« ZurückWeiter »
bility of a body's moving one way at once, destroys the possibility of its moving two ways at once. Had Hume and Kaimes properly consulted the operation of their own minds upon this subject, we presume they never would have granted that it was possible for the world to have come into existence by a cause, and yet asserted that it was possible it might have come into existence without a cause. By granting the possibility of the world's coming into existence by a cause, they have virtually granted that it was absolutely impossible it should have come into existence without a cause. The bare possibility of the world's beginning to exist, amounts to a demonstration that it did begin to exist. And the bare possibility of its beginning to exist by a cause, amounts to a demonstration that there was some cause of its beginning to exist.
IV. The cause which produced this world must be equal to the effect produced. No cause can produce an effect superior to itself. This is no less impossible than that an effect should exist without a cause. For just so far as an effect the cause, it ceases to be an effect, and exists of itself. To suppose, therefore, that the world owes its existence to any cause inferior to itself, involves the same absurdity as to suppose that it began to exist without a cause. It requires a greater cause to produce a great, than a small effect. This we know by our own experience. We can produce small effects. We are able to move or new modify some things around us; but we cannot give existence to the smallest atom. To produce something out of nothing requires a far greater cause than it does merely to move or new modify things which already exist. Hence the character and perfections of the first and supreme Cause may be fairly argued from the things which he hath made.
Here, then, I would observe,
1. The Creator of all things must be possessed of almighty power. This is the first attribute of the first cause which his great and marvellous works impress upon the mind. In surveying the works of creation, their greatness constrains us to conclude that no less than almighty power could bring them out of nothing into being. It is true, our imagination is here apt to get the start of our reason, and we are ready to apprehend that the power of preserving is greater than the power of creating the world. Preserving power seems to admit of different degrees of effort, in proportion to the different degrees of magnitude in the objects preserved. It seems to require a greater effort in the Supreme Being to support a mountain than a mole-hill, or to support the ponderous earth than the light and flying clouds. But this is altogether owing to a delusive imagination. In the eye of reason, whatever the Supreme Power can do, he can do with equal ease. It requires no more effort in the great First Cause to support and preserve the world, than it did to call it into existence at first. “He spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast." This facility of his
” operation displays the greatness of his power in the production of the world." He who produced an angel as easily as a man, a man as easily as a worm, and a world as easily as an atom, must be a being of unbounded power. His power of creating surpasses the powers of all dependent beings. For, were all their powers united, they could not create a fly, nor a worm, nor produce the least particle of matter. We cannot conceive of any power greater than that which can give existence, or produce something out of nothing. The being, therefore, who created this world, must be able to do every thing which lies within the limits of possibility.' By creating one world, he has displayed a power sufficient to create as many worlds as space itself can contain. And therefore, if we may judge of the cause by the effect, we may safely conclude that the first and supreme Čause of all things is necessarily omnipotent.
2. The Author and Framer of the world must be supremely wise and intelligent. Mankind have always admired the beauty of the world. The Greeks, that learned and refined nation, called it beauty in the abstract. Uniformity amidst variety appears through every part of creation. The motions and revolutions of the heavenly bodies are uniform, though extremely various. There is uniformity amidst variety in every species of grain, of grass, of flowers, of trees and of animals. There is a great uniformity among the many millions of mankind, yet an almost infinite variety. The human body is a most curious piece of machinery. Its various parts are not only well proportioned, but nicely constructed, and situated to answer their various purposes. The feet are admirably fitted for walking, the hands for laboring, the eyes for seeing, the ears for hearing, and the mouth for both feeding and speaking. Indeed, not only the human frame, but the whole creation, appears to be made for use.
All the luminaries of heaven serve many and important purposes. They not only afford light to the earth, but divide time into days, months and years, and a happy variety of seasons. Air and earth, fire and water, are all necessary to support and preserve the lives of men, of animals and vegetables. The seas which divide, at the same time unite the numerous nations of the earth. The lower species of animals appear to be made for the service of the higher; the higher and lower species appear to be made for the service of man; and man, a rational and noble creature, appears to be made for the service of his Maker. Such variety, uniformity, regularity and intelligence in the effect, clearly demonstrate intelligence and wisdom in the cause. The world bears stronger marks of the design of the Creator, than a clock, or watch, or any other curious machine bears of the ingenuity of the artificer. Indeed it is easier to conceive that houses should be framed, that cities should be built, and all the arts and sciences carried to the highest pitch of improvement by mere chance, than that this beautiful, regular, and useful world should have been framed by any other cause than a wise and intelligent Being, who revolved and adjusted in his own mind every part of it, before he called it into existence.
When we survey the order, usefulness and intelligence of the things that are made, we as clearly see and understand the manifold wisdom, as the eternal power, of the Godhead.
