus Deo vindice Nodus, a necessity of introducing a God.

And first, I will answer what Exceptions they can have against Our Account: and secondly, I will confute all the Reasons and Explications they can give of their own.

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But perhaps they may have better success in their complaints about the Distempers of the Body and the Shortness of Life. We do not wonder indeed, that the Atheist should lay a mighty stress upon this Objection. For to a man that places all his Happiness in the Indolency and Pleasure of Body, what can be more terrible than Pain or a Fit of Sickness? nothing but Death alone, the most dreadfull thing in the world. When an Atheist reflects upon Death, his very Hope is Despair; and 'tis the crown and top of his Wishes, that it may prove his utter Dissolution and Destruction. No question if an Atheist had had the making of himself, he would have framed a Constitution, that could have kept pace with his insatiable Lust, been invincible by Gluttony and Intemperance, and have held out vigorous a thousand years in a perpetual Debauch. But we answer; First, in the words of St. Paul: [3]Nay, but, O Man, who art thou, that repliest against God? shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? We adore and magnifie his most holy Name for his undeserved mercy towards us, that he made us the Chief of the visible creation; and freely acquit his Goodness from any imputation of Unkindness, that he has placed us no Higher. Secondly, Religion gives us a very good account <16> of the present Infirmity of our Bodies. Man at his first Origin was a Vessel of Honour, when he came first out of the Hands of the Potter; endued with all imaginable perfections of the Animal Nature; till by Disobedience and Sin, Diseases and Death came first into the world. Thirdly, The Distempers of the Body are not so formidable to a Religious man, as they are to an Atheist: He hath a quite different judgment and apprehension about them: he is willing to believe, that our present condition is better for us in the issue, than that uninterrupted Health and Security, that the Atheist desires; which would strongly tempt us to forget God and the concerns of a better Life. Whereas now he receives a Fit of Sickness, as the παιδεία του πατρὸς, the kind Chastisement and Discipline of his Heavenly Father, to wean his affections from the world, where he is but as on a Journey; and to fix his thoughts and desires on things above, where his Country and his Dwelling is: that where he hath placed his Treasure and Concerns, there his heart may be also. Fourthly, Most of the Distempers that are incident to us are of our own making, the effects of abused Plenty, and Luxury, and must not be charged upon our Maker; who notwithstanding out of the Riches of his Compassion hath provided for us store of excel <17> lent Medicines, to alleviate in a great measure those very Evils which we bring upon our selves. And now we are come to the last objection of the Atheist, That Life is too short. Alas for him, what pity 'tis that he cannot wallow immortally in his sensual Pleasures! If his Life were many whole Ages longer than it is, he would still make the same Complaint, [4]Brevis est hic fructus homullis. For Eternity, and that's the thing he trembles at, is every whit as long, after a thousand years as after fifty. But Religion gives us a better prospect, and makes us look beyond the gloomy Regions of Death with Comfort and Delight: When this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality. We are so far from repining at God, that he hath not extended the period of our Lives to the Longævity of the Antediluvians; that we give him thanks for contracting the days of our Trial, and receiving us more maturely into those Everlasting Habitations above, that he hath prepared for us.

And now that I have answer'd all the Atheist's Exceptions against Our account of the Production of Mankind, I come in the next place to examine all the Reasons and Explications they can give of their own.

The Atheists upon this occasion are divided <18> into Sects, and (which is the mark and character of Error) are at variance and repugnancy with each other and with themselves. Some of them will have Mankind to have been thus from all Eternity. But the rest do not approve of any infinite Successions, but are positive for a beginning; and they also are subdivided into three Parties: the first ascribe the Origin of Men to the Influence of the Stars upon some extraordinary Conjunction or Aspect: Others again reject all Astrology; and some of these mechanically produce Mankind at the very first Experiment by the action of the Sun upon duly prepared Matter: but others are of opinion, that after infinite blundering and miscarrying our Bodies at last happen'd and jump'd into this Figure by meer Chance and Accident. There's no Atheist in the world, that reasons about his Infidelity (which God knows most of them never do) but he takes one of these four Methods. I will refute them every one in the same order that I have named them: the two former in the present Discourse, reserving the others for another occasion.

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O Laertiade, quicquid dico, aut erit, aut non.

