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THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
SIR HENRY DANVERS KNIGHT,
BARON OF DANTESEY:
HIS HONOURABLE AND SINGULAR GOOD LORD.
RIGHT HONOURABLE, As in drawing these and former lines I have had no other aspect or aim, save only to discover the by-paths which lead unto error, and to press forwards by a clear way towards the truth; so in publishing of them I have taught them to look backwards, not forwards, as being more desirous to testify my thankful respect, either to the known honourable patrons of good acts, or furtherers of my private studies, than to feed ambitious fancies with the humours of the time, by obtruding myself upon the dispensers of great dignities or preferments. My resolution being thus set, I save a labour in dedicating these papers to your Lordship, whose honourable favours and munificence towards that famous University (whereof I have long continued an upworthy member, but to which I shall ever continue the love and obedience of a faithful son) do challenge a better testimony of my observance than I can now express, or hope hereafter to present your Lordship withal. But God be thanked, our famous mother hath many sons a great deal more able than myself to undergo this service. Leaving it therefore unto them, I shall give myself abundant satisfaction and contentment for my labours past, and take encouragement to continue the like, if it shall please your Lordship to accept these present, as an undoubted pledge of that thankful respect and observance which I owe unto your Lordship for your favours and bounty towards myself in particular, the memory of which hath been more grateful unto me, in that I was made to feel them before I was so much as known by sight unto
Thus with my best prayers for continuance of your Lordship’s increase of honour and true happiness, I humbly take my leave, and rest
Your Lordship’s in all
duty and observance,
From Penly in Hertfordshire,
March 2, 1624.
THE VERITY, UNITY, AND ATTRIBUTES OF THE DEITY:
DIRECTIONS FOR RECTIFYING OUR BELIEF OR KNOW
LEDGE IN THE FOREMENTIONED POINTS.
ginals of Atheism. ATHEISM and irreligion are diseases so much more dangerous than infidelity or idolatry, as infidelity is than heresy. Every heretic is in part an infidel, but every infidel is not in whole or part an heretic; every atheist is an infidel, so is not every infidel an atheist. The name of heretic is common to all, and proper only to such as either deny or misbelieve any one article in the Apostles' Creed. Infidels all are to be accounted, which either deny or believe not the articles concerning Christ. Such are the Jews, Turks, Mahometans in general, &c., whom no man calls atheists. An atheist he is, qui titubat in limine, which either denies 838 or believes not the very first article in the Creed, God,
or the Divine Providence. Now seeing belief, as it is terminated to the first words of the Creed, is as the diametral line or axis which severs atheism or irreligion from religion, whether true or false, and doth as it were constitute two distinct hemispheres of men; it will be necessary in the first place to examine the original meaning of the first words in the Creed, “I believe in God."
CHAP. I. To believe in God is originally no more than to believe there
is a God, who is in all Things to be believed. Of this Belief, Trust or Confidence in God is the necessary Consequent in collapsed Men; Despair the necessary Consequent of the same or like Belief in collapsed Angels.
1. To believe in God hath gone current so long for as much as to put trust or confidence in him, that now to call it in, or make it go for less, will perhaps be thought an usurpation of authority more than critical, and much greater than befits us. Notwithstanding, if on God's behalf we may plead what lawyers do in cases of the crown, Nullum tempus occurrit regi, that the Ancient of days (unto whose sovereignty all truth is from eternity essentially annexed) may not be prejudiced by antiquity of custom or prescription, especially whose original is erroneous, the case is clear, that to believe in God, is, in their intention which first composed this Creed, no more than to believe there is a God, or to give credence to his word. For justifying this assertion, I must appeal from the English dialect, in which the manner of speech is proper and natural, were it consonant to the meaning of the original, as also from the Latin, in which the phrase being foreign and uncouth must be valued by the Greek, whose stamp and character it evidently bears. Now the Greek πιστεύειν εις τον θεόν, as also the Hebrew phrase, whereunto by sacred writers it was framed, is no more