3. The builder and upholder of the world must be every where present. It is the nature of all created beings and objects to be constantly and absolutely dependent upon their Creator. But if he constantly upholds all his creatures and all his works, then he must be constantly present in every part of his wide creation. We cannot conceive that any cause can operate where it does not exist ; and of course we cannot conceive that the Creator and Preserver of the world should exert his power beyond the limits of his presence. But it is certain that his preserving and governing power extends to every creature and every object, whether great or small, through every part of the created universe; and therefore it is equally certain that his presence constantly fills and surrounds the whole creation. And this gives us the highest possible idea of the immensity of the divine presence.
4. The maker and governor of the world must be a being of boundless knowledge. He must necessarily know himself, and be intuitively acquainted with all his natural and moral perfections. And by knowing these, he must necessarily know all possibles; that is, all things which lie within the limits of omnipotence. This is that knowledge which constitutes one of the essential attributes of the great first Cause. And besides this, he must necessarily have the knowledge of his own purposes and designs, which is properly termed fore-knowledge. For, by knowing his own decrees, he necessarily knows all actuals; that is, all things that ever will exist. Hence it appears that his understanding is infinite, and his knowledge boundless. His great and capacious mind comprehends at one view all things past, present and to come. And more than this cannot be known.
5. The first, supreme, and intelligent Cause of all things
must be eternal. To suppose the first Cause had a cause of his existence, is to suppose there was a cause before the first Cause. Or to suppose he was the cause of his own existence, is to suppose that he existed and operated before he did exist. Or to suppose that he came into existence without any cause, is to suppose what has been proved to be impossible. Hence we are constrained to suppose that there is something in his nature which renders his existence absolutely necessary and eternal. And though we cannot explain the necessity and eternity of the divine existence, yet this is no real objection against it, because it is reasonable to suppose the great Creator should exist in a manner which surpasses the comprehension of all his creatures.
6. The Framer of ir bodies and the Father of our spirits must be a being of moral rectitude. He hath engraven the evidence of this upon the minds of all intelligent creatures. For, when he made them," he bent them to the right;" or gave them a capacity of discerning the moral beauty or deformity of every moral agent. But can we suppose the Creator would furnish his creatures with a faculty by which they could discover his own moral character, unless he knew himself to be possessed of perfect rectitude and spotless purity ? For, if he were not of such a character, his creatures whom he endued with moral powers would be capable of discovering it; and whenever they should discover it, they would be under moral obligation to hate and detest the author of their existence. Hence the moral faculty of man carries in it a clear demonstration of the moral rectitude of his Maker. Besides, the whole world bears innumerable marks of the divine goodness. It is every way adapted to satisfy the reasonable desires of all reasonable creatures. And the more the works of God have been explored by the most inquisitive and discerning minds, the more of his goodness as well as of his wisdom has been discovered. All the works of creation and providence have such a natural and direct tendency to promote the holiness and happiness of mankind, that, notwithstanding the prevalence of natural and moral evil, there is abundant reason to conclude that he who built all things is good. And it is well known that goodness is the sum and comprehension of all moral excellence.
Thus it appears, by the most natural and conclusive mode of reasoning, that there must be a first and supreme Cause of all things, who is possessed of every natural and moral perfection. It now remains to make a few deductions from the subject.
1. If it be true that the visible world displays the being and perfections of the Deity, then all who reason themselves into atheism are guilty of extreme folly. Those who assume the
name of atheists generally profess to be masters of superior knowledge and penetration, and affect to despise the rest of mankind as weak, ignorant, superstitious creatures. But if the world in which we live and all the objects which come to our view, bear clear and obvious marks of the supreme power, wisdom and goodness of their Author, then the imputation of solly and weakness must rebound upon those who, in defiance of reason and common sense, deny the being and perfections of the first and supreme Cause, who has impressed his own great and amiable character upon all his works. Professing themselves to be wise they become fools, and expose their folly to all men who make proper use of their rational powers. It requires much learned labor in any of mankind to become atheists in speculation. They must stifle the plain dictates of reason and the common feelings of humanity by deep and subtile sophistry, before they can renounce the idea of the necessary connection between cause and effect, which is the last step in the road to atheism. But when they have taken this step, they have leaped over all the principles of fair reasoning, and put it out of their own power to prove the existence of any Other intelligent being besides themselves. For, if it be once allowed that any thing can begin to exist and consequently continue to exist without a cause, then the actions of men are no evidence of their intellectual powers. And the atheist who makes this concession, has no principle lest upon which he can justly conclude that there is any being in the universe except himself, who possesses the least degree of perception or intelligence. He, therefore, who says and believes that there is no God, must, in order to be consistent, say and believe that there are no men. But is it not extreme folly in any man to say
and believe that all mankind are fools but himself? Such shame must be the promotion of learned and voluