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nor a depressed situation, as the ultimate completion of his will.
Besides, if worldly prosperity even was the indication of God's favour, yet good men may have failings and imprudences enough about them to deserve misfortune; and bad men virtues, which may deserve success. Why should imprudence, though joined with virtue, partake of its reward? Or the generous purpose share in the punishment, though connected with vice?
Thus then we see the being of a God is the universal creed of nature. But though nature could investigate the simple truth, she could not preserve it from errour. Nature merely takes her notions from what she sees, and what she hears, and hath ever moulded her gods in the likeness of things in heaven, and things on earth. Hence every part of the creation, animate and inanimate, hath, by turns, been an object of worship. And even the most refined nations, we know, had gross conceptions on this head. The wisest of them, indeed, by observing the wonders of creation, could clothe the Deity with wisdom and power: but they could go no further. The virtues of their heroes afforded them the highest ideas of perfection and with these they arrayed their gods: mixing also with their virtues, such vices, as are found in the characters of the best of men.
For just notions of the Deity, we must have recourse then to revelation alone. Revelation removes all these absurdities. It dispels the clouds of ignorance; and unveils the divine majesty, as far as it can be the object of human contemplation. The lax notions of libertinism, on one hand,
which make the Deity an inobservant governor ; and the gloomy ideas of superstition, on the other, which suppose him to be a dark malignant being, are equally exposed. Here we are informed of the omniscience and omnipresence of God. Here we learn, that his wisdom and power are equalled by his goodness; and that his mercy is over all his works. In short, we learn from revelation, that we are in the hands of a being, whose knowledge we cannot evade, and whose power we cannot resist; who is merciful and good to all his creatures, and will be ever ready to assist and reward those, who endeavour to conform themselves to his will; but whose justice, at the same time, accompanying his mercy, will punish the bold and careless sinner in proportion to his guilt.
OBJECTIONS TO THE BEING OF A GOD REFUTED.
I WILL crave your patience whilst I state some arguments of importance, in opposition to the principles of those philosophers, who have been the authors of this mischief (of atheism) in a foreign country, and of their admirers in our own.
Nature and reason, they tell us, are their gods. Let them not impose upon themselves and others by the use of words, the meaning of which they do not understand. What is nature? What is reason? These terms ought to be defined for there is cause to suspect, that men who introne, or who adopt, such impiety of expression, are rather ignorant of what atheism is, than that
they are, what they affect to be thought, atheists on conviction. By nature then we may understand the order and constitution of things composing the universe; and by reason, that faculty of the human mind by which we are able to discover truth. And can it be thought that this system of things, consisting of an infinity of parts fitted to answer ends which human wisdom can never comprehend in their full extent, but which, as far as it can comprehend them, appear to be beneficial to man and all other percipient beings-can it be thought that this system had not an intelligent, benevolent, powerful author?
When a man makes a watch, builds a ship, erects a silk-mill, constructs a telescope, we do scruple to say, that the man has a design in what he does. And can we say, that this solar system, a thousand times more regular in all its motions than watches, ships, or silk-mills—that the infinity of other systems dispersed through the immensity of space, inconceivably surpassing, in magnitude and complication of motion, this of which our earth is but a minute part-or even that the eye which now reads what is here written, a thousand times better fitted for its functions than any telescope can we say, that there was no design in the formation of these things?
Tell us not, that it is allowed there must be intelligence in an artificer who makes a watch or a telescope, but that, as to the artificer of the universe, we cannot comprehend his nature. What then? shall we on that account deny his existence? With better reason might a grub, buried in the bowels of the earth, deny the existence of
a man, whose nature it cannot comprehend; for a grub is indefinitely nearer to man in all intellectual endowments (if the expression can be permitted) than man is to his maker. With better reason may we deny the existence of an intellectual faculty in the man who makes the machine : we know not the nature of the man; we see not the mind which contrives the figure, size, and adaptation of the several parts; we simply see the hand, which forms and puts them together.
Shall a shipwrecked mathematician, on observing a geometrical figure, accurately described on the sand of the sea-shore, encourage his followers with saying, 'Let us hope for the best, for I see the traces of man;' and shall not man, in contemplating the structure of the universe, or of any part of it, say to the whole human race, Brethren! be of good comfort, we are not begotten of chance, we are not born of atoms, our progenitors have not come into existence by crawling out of the mud of the Nile; behold the footsteps of a being, powerful, wise, and good-not nature, but the God of nature, the father of the universe.'
I will not entangle the understanding of my audience, or bewilder my own, in the labyrinth of metaphysical researches; but I must say to these, the great philosophers of the age-you ought to know, that matter cannot have been from eternity; and that if, with Plato, you contend for the eternity of matter, you ought to know, that motion cannot have been from eternity; and that if, with Aristotle, you contend for the eternity of motion, you ought to know, that with him also you must contend for the eternity of a first mo
ver: you must introduce, what you labour to ex clude, a God, causing, regulating, and preserving, by established laws, the motion of every particle of matter in the universe.
You affirm, that nature is your God; and you inform us, that the energy of nature is the cause of every thing, that nature has power to produce a man. In all this you seem to substitute the term nature, for what we understand by the term God. But when you tell us that nature acts (if such exertion can be called action), necessarily and without intelligence, we readily acknowledge, that your God is essentially different from our God. All novelty is but oblivion:' this famous system of nature, which has excited so much unmerited attention, and done such incredible mischief throughout Europe, is in little or in nothing different from the system of certain atheistic philosophers mentioned by Cicero, who maintained, that nature has a certain energy, destitute of intelligence, exciting in bodies necessary motions.' The answer is obvious and short: an energy destitute of freedom and of intelligence cannot produce a man possessing both: as well may it be said, that an effect may be produced without a cause.
The proof of the existence of a supreme Being, which is derived from the constitution of the visible world, is of a popular cast; but you must not, therefore, suppose it to be calculated to convince only persons who cannot reason philosophically. What think you of Newton? He certainly could reason philosophically. He certainly, of all the sons of men, best understood the structure of