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of these involves the last, that he He, consequently, who denies Christ who denies Christ denies God. denies the Father also; for he de
This will be proved, if it can be prives us of the only ground upon shown, that to deny Christianity which our belief in his existence is is to sweep away the only sure evi- founded, and sends us back to the dence upon which our belief in the days of Greek and Roman philoexistence of the Supreme Being sophy, when this article might oc«: rests. And in order to make out cur as a conjecture, but could not this, nothing more seems to be ne. be relied upon as supported by full cessary than the establishment of and satisfactory evidence. three facis. The first of these facts And what has the Deist to say is, thal previous to the preaching of to this testimony? Will he deny Christ and his apostles, the existence the facts ? He may as well deny of God was not known. Of this that the sun shines at noon. · Admost important truth the multitude mitting the facts, can the conclusion were profoundly ignorant. A phi- be denied ? It is impossible. But, losopher had sometimes made a admitting both the facts and the inconjecture approaching toward the ference, he will say he has said truth; but it was only conjecture. that still the position of the apostle It was
one guess among many, is not proved; for though Christ says Paley, I believe ; but a guess was the first who clearly and une is not a discovery. He discovers equivocally taught the existence, who proves. The second fact is, and revealed the character of God, that ihis ignorance was not owing to yet his existence is so clearly deany want of either ability or dili- monstrated by his works, that, gence in the senrch. The works of though Christ had never come, men antiquity that yet remain abund- must have discovered it; and antly prove this. To omit many therefore allowing all that has been others, he who has ever read Ci- said to be correct, the highest cero, “ De natura Deorum,” will praise that can be given to him is, admit that finer abilities have not that he first announced a discovery since been applied to the subject. which sooner or later must have The third fact is, that IMMEDIATE- been made. And he has quoted LY after the publication of the gos- the first chapter of Romans, to pel, the existence of God was as show that this was the opinion of firmly believed, and his nalure as Paul, who maintains that the eterwell known as it is at this day. Phi- nal power and Godhead of the losophy has not added one iota to Supreme Being are not only manithe knowledge communicated by fest in his works, but so manifest, the sacred writers—has not 'dis that men were without excuse for covered one feature in the charac- not having discovered it. ter of the Supreme Being which But though all this were correct, they have not revealed. In the it can have little power to invalidate various departments of nature phi- my position. It is not however losophy has discovered many fine correct. The apostle does not and striking illustrations of the die maintain that men were without vine attributes, but has not added
excuse for not having learned from one to their number.
creation the eternal power and GodNow if these three facts be ad- head of the Creator. But he main. mitted, is it not a legitimate, an tains, what must be readily admitinevitable conclusion from them, ted, that after God had revealed that we one our knon ledge of the himself to men, they could have existence of God to the gospel alone ? no excuse for forgetting this ima
portant truth, and adopting idola- being of God is not the discovery try, especially when, independent of reason, but the instruction of of its importance, they were con- revelation? It is impossible. stantly reminded of it by the works If a complete view of the works of nature, and referring, I suppose, of nature were laid open to the into the deluge and other similar in- spection of a being of unperverted stances of God's judgments by the intellect, I do not deny that he revelation of his wrath against all would, even in the absence of all ungodliness and unrighteousness of previous information, acquire the
It is admitted, that when most perfect conviction of the pow, the existence of God is once known, er and wisdom of the Creator. But we can draw striking illustrations would this view communicate even and strong proofs of it from his to such a being all that knowledge works. But this by no means in. of the character of God which the fers the possibility of deriving from deist now possesses, or lead him to these works the first discovery of ascribe to the divinity all those athis existence.
tributes which the deist admits, knows, that to discover a truth, that it would be absurd to deny and to prove it after it has been him? By no means.
