Reference > Quotations > S. Austin Allibone, comp. > Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay
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S. Austin Allibone, comp.  Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay.  1880.
 
Atheism
 
  After having treated of these false zealots in religion, I cannot forbear mentioning a monstrous species of men, who one would not think had any existence in nature, were they not to be met with in ordinary conversation—I mean the zealots in atheism. One would fancy that these men, though they fall short, in every other respect, of those who make a profession of religion, would at least outshine them in this particular, and be exempt from that single fault which seems to grow out of the imprudent fervours of religion. But so it is, that infidelity is propagated with as much fierceness and contention, wrath and indignation, as if the safety of mankind depended on it.
Joseph Addison: Spectator, No. 185.    
  1
 
  Atheism, by which I mean a disbelief of a Supreme Being, and consequently of a future state, under whatsoever titles it shelter itself, may likewise very reasonably deprive a man of this cheerfulness of temper. There is something so particularly gloomy and offensive to human nature in the prospect of non-existence, that I cannot but wonder, with many excellent writers, how it is possible for a man to outlive the expectation of it.
Joseph Addison: Spectator, No. 381.    
  2
 
  A wise man, that lives up to the principles of reason and virtue, if one considers him in his solitude, as in taking in the system of the universe, observing the mutual dependence and harmony by which the whole frame of it hangs together, beating down his passions, or swelling his thoughts with magnificent ideas of Providence, makes a nobler figure in the eye of an intelligent being, than the greatest conqueror amidst all the pomps and solemnities of a triumph. On the contrary, there is not a more ridiculous animal than an atheist in his retirement. His mind is incapable of rapture or elevation. He can only consider himself as an insignificant figure in a landscape, and wandering up and down in a field or a meadow, under the same terms as the meanest animals about him, and as subject to as total a mortality as they; with this aggravation, that he is the only one amongst them who lies under the apprehension of it!  3
  In distresses, he must be of all creatures the most helpless and forlorn; he feels the whole pressure of a present calamity, without being relieved by the memory of anything past, or the prospect of anything that is to come. Annihilation is the greatest blessing that he proposes to himself, and a halter or a pistol the only refuge he can fly to. But, if you would behold one of these gloomy miscreants in his poorest figure, you must consider him under the terrors or at the approach of death.
Joseph Addison and Sir Richard Steele: Tatler, No. 111.    
  4
 
  I had rather believe all the fables in the legend, and the Talmud, and the Alcoran, than that this universal frame is without a mind: and therefore God never wrought miracles to convince atheism, because his ordinary works convince it. It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion: for while the mind of man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no farther; but when it beholdeth the chain of them confederate, and linked together, it must needs fly to providence and Deity.
Francis Bacon: Essay XVII.: Of Atheism.    
  5
 
  They that deny a God destroy a man’s nobility; for certainly man is of kin to the beasts by his body; and if he be not of kin to God by his spirit, he is a base and ignoble creature. It destroys, likewise, magnanimity, and the raising human nature.
Francis Bacon: Essay XVII.: Of Atheism.    
  6
 
  Not that we are so low and base as their atheism would depress us; not walking statues of clay, not the sons of brute earth, whose final inheritance is death and corruption.
Richard Bentley.    
  7
 
  There are several topics used against atheism and idolatry; such as the visible marks of divine wisdom and goodness in the works of the creation, the vital union of souls with matter, and the admirable structure of animate bodies.
Richard Bentley.    
  8
 
  The mechanical atheist, though you grant him his laws of mechanism, is inextricably puzzled and baffled with the first formation of animals.
Richard Bentley.    
  9
 
  We may proceed yet further, with the atheist; and convince him that not only his principle is absurd, but his consequences also as absurdly deduced from it.
Richard Bentley.    
  10
 
  Whatsoever atheists think on, or whatsoever they look on, all do administer some reasons for suspicion and diffidence, lest possibly they may be in the wrong; and then it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!
Richard Bentley.    
  11
 
  No atheist, as such, can be a true friend, an affectionate relation, or a loyal subject.
Richard Bentley.    
  12
 
  If the atheists would live up to the ethics of Epicurus himself, they would make few or no proselytes from the Christian religion.
Richard Bentley.    
  13
 
  It is well known, both from ancient and modern experience, that the very boldest atheists, out of their debauches and company, when they chance to be surprised with solitude or sickness, are the most suspicious, timorous, and despondent wretches in the world.
Richard Bentley.    
  14
 
  All creatures ignorant of their own natures, could not universally in the whole kind, and in every climate and country, without any difference in the whole world, tend to a certain end, if some overruling wisdom did not preside over the world and guide them: and if the creatures have a Conductor, they have a Creator; all things are “turned round about by his counsel, that they may do whatsoever he commands them, upon the face of the world in the earth.” So that in this respect the folly of atheism appears. Without the owning a God, no account can be given of those actions of creatures, that are an imitation of reason.
Stephen Charnock: Attributes.    
  15
 
 
 
  A secret atheism, or a partial atheism, is the spring of all the wicked practices in the world: the disorders of the life spring from the ill dispositions of the heart.  16
  For the first, every atheist is a grand fool. If he were not a fool, he would not imagine a thing so contrary to the stream of the universal reason of the world, contrary to the rational dictates of his own soul, and contrary to the testimony of every creature, and link, in the chain of creation: if he were not a fool, he would not strip himself of humanity, and degrade himself lower than the most despicable brute.
Stephen Charnock: Attributes.    
  17
 
