« PreviousContinue »
infinite goodness. The author of our being has provided us with senses, which are quite sufficient to guide us, had that been his only object, for the mere purposes of our existence, without any other aid. But his bounty was not so satisfied. He has mercifully superadded the sensation of pleasure to each, insomuch, that we can never see or hear or smell or taste or touch any object, which is adapted to the natural conformation of the respective organs of those senses, without receiving pleasure. To see a beautiful form is not only a sight, but a pleasure. To hear a beautiful sound, is not only hearing, but pleasure. The same also may be said of inhaling a fragrant scent, or tasting good food ; and many of our pleasures arise likewise in the same manner from feeling. Surely the superaddition of pleasure to our other sensations is a sufficient evidence of the benevolence of the Deity ; a proof, that, when he destined us to exist, he designed us to be happy also.
We ascribe therefore to the supreme author of the universe the three qualities of power, wisdom, and goodness: and, if he possess them at all, he must possess them infinitely, because there is by the very necessity of the case no superior power to limit his perfections.
Moreover, there can be but one such being : for, were there more than one, either a diversity would appear in their works, or at least the uniformity, which we actually behold, instead of being explained, would be rendered still more inexplicable than before. Were there two Gods, either one of them must be necessary to the existence of the other, in which case that one God would be the being, for whose existence we contend, or else both must be necessary to each other; and then still from the necessity of the thing and the force of all the foregoing arguments there must be some higher being, equally necessary to both, who alone is himself the true God. But yet further, when we come strictly to weigh in our minds the idea, which we have, of two gods, what is it, that we weigh, but the idea of two first causes, two eternal beings, two self-existent, omnipresent, almighty beings, two creators and governors of the universe, both invested with the same unlimited attri
butes of absolute perfection ? and consequently each of these two ideas is destructive of the other.
Thus plainly do the works of nature declare both the being, the unity, and the moral attributes of God. And this perhaps is of all arguments, which can be collected, in proof of a divine being, the most pleasing and satisfactory; the most pleasing, because the contemplation of nature is one of our most pleasing employments; and the most satisfactory, because there is nothing in the universe more plain than the marks of a contriving mind, impressed upon the several parts of it: for the almighty has framed the world with such wisdom, that, while he is bimself invisible, every part of his works bears witness to his existence. The argument too is yet further valuable for the extent, to which it may be carried: for we may prove from it not only the existence of God, but all the more essential attributes of divinity, while, every thing, that we see and meet, furnishing an additional and separate testimony to its truth, the force of it is continually accumulating.
1 John v. 9.
This is the witness of God, which he hath testified
of his son.
No use was made in the morning of the testimony of scripture, because it seemed desirable to shew, that independently of that authority God had not left himself without witness, inasmuch as he gives us rain from Heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness, and also, that 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.
But in fact the very existence of a Bible will furnish us with a distinct and new proof of the
existence of God: and this is the third head, from which I hope to establish that conclusion.
In order to lay a foundation for this argument, no concession is necessary with respect to the truth or authority of the sacred volume. All, that is required to be admitted, is, that there exists a book, consisting of various detached compositions, but which are looked upon, as one work, and called the bible. Now this book was not written originally in our days. No one pretends it. Neither was it written in the days of our fathers. Otherwise among all our fathers some one would have been found to tell us so. But in fact we do not possess any book in the English language, so old as not to allude to it, not indeed in its present form, but in a Latin version; and we must either be prepared to maintain, that nearly all the works in the English language were composed but yesterday, or allow, that the bible was before them all. Even in its present form we have good evidence of its having subsisted for more than two hundred years in citations from it by a succession of authors, who could not have lived before