Of the moral discovered,
different attributes of the Creator, he would things, and require very different see only obscure intimations,-cer. abilities. Every mathematician can tainly nothing like irresistible denow demonstrate the truth of the monstration, Could be determine Pythagorean theorem, or of the whether the Creator of the world is Newtonian system ; but this by the Supreme God, or only an infe. no means proves that every mathe- rior agent? No: for the works of matician is a Pythagoras or a New- nature afford no data by which this ton. A man may be without ex- proposition can be determined; and cuse for having forgotten a truth even since the promulgation of the which he could never have incurred Gospel, there have been men by censure for not having discovered. whoin the latter alternative has
Having escaped, as I hope I have been adopted. He could infer fairly done, the authority of Paul, with certainty, that the Creator which would have effectually si possessed much wisdom and much lenced me upon the subject, I go power, but that his power and wis. farther, and deny that the existence dom are infinite, -that he is, be of God, though it may be proved, sides, adorned with every moral can ever be discovered from the perfection in the highest degree, works of nature. If the Deist main- that he is One, self-existent and tain that it can, it is incumbent independent, are assertions which upon him to point out at least one he would feel, that the works of na. instance in which the discovery has ture can give him ne title to adbeen made. The world is now vance, because it can furnish him nearly six thousand years old. with no grounds to support. There has been time enough for if even, under the favourable cirthe inquiry. How then does it cumstances which I have supposed, happen that the knowledge of this the knowledge derived from a view truth is, even at this moment, lic of the works of God with regard to mited to those lands that have been his nature would be so small, illuminated with the light of the what great effect can we hope for gospel ? Can the Deist deny this from the application of a fallible fact? He cannot. Can he account
Can he account understanding to an extremely lifor it without admitting that the mited view of these works? He
who maintains that the being and formation to impart, excepting to attributes of God can be demon- . those who view it through the -strated from his works by the light medium of revelation. That the of reason, without the aid of reve. heavens declare the glory of God, lation, maintains that that can be and the firmament showeth his done, which at least never has been handy work, is perfectly true. But done. And even if it should be to whom do they impart this inadmitted, what I know of no reason formation ? No to every man. for admitting, that perhaps one in. Not even to every man who is most dividual in an age might by this attentive to trace the motions and means arrive at a belief in the be- discover the mechanism of the ing, and even some knowledge of planetary system-not to him who the nature of God; yet still the has cultivated physical science great mass of mankind must re- with the greatest care and the main totally unacquainted with a highest success-No, but to the truth, the knowledge of which is Christian, and to him alone. alike essential to all.
Others can see nothing of God in I am aware, that in this asser- his works: To all of them, whetion, I am opposing high authori- ther they be idolaters upon whom ties. But I know of no authority the light of the gospel has never superior to that of unquestionable shone, or philosophers too deeply fact and common sense; and their engaged in searching into the authority is, I think, undeniably on works of nature to think of their my side of the question. I am Creator, the language of the poet well acquainted with the often is alike applicable. quoted sentence of Lord Chesterfield, in which he so very summa- “ Wandering oft with brute unconscious rily and decisively settles the ques. Man marks not th:ce, marks not the mighty tion against me.
But, begging pardon of his Lordship's numerous That, ever busy, wheels the rolling admirers, he was a poor philoso. spheres ; pher, and a still poorer theologian. Works in the secret deep; shoots flaming His reasons, when he chooses to
The fair profusion that o'erspreads the give them, may be as good as
Spring; other people's; but his authority, Flings from the sun direct the flaming in a question like this, is not worth quoting. I conceive Cicero to have Feeds every creature ; hurls the tempest been rather a superior man to Lord And, as on earth this grateful change reChesterfield, and rather better qua
volves, lified to assign its just value to the With transport touches all the springs of a posteriori argument. What va- life.” lue he does assign to it, and what degree of conviction he draws from The eye of faith alone can deit, may be seen by looking into his rive moral instruction and incentroly interesting treatise, De Natue tives to devotion from the book of ra Deorum.
nature, and under the influence of Indeed it is astonishing that those views which the gospel gives, any man with his eyes open should can trace the works of God, not ever have asserted that the being only with advantage, but with a of God is discoverable from thie degree of pleasure, which even works of nature. Nature is a seale science cannot impart. But so far ed book, and has no theological in- is it from being true, that the be
VOL. XXIII. NO. 1.