  As when a man comes into a palace, built according to the exactest rule of art, and with an unexceptionable conveniency for the inhabitants, he would acknowledge both the being and skill of the builder; so whosoever shall observe the disposition of all the parts of the world, their connection, comeliness, the variety of seasons, the swarms of different creatures, and the mutual offices they render to one another, cannot conclude less, than it was contrived by an infinite skill, effected by infinite power, and governed by infinite wisdom. None can imagine a ship to be orderly conducted without a pilot; nor the parts of the world to perform their several functions without a wise guide; considering the members of the body cannot perform theirs, without the active presence of the soul. The atheist, then, is a fool to deny that which every creature in his constitution asserts, and thereby renders himself unable to give a satisfactory account of that constant uniformity in the motions of the creatures.
Stephen Charnock: Attributes.    
  18
 
  History doth not reckon twenty professed atheists in all ages in the compass of the whole world: and we have not the name of any one absolute atheist upon record in Scripture: yet it is questioned, whether any of them, noted in history with that infamous name, were downright deniers of the existence of God, but rather because they disparaged the deities commonly worshipped by the nations where they lived, as being of a clearer reason to discern that those qualities, vulgarly attributed to their gods, as lust and luxury, wantonness and quarrels, were unworthy of the nature of a god.
Stephen Charnock: Attributes.    
  19
 
  Beyond all credulity is the credulousness of atheists, who believe that chance could make the world, when it cannot build a house.
Dr. Samuel Clarke.    
  20
 
  A blind or deaf man has infinitely more reason to deny the being, or the possibility of the being, of light or sounds than an atheist can have to deny or doubt of the existence of God.
Dr. Samuel Clarke.    
  21
 
  An atheist, if you take his word for it, is a very despicable mortal. Let us describe him by his tenet, and copy him a little from his own original. He is, then, no better than a heap of organized dust, a stalking machine, a speaking head without a soul in it. His thoughts are bound by the laws of motion, his actions are all prescribed. He has no more liberty than the current of a stream or the blast of a tempest; and where there is no choice there can be no merit.
Jeremy Collier.    
  22
 
  Atheism is the result of ignorance and pride; of strong sense and feeble reasons; of good eating and ill living.  23
  It is the plague of society, the corrupter of manners, and the underminer of property.
Jeremy Collier.    
  24
 
  It is a fine observation of Plato in his Laws that atheism is a disease of the soul before it becomes an error of the understanding.
William Fleming.    
  25
 
  Atheists are confounded with Pantheists, such as Xenophanes among the ancients, or Spinoza and Schelling among the moderns, who, instead of denying God, absorb everything into him.
William Fleming.    
  26
 
  Those that would be genteelly learned need not purchase it at the dear rate of being atheists.
Joseph Glanvill.    
  27
 
  Those the impiety of whose lives makes them regret a deity, and secretly wish there were none, will greedily listen to atheistical notions.
Joseph Glanvill.    
  28
 
  Settle it therefore in your minds, as a maxim never to be effaced or forgotten, that atheism is an inhuman, bloody, ferocious system, equally hostile to every useful restraint and to every virtuous affection; that leaving nothing above us to excite awe, nor round us to awaken tenderness, it wages war with heaven and with earth: its first object is to dethrone God, its next to destroy man.
Robert Hall: Modern Infidelity.    
  29
 
  The atheists taken notice of among the ancients are left branded upon the records of history.
John Locke.    
  30
 
  Men are atheistical because they are first vicious; and question the truth of Christianity because they hate the practice.
Robert South.    
  31
 
  Though he were really a speculative atheist, yet if he would but proceed rationally he could not however be a practical atheist, nor live without God in this world.
Robert South.    
  32
 
  When men live as if there were no God, it becomes expedient for them that there should be none; and then they endeavour to persuade themselves so.
John Tillotson.    
  33
 
  The atheist can pretend no obligation of conscience why he should dispute against religion.
John Tillotson.    
  34
 
  The true reason why any man is an atheist is because he is a wicked man: religion would curb him in his lusts; and therefore he casts it off, and puts all the scorn upon it he can.
John Tillotson.    
  35
 
  The atheist, in case things should fall out contrary to his belief or expectation, hath made no provision for this case; if contrary to his confidence it should prove in the issue that there is a God, the man is lost and undone forever.
John Tillotson.    
  36
 
  If the atheist, when he dies, should find that his soul remains, how will this man be amazed and blanked!
John Tillotson.    
  37
 
  It is the common interest of mankind to punish all those who would seduce men to atheism.
John Tillotson.    
  38
 
  The system, then, of reasoning from our own conjectures as to the necessity of the Most High doing so and so, tends to lead a man to proceed from the rejection of his own form of Christianity to a rejection of revelation altogether. But does it stop here? Does not the same system lead naturally to Atheism also? Experience shows that that consequence, which reason might have anticipated, does often actually take place.
Richard Whately: Annot. on Bacon’s Essay, Of Atheism.    
  39
 
 
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