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happiness of the present and future generations;-I plead for the prosperity of Zion and the world. Let these weighty motives constrain you to discharge this delightful, this profitable, this imperious duty. Happy, thrice happy the family! where God's Word is read, where suitable instructions are given, and where prayer and praise are wont to be offered. God loveth, and will bless the dwellings of Jacob. AMEN
ASSISTANT TO FAMILY RELIGION.
A SYSTEM OF NATURAL AND REVEALED RELIGION, IN THE FORM OF QUESTION AND ANSWER, ACCOMPANIED WITH SCRIPTURE PROOFS, IN THIRTY-TWO CHAPTERS.
The existence and character of God, and the condition and duties of man, as manifested by the light of nature.*
Question 1. How does it appear, that there is
Answer. From our own existence and what is seen existing around us.(a)
(a) Ps. 19. 1–3. The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth his handy work. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Rom. 1. 19, 20. Because that which may be known of God is manifest in (among) them, for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead.
* By the light of nature is meant the instruction respecting doctrine and duty, which may be obtained by the right use of man's rational and moral faculties in considering the being and perfections of
Q. 2. How do these things prove the being of God?
A. By their very existence, and by the design discoverable in them.
1. By their very existence. The visible universe is ever changing, and is, therefore, not eternal; for that, which is eternal, is self-existent, and that, which is self-existent, admits of no change in kind or degree. All things, then, which are seen, began to exist. Consequently, they either created themselves, came into existence by chance, or were created by some other being. But, self-creation is a contradiction; for it supposes, that a being can act before it exists, or, that an effect is the cause of itself. Creation, by chance, is absurd; for to say, that a thing is produced, and yet, that there is no cause of its production, is to say, that something is effected, when it is effected by nothing, that is, not effected at all. All things, then, that do appear, must have been created by some other being, for there is no other possible supposition. And the being, who created all these things, is God.
2. The design, discoverable in the constitution, regularity, harmony, and government of the visible universe, proves the being of God. Design implies a designer, and this designer must exist before the things designed. Consequently, the design, manifest in all things existing around us, proves a designer, and this designer must have been God; for no being but God could have formed this design.
Q. 3. Is there any other evidence of the being of God from the light of nature?
A. There is. The impression upon the minds of men generally, that there is a Supreme Being, and the harmonious belief of all nations, whether
God, and the relation He sustains to the human race, and they sustain to Him, and to themselves, and to one another, as manifested by the works, of creation and providence;-or the knowledge of doctrine and duty, which may be acquired in all ways other than the Bible.
Heathen, Mahometan, Jewish, or Christian, in the existence of such a Being, is a strong presumption of the existence of God. Such a general belief in the existence of a God must be supposed to have its foundation in the reality of His existence.
What does the light of nature teach concerning the nature or perfections of God?
A. It teaches His self-existence, eternity, immutability, omnipotence, independence, omnipresence, omniscience, unity, goodness, and wisdom.*
What relation does God sustain towards man, discoverable by the light of nature?
A. The relation of Creator, Preserver, Proprietor, Benefactor, Lawgiver, Governor, and Disposer.
Are all men every where under indispensible obligations to believe in the being of God?
A. They are. The evidence, which he has afforded them of His existence by the light of nature, binds them to this duty. Consequently, Atheism, or the disbelief of God in any, even in the Heathen, is awfully criminal; because it rejects the instructions, and discredits the testimony of God Himself, in the works of His hands. (6)
Q. 7. Are mankind naturally prone to resist and reject the evidence of God's existence?
A. They are. This fact appears from experience and observation.()
(b) Rom. 1. 20, 21. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, eren His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that when they knew (might have known) God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
(c) Rom. 1. 28. And even as they did not like to retain Gòd'in their knowledge, God gave them over to å reprobate
Perhaps it is not certain, that the perfect goodness and wisdom of God are discovered from the mere light of nature by depraved man, It is rather doubtful, whether the unity of God can be fully proved aside from the Bible. For a full consideration of the perfections of Goa, the reader is referred to Chapter III.
Q. 8. Whence does this proneness arise?
A. From the depravity of their hearts. This is the only reason why any in Pagan, Mahometan, or Christian countries are Atheists.(a)
Q. 9. Is a belief in the existence of God an essential doctrine of religion?
A. It is the very first and fundamental principle of all true religion.(0)
Q: 10. Is it important to have just views of God?
A. It is highly important; for without them we shall naturally and necessarily be led astray in religious sentiments and practices.(a)
Q. 11. What duties does the light of nature teach as incumbent on man to perform?
A. It teaches his duty of loving, obeying, serv, ing, worshipping, and enjoying God; and his moral duties towards his fellow creatures? (6)
mind, to do those things which are not convenient. Ps. 82.5. They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness. Job 21. 14, 15. Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. What is the Almighty that we should serve him, and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him!
(d) Ps. 14. 1. The fool hath said in his heart there is no Gòd. Ps. 10. 4. The wicked through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God; God is not in all his thoughts.
(e) Heb. 11. 6. But without faith it is impossible to please hin; for he that cometh to God inust believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
(f) John 4. 24. God is a spirit, and they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth. Rom. 1. 2225. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves; who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for evermore.
(g) Rom. 2. 14, 15. For when the Gentiles which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law,