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SYSTEM OF DIVINE TRUTH.
Evidence of the being of a God.
BY A GOD is meant an intelligent being, who is infinite, self-existent, immutable, omnipotent, and holy ; a being, who is the cause of all things, but who is himself uncaused and eternal. And, that such a being exists, by a necessity of nature, however mysterious his existence may appear, is made evident by several arguments.
i. The existence of God is evident from our own existence, and from the existence of the whole visible universe. Thus reasons the Apostle Paul, to prove the point before us : 6 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.” That we ourselves, and all things which we behold, had a Maker, had a cause adequate to their production, is a very clear dictate of reason. Common sense, in early childhood, as well as in advanced
is always led to infer a cause from a view of its effects. All things which we behold are evidently mutable, and dependent; and consequently finite. Even the intellectual as well as the material system, so far as it falls under our notice, is mutable and dependent. Our minds, as well as our bodies, are subject to numberless changes, which proves that they are finite and dependent; and that they are not causes, but effects ; implying an antecedent cause. We observe further,
It is, in the nature of things, impossible for any thing to be its own cause. This would imply an agency prior to the existence of the agent ; which is an absurdity. Also, to suppose that the visible system of finite beings and things sprang out of nothing by accident, without any cause whatever, would subvert all reasoning from effect to cause; and would be an affront to common sense and experience. To suppose
that the universe which we behold is uncaused, uncreated and eternal; and has passed through an infinite series of changes and revolutions, is a gross absurdity. For the idea of a series and succession, implies a beginning, progress, and variation; which is inconsistent with all order and stability ; and indeed inconsistent with the idea of causation. Whatever exists by an eternal necessity of nature, admits of no change, no variableness, nor shadow of turning. Reasoning therefore from effect to cause, which is a legitimate and conclųsive mode of reasoning, we come clearly to the conclusion, that there inust have been, by a necessity of nature, an eternal, self-existent, immutable and omnipotent being, who is the cause of all things; and who will be found, in the sequel, to be, of necessity, infinitely holy. This glorious being is called GOD, THE LORD, or JEHOVAH.
From the nature of this argument, it is manifest, that the great cause of all things is an intelligent being. For how is it possible, that a being void of intelligence, should produce intelligence in others ? It is indeed absurd to suppose, that a material being can produce an immaterial. How can the earth produce a man? Or even a beast ? It is as contrary to reason to suppose that inert, lifeless inatter can be the cause of intelligence, as to suppose, that nothing can be the cause of something. In mere matter, there is evidently, no intelligence; of course, no agency, no efficiency, in the production of any thing.
2. i ke being of a God is very evident, not only from the existence of the heavens and the earth, and all creatures and things in the universe; as being the effects of infinite power and intelligence; but also from the manner, in which all things have been produced, preserved and
improved. In the creation and disposal of all creatures and things, and of mankind in particular; there are such manifestations of infinitely wise design and contrivance, as demonstrate the being and the leading attributes of God. Man is truly said to be fearfully and wonderfully made; and infinitely important are the purposes to be answered by his creation. Ile created all things to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers, in heavenly places might be known, by the church, the inanifold wisdom of God.” How marvellous are the effects of infinitely wise design and contrivance, in the works by which God makes himself known to a sinful and benighted world ! and even to those who say in their hearts, * There is no God!" Truly there is a God," who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working." And, for any to suppose, that the countless millions of animal and rational beings in this world, all furnished with the means of subsistence and self-defence, and all adapted and diréeted to the most important purposes, into existence and operation by chance ; is altogether unreasonable and absurd. Of chance, there can be no distinct idea. It is altogether chimerical. It excludes all idea of agency or causality; and is a mere nonentity. But such is the order, harmony, and beauty of what are called the works of creation and providence; so bright are the footsteps of infinitely wise intelligence and design, in all the events wlnich take place before our eyes ; that we are led to exclaim with the Psalmist,“ Verily, He is a God, who judgeth in the earth.” Pertinent to the present inquiry is the celebration of the wisdom, power and glory of the Lord, by the holy Psalmist. Speaking of the work's of creation and providence, he exclaims, O Lord, how manifold are thy works, in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches. So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts. There go the ships, there is that Leviathan which thou hast made to play therein. These all wait upon thee, that thou mayst give them their meat
That thou givest them they gather. Thou openest thine hand; they are filled with good. Thou bi
in due season.
dest thy face; they are troubled. Thou takest away tlieir breath; they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created ; and thou renewest the face of the earth. The glory of the Lord enduretk forever: the Lord shall rejoice in his works.”
Thus evidently it appears that there is a God, from the manner in which all things take place, and from the mani. festations of infinite wisdom and power, which are made, not only in the production of all creatures and things; but in their direction to the most important ends and purposes. The
existence of effects is a demonstration of an adequate cause : and if the effects be glorious, such also must be the cause. As the visible heavens are glorious; so it follows, that " the heavens declare the glory of the Lord, and the firmament sheweth his handy work."
3. In the view of candid and pious minds, in particular, the bible itself, considered as an effect, and an effect which man could not produce; is a demonstration of the being of a God. Aside from all the testimonies of the bible, to this great truth, the very nature, tendency and effects of the book itself are sufficient. A book so full of wisdom and knowledge, so pure and holy, so hostile to the corruptions of the human heart, could never have been the effect of human efforts. The efforts of natural men are indeed uniformly in opposition to the bible. But, were the most candid and learned men, to make their utmost exertions to form a bible, they would utterly fail for lack of wisdom and knowledge. To form such a book, and give it credit and influence, in this wicked world, as far exceeds the wisdom and power of man, as to create a world. If the heavens declare the existence and glory of the Lord; the scriptures do it more abundantly. They declare a holy law, and a holy gospel. They reveal truths, which man could never have discovered; and to which the human heart is violently opposed. The scriptures establish that wisdom, which even some of the most wise and learned men call foolishness. For the bible confirms the gospel revelation, which is a stumbling block as well as foolishness. The nature of the bible is to exalt God, and to abase the hearts of sinful men. It considers men
as being dead in trespasses and sins, and under the curse of the law; and as depending on the blood of atonement for pardon and salvation. It promises no reward to the best deeds of the unregenerate. On the whole, it exhibits a system of religion, perfectly obnoxious to every natural heart. And it declares, in plain terms, that " the natural Than receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Now if there had been no God, no being infinitely wise, powerful and holy; how could such a book as this have been invented and imposed on mankind, as a divine revelation ? Had mankind embraced a forgery for their bible, it would have been of a nature very different from the bible which we possess. The same evidence of the existence and
of the Deity is derived from the effects of the bible. Contrary to all human calculation or conjecture, the bible has produced effects most extensive, powerful, and salutary. In whatever age, nation or society, it has been embraced heartily, as the system of divine truth, and the only rule of faith and practice; the effects have been most precious. But, had there been no God, no divine influence; no superintending providence; how could any blessed and happy effects have been produced by the bible ? How could the scriptures, and they only, have produced a state of civilization
barbarians * How could they ever produce a conviction of sin ; and a conversion of the heart to Christ, and to the doctrines of the cross ?
Such are the nature and effects of the holy scriptures, as prove, to the full satisfaction of all serious and candid minds, that there is a supreme and infinite Being, who is the cause of all things; and that there is a universal, superintending providence over all the events of the universe. The bible is as evidently the workmanship of an infinitely wise, holy and omnipotent God, as the temple of Solomon was the workmanship of wise, skilful and faithful artíficers. Did not mankind say in their hearts, " there is no God," no man, with the bible in his hands,