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There's but a true and a false in any telling of Fortune; and a man that never hits on the right side, cannot be called a bad Guesser, but must miss out of design, and be notably skilfull at lighting on the wrong. And were there not formerly as great pretentions to it from the superstitious observation of the Entrails of Cows, of the flying of Vulturs, and the pecking of Chickens? Nay, the old Augurs and Southsayers had better reason to profess the Art of Divining, than the modern Astrological Atheist: for They supposed there were some Dæmons, that directed the indications. So likewise the Chaldean and Ægyptian Astrologers were much more excusable than He. It was the Religion of their Countries to worship the Stars, as we know from unquestionable Authority.[8] They believed them Intelligent Beings,and no other than very Gods; and therefore had some Reason to suspect, that they might govern Humane Affairs. The Influence of the Stars was in their apprehensions no less than Divine Power. But an Atheist, that believes the Planets to be dark, solid and sensless Bodies, like the brute Earth he treads on; <32> and the Fixt Stars and the Sun to be inanimate Balls of Fire; what Reasons can He advance for the credit of such Influences? He acknowledgeth nothing besides Matter and Motion; so that all that he can conceive to be transmitted hither from the Stars, must needs be perform'd either by Mechanism or Accident: either of which is wholly unaccountable, and the latter irreconcilable to any Art or System of Science. But if both were allowed the Atheist; yet as to any production of Mankind, they will be again refuted in my following Discourse. I can preserve a due esteem for some great Men of the last Age, before the Mechanical Philosophy was revived, though they were too much addicted to this nugatory Art. When Occult Quality, and Sympathy and Antipathy were admitted for satisfactory Explications of things, even wise and vertuous Men might swallow down any Opinion that was countenanced by Antiquity. But at this time of day, when all the general powers and capacities of Matter are so clearly understood; he must be very ridiculous himself, that doth not deride and explode the antiquated Folly. But we may see the miserable Shifts that some men are put to; when that which was first founded upon, and afterward <33> supported by Idolatry, is now become the tottering Sanctuary of Atheism. If the Stars be no Deities, Astrology is groundless: and if the Stars be Deities, why is the Astrologer an Atheist? He may easily be no Christian; and 'tis difficult indeed to be both at once: because, as I have said before, Idolatry is at the bottom; and by submitting Humane Actions and Inclinations to the Influence of the Stars, they destroy the very Essence of Moral Vertue and the Efficacy of Divine Grace: and therefore Astrology was justly condemn'd by the Ancient Fathers and Christian Emperours.[9] An Astrologer, I say, may very easily be no Christian; he may be an Idolater or a Pagan: but I could hardly think Astrology to be compatible with rank Atheism; if I could suppose any great gifts of Nature to be, where either do reside. But let him be what he will, he is not able to do much hurt by his Reasons and Example. For Religion it self, according to his Principles, is derived from the Stars. And he owns, 'tis not any just Exceptions he hath taken against Christianity, but 'tis his Destiny and Fate; 'tis Saturn in the Ninth House, and not Judgment and Deliberation, that made him an Atheist.

FINIS.

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## Lately Printed for Henry Mortlock at thePhœnix in St. Paul's Church-Yard.

A Sermon preached before the Queen at White-Hall, Feb. 22. 168$\frac{8}{9}$. upon 1 Pet. 4. ver.18.

A Sermon preached before the King and Queen at White-Hall, March 23. 16$\frac{89}{90}$. upon Ecclesiast. 11 ver.9.

Christian Magnanimity: A Sermon preached in the Cathedral Church at Worcester, at the Time of the Assizes, Septemb. 21. 1690. upon 2 Tim. 1. ver. 46.

A Sermon preached before the Queen at White-Hall, Mar. 1. 169$\frac{0}{1}$. on Luk. 6. ver. 46.

The Mysteries of the Christian Faith Asserted and Vindicated: In a Sermon preached at St. Lawrence-Jewry in London, April 7. 1691. upon 1 Tim. 1. ver. 15.

A Sermon preached before the Queen at White-Hall, March 13. 169$\frac{1}{2}$. upon Rom. 8. ver. 6. All by the Right Reverend Father in God, Edward, Lord Bishop of Worcester.

The Bishop of Worcester's Charge to the Clergy of his Diocese, in his Primary Visitation, begun at Worcester, Septemb. 11. 1690.

The Folly of Atheism, and (what is now called) Deism; even with Respect to the Present Life. A Sermon preached in the Church of St. Martin in the Fields, March 7. 169$\frac{1}{2}$. Being the First of the Lecture Founded by the Honourable Robert Boyle, Esq; The Second Edition. By Richard Bentley, M.A. Chaplain to the Right Reverend Father in God, Edward, Lord Bishop of Worcester.

Matter and Motion cannot Think: or, A Confutation of Atheism from the Faculties of the Soul. A Sermon preached at St. Mary-le-Bow, April 4. 1692. Being the Second of the Lecture Founded by the Honourable Robert Boyle, Esq; The Second Edition By Richard Bentley, M.A.

[1] Plautus. Virgil. Livius

[2] Μεθοδείας της πλάνης. Eph. 4 14.

[3] Ro. 9.20.

[4] Lucret. l. 3.

[5] Vide Observations upon the Bills of Mortality.

[6] So Diodorus Siculus, lib. 1. c. 2. Φασὶ τοίνυν Αἱγύπτιοι κατὰ τὴν ἐξ ἀρχης των ὅλων γένεσιν προώτους τοὺ: ἀνθρώπους γηνὲσθαι κατὰ τὴν Αἴγυπτον, διά τε τὴν εὐκρασίαν της χώρας, καὶ διὰ τὴν φύσιν του Νείλου, &c.

[7] Vitruvius, lib. 9. c. 4. Lucret. lib. 5. Ut Babylonica Chaldæum doctrina, &c. Apuleius de Deo Socratis: Seu illa (Luna) propio & perpeti fulgore, ut Chaldæi arbitrantur, parte luminis compos, parte altera cassa fulgoris.

[8] Maimonides More Nevochim De Zabiis & Chaldæis. Plato in Cratylo. Diodorus, lib. 1. c. 2. Eusebius Demonst. Evangel. lib. 1. c. 6. Φοίνικας τοιγαρουν καὶ Αἰγυπτίους ωρώτους ἁπάντων κατέχες λόγος ἕλιον καὶ σελήνην καὶ ἀστέρας θεοὺς ἀιποφηναι.

[9] Concil. Laod. Can. 36 Conc. 6. in Trullo. Can. 61. Cod. Just. lib. 9. tit. 18. Cod. Theodos. lib. 9. tit. 16. Βασιλικων lib. 60. tit. 39.