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THE HEAVENS DECLARE A DEITY.
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. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world: in them has he set a tabernacle for the sun: which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it; and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof. David.
A DEITY PROVED FROM THE CREATION AND PRESERVATION Of the worlD, AND THE GENERAL CONSENT OF MANKIND.
THE being of a God is one of those truths which scarcely require proof. A proof seems rather an injury, as it supposes doubt. However, as young minds, though not sceptical, are uninformed; it may not be improper to select out of the variety of arguments, which evince this great truth, two or three of the most simple.
We prove the being of a God, first from the creation of the world.
The world must have been produced either by design or by chance. No other mode of origin
can be supposed. Let us see then with which of these characters it is impressed.
The characteristic of the works of design, is a relation of parts, in order to produce an endThe characteristic of the works of chance, is just the reverse. When we see stones, answering each other, laid in the form of a regular building, we immediately say, they were put together by design: but when we see them thrown about in a disorderly heap, we say as confidently, they have been thrown so by chance.
Now, in the world, and all its appendages, there is plainly this appearance of design. One part relates to another; and the whole together produces an end. The sun, for instance, is connected with the earth, by warming it into a proper heat, for the production of its fruits; and furnishing it with rain and dew. The earth again is connected with all the vegetables which it produces, by providing them with proper soils, and juices for their nourishment. These again are connected with animals, by supplying them with food. And the whole together produces the great end of sustaining the lives of innumerable
Nor is design shown only in the grand fabric of the world, and all its relative appendages: it is equally shown in every part. It is seen in every animal, adapted in all its peculiarities to its proper mode of life. It is seen in every vegetable, furnished with parts exactly suited to its situation. In the least, as well as in the greatest of nature's productions, it is every where apparent. The little creeper upon the wall, extending its
tenacious fibres, draws nourishment from the crannies of the stones, and flourishes where no other plant could live.
If then the world, and every part of it, are thus marked with the characters of design, there can be no difficulty in acknowledging the Author of such design, of such amazing contrivance and variety, to be a Being of infinite wisdom and power. We call a man ingenious, who makes even a common globe, with all the parts of the earth delineated upon it. What shall we say then of the Author of the great original itself, in all its grandeur, and furnished with all its various inhabitants?
The argument drawn from the preservation of the world, is indeed rather the last argument advanced a step further.
If chance could be supposed to produce a regular form, yet it is certainly beyond the highest degree of credulity, to suppose it could continue this regularity for any time. But we find it has been continued; we find, that near six thousand years have made no change in the order and harmony of the world. The sun's action upon the earth hath ever been regular. The production of trees, plants, and herbs, hath ever been uniform. Every seed produces now the same fruit it ever did. Every species of animal life is still the same. Could chance continue this regular arrangement? Could any thing continue it, but the hand of an omnipotent God?
Lastly, we see this great truth, the being of a God, witnessed by the general consent of mankind. This general consent must arise either
from tradition, or it must be the result of men's own reasoning. Upon either supposition, it is an argument equally strong. If the first supposition be allowed, it will be difficult to assign any source of this tradition, but God himself. If the second, it can scarcely be supposed, that all mankind, in different parts of the world, should agree in the belief of a thing, which never existed. For though doubts have arisen concerning this general belief, yet it is now pretty well ascertained, from the accounts of travellers, that no nation hath yet been discovered, among whom some traces of religious worship have not been found.
Be it so, says the objector; yet still we find single persons, even in civilized countries, and some of them men of enlarged capacities, who have not only had their doubts on this subject, but have proclaimed aloud their disbelief of a divine Being.
We answer, that it is more than probable, no man's infidelity on this head was ever thoroughly settled. Bad men, rather endeavour to convince themselves, than are really convinced. But even on a supposition, that a few such persons could be found, what is their testimony against so great a majority, as the rest of mankind? The light of the sun is universally acknowledged, though it happens, that, now and then, a man may be born blind.
But since, it seems, there are difficulties in supposing a divine Creator, and preserver of the world, what system of things does the atheist suppose attended with fewer? He sees the world produced before him. He sees it hath been
created; and is preserved. Some account of this matter must be given. If ours displease him, let us have his.
The experiment hath been tried. We have had many atheistical creeds; none of which hath stood the test of being handed down with any degree of credit into future times.
The atheist's great argument indeed against a Deity, is levelled at the apparent injustice of his government. It was an objection of ancient date, and might have had its weight in heathen times; but it is one of the blessings, which attends Christianity, that it satisfies all our doubts on this head; and gives us a rational and easy solution of this poignant objection. What if we observe an inaccurate distribution of the things of this world! What if virtue be depressed, and vice triumphant! It is nothing, says the voice of religion, to him who believes this life to be an inconsiderable part of his being: a point only in the expanse of eternity: who believes he is sent into this world merely to prepare himself for a better. This world, he knows, is intended neither for reward nor punishment. Happiness unquestionably attends virtue even here, and misery, vice: but it is not the happiness of a splendid station, but of a peaceful mind; nor is it the misery of low circumstances, but of a guilty conscience. The things of this world are not, in their own nature, connected either with happiness or misery. Attended sometimes by one, and sometimes by the other, they are merely the means of trial. One man is tempted with riches, and another with poverty; but God intends neither an elevated,