ing and attributes of God can be more intimate acquaintance with discovered from his works, that the spiritual world, and more raeven after that discovery has been tional and sublime views of the dimade, it will soon again be lost, vine nature, and of the human where there is nothing besides soul, than any other philosopher these works to preserve it. ever had, I make a sufficiently li
If this reasoning be correct, and beral allowance, and can carry my I do not see how it can be contro concessions no farther.” verted, it leaves the deist to choose Let us consider this. You will whether he will renounce the fun examine the Bible just as you do damental article of his creed, or the writings of other philosophers, adopt that system to which alone But do, pray, tell us from what he is indebted for his knowledge source you are to derive that know. of it. It leaves him no rest for ledge which will enable you to ex. the sole of his foot in deism, as it amine either the one or the other? proves that he has derived from You will winnow the chaff from the revelation alone that knowledge of wheat; but where will you find a the being and attributes of God, van? The Christian can separate which no nation, no individual can what is true from what is false in be shown ever to have derived the systems of either ancient or from
modern philosophers, because he I shall suppose then, that the has an unerring standard to the deist, rather than utterly renounce test of which he can bring their his belief in the being of God, sentiments,-the Bible. But supmakes some advances towards posing the Bible never to have Christianity,--identifies his cause been written, where would you have with that of the Socinian, and acquired ability to sit in judgment says, “ I will consider Jesus Christupon men who are so much your su. as a philosopher, or, if you please, periors in every mental qualificaas a teacher peculiarly commission. tion, as the philosophers of Greece ed by God, for the instruction of and Rome? Do you know of any men, but totally denying his di- man who, without the aid of reve. vinity, and the inspiration of the lation, has carried, or can carry sacred writers. I treat their write theological knowledge farther than ings just as I do those of any other they have done? If you do not, it author. I separate the wheat from is surely requiring no very extrathe chaff, -ihe good from the vagant exertion of modesty to redross,-adopt what is true and quire you to admit, that without renounce what is false. In read. the same aid it would be absurd to ing Plato and Xenophon, I take it hope from you an acuteness of infor granted that they have not tellect, a profundity of knowledge, always exactly represented the sen- and an accuracy of reasoning, which Liments of Socrates; and that even such men as Socrates and Cicero when they have done so, Socrates could not boast. To set a Brahmin himself might be wrong.
In the lo correct the mistakes of such men, same manner, in reading the New would be to employ the light of the Testament, I may suppose that moon in order to detect the spots the writers have sometimes mise in the sun ; and where have you taken their master's meaning, and acquired more knowledge ihan the that wben they do not, even he Brahmin, but from the Bible ? By was not exempted from the possi. the Bible alone can
we try the bility of error. And admitting works of heathen philosophers; and that he was
a teacher who had à it, like the sun, can be examined
only by its own light. It is the you object-That it is incompresun of the moral world. Before its hensible and contradictory. That rising, “darkness covered the land, it is incomprehensible I maintain, and gross darkness the people.” as well as you ; that it is contraAnd should it be again extinguish-dictory I deny ; and that neither ed, instead of talking about the the one nor the other is your real theological absurdities of Greek and reason for opposing it, I am strongRoman philosophers, we would soon ly inclined to suspect. be happy to support our pigmy This doctrine is incomprehensispeculationis, and prop our rickety ble. Does this circumstance in the systems, by the authority of these slightest degree diminish the promighty names. They carried know- bàbility of its truth? Speak canledge as far as unassisted reason didly, and you will say, it does not. could carry it. What they left in It is incomprehensible. When you obscurity, revelation alone has have said this, you will add, that brought to light; and their works you do not pretend to say that it is remain a striking commentary on contradictory. For you are a man the text-" The world by wisdom of reason. You will therefore say, knew not God.”
When a proposition is submitted to You are still, then, reduced to me which I understand, I am enthis alternative-Admit your Bible, titled to decide whether it be true or deny your God. It is indeed or false; but when I have admitted ridiculous to say that you will not that I do not understand it, I will admit that view of the character of take care to avoid the absurdity of God that is contained in a book, to adding that it is unreasonable, for, which alone you are indebted for to speak technically, no man can your knowledge even of the existe predicate both incomprehensibility ence of such a being. But the doc- and contradiction of the same thing. trine of the Trinity, you say, is a It is incomprehensible ; but, when stumbling block that you cannot you have renounced the doctrine of get over. That this doctrine is the Trinity, when you have reduced mysterious, I grant, nor, in ex- your notion of the Divine Unity to pressing this mystery, is it easy to the utmost simplicity possible, have confine one's self to language that you then made the nature of God is not liable to abuse. The doc-comprehensible ? No, you have on. trine, represented in the simplest ly removed one incomprehensibility manner I can think of, is this: He in the nature of God; you have who sends the Saviour to assume left a thousand behind. Years, our nature and atone for our sins, ages, are passing over him, yet you is God. He who is so sent is God, cannot say he is older ; new events --and He who applies to our souls are continually taking place before the purchased redemption, and pro- him, yet you cannot say he is wiser duces in us that change which is new creatures are continually add. necessary to fit us for the kingdomed to his kingdom, yet you cannot of heaven, is also God. But while say that his power or dominion are these three possess that perfect increased. He occupies every part unity which is implied in the name, of space, yet part of it is occupied and essential tg the nature of God, by immense masses of matter. And each is spoken of in such a way as though the substance of all these leads us inevitably to conclude that could be compressed, as some wise be possesses a distinct personality, men tell us it could, into the size and has some characteristic peculiar of a nut-shell, still the contradiclo himself. Now to this doctrine tion remains ; God occupies all