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ment of the being and eternity of God: and, though there are many other demonstrations which lead us to this great truth, I do not think we ought to lay aside any proofs in this matter, which the light of reason has suggested to us, especially when it is such an one as has been urged by men famous for their penetration and force of understanding, and which appears altogether conclusive to those who will be at the pains to examine it.
"Having thus considered that eternity which is past, according to the best idea we can frame of it, I shall now draw up those several articles on this subject, which are dictated to us by the light of reason, and which may be looked upon as a creed of a philosopher in this great point.
'First, it is certain that no being could have made itself; for, if so, it must have acted before it was, which is a contradiction.
6 Secondly, That therefore some being must have existed from all eternity.
'Thirdly, That whatever exists after the manner of created beings, or according to any notions which we have of existence, could not have existed from eternity.
Fourthly, That this Eternal Being must therefore be the great Author of nature, "the Ancient of Days," who, being at an infinite distance in his perfections from all finite and created beings, exists in a quite different manner from them, and in a manner of which they can have no idea.
'I know that several of the schoolmen, who would not be thought ignorant of any thing, have pretended to explain the manner of God's existence, by telling us that he comprehends infinite duration in every moment: that eternity is with him a punctum stans, a fixed point; or, which is as good sense, an infinite instant; that nothing
with reference to his existence is either past or to come: to which the ingenious Mr. Cowley alludes in his description of heaven :
"Nothing is there to come, and nothing past,
For my own part, I look upon these propositions as words that have no ideas annexed to them and think men had better own their ignorance than advance doctrines by which they mean nothing, and which, indeed, are self-contradictory. We cannot be too modest in our disquisitions when we meditate on him, who is environed with so much glory and perfection, who is the source of being, the fountain of all that existence which we and his whole creation derive from him. Let us therefore with the utmost humility acknowledge, that, as some being must necessarily have existed from eternity, so this being does exist after an incomprehensible manner, since it is impossible for a being to have existed from eternity after our manner or notions of existence. Revelation confirms these natural dictates of reason in the accounts which it gives us of the divine existence, where it tells us, that he is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever; that he is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and ending; that a thousand years are with him as one day, and one day as a thousand years: by which, and the like expressions, we are taught that his existence with relation to time or duration is infinitely different from the existence of any of his creatures, and consequently that it is impossible for us to frame any adequate conceptions of it.
In the first revelation which he makes of his own being he entitles himself, "I Am that I Am;" and when Moses desires to know what
name he shall give him in his embassy to Pharaoh, he bids him say that "I Am hath sent you." Our great Creator, by this revelation of himself, does in a manner exclude every thing else from a real existence, and distinguishes himself from his creatures as the only being which truly and really exists. The ancient Platonic notion, which was drawn from speculations of eternity, wonderfully agrees with this revelation which God has made of himself. There is nothing, say they, which in reality exists, whose existence, as we call it, is pieced up of past, present, and to come. Such a flitting and successive existence is rather a shadow of existence, and something which is like it, than existence itself. He only properly exists whose existence is entirely present; that is, in other words, who exists in the most perfect manner, and in such a manner as we have no idea of.
I shall conclude this speculation with one useful inference. How can we sufficiently prostrate ourselves and fall down before our Maker, when we consider that ineffable goodness and wisdom which contrived this existence for finite natures? What must be the overflowings of that good-will, which prompted our Creator to adapt existence to beings in whom it is not necessary; especially when we consider that he himself was before in the complete possession of existence and of happiness, and in the full enjoyment of eternity; What man can think of himself as called out and separated from nothing, of his being made a conscious, a reasonable and happy creature, in short, of being taken in as a sharer of existence, and a kind of partner in eternity, without being swallowed up in wonder, in praise, in adoration! It is indeed a thought
too big for the mind of man, and rather to be entertained in the secrecy of devotion, and in the silence of his soul, than to be expressed by words. The Supreme Being has not given us powers of faculties sufficient to extol and magnify such unutterable goodness.
"It is however some comfort to us, that we shall be always doing what we shall be never able to do, and that a work which cannot be finished will however be the work of eternity.'
WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 8, 1714.
Tenerorum lusor amorum.
OVID. Trist. 3. El. li. 73. Love the soft subject of his sportive muse.
I HAVE just received a letter from a gentleman, who tells me he has observed, with no small concern, that my papers have of late been very barren in relation to love: a subject which, when agreeably handled, can scarcely fail of being well received by both sexes.
If my invention therefore should be almost exhausted on this head, he offers to serve under me in the quality of a love-casuist; for which place he conceives himself to be thoroughly qualified, having made this passion his principal study, and observed it in all its different shapes and appearances, from the fifteenth to the fortyfifth year of his age.
He assures me with an air of confidence, which I hope proceeds from his real abilities, that he does not doubt of his giving judgment to the satisfaction of the parties concerned on the most
nice and intricate cases which can happen in an amour; as,
How great the contraction of the fingers must be before it amounts to a squeeze by the hand.
What can be properly termed an absolute debial from a maid, and what from a widow.
What advances a lover may presume to make, after having received a pat upon his shoulder from his mistress's fan.
Whether a lady, at the first interview, may allow an humble servant to kiss her hand.
How far it may be permitted to caress the maid in order to succeed with the mistress.
What constructions a man may put upon a smile, and in what cases a frown goes for nothing. do ser
On what occasions a sheepish look may vice, &c.
As a farther proof of his skill, he also sent me several maxims in love, which he assures me are the result of a long and profound reflection, some of which I think myself obliged to communicate to the public, not remembering to have seen them before in any author.
'There are more calamities in the world arising from love than from hatred.
"Love is the daughter of idleness, but the mother of disquietude.
'Men of grave natures, says Sir Francis Bacon, are the most constant; for the saine reason men should be more constant than women.
'The gay part of mankind is most amorous, the serious most loving.
'A coquette often loses her reputation while she preserves her virtue.
'A prude often preserves her reputation when she has lost her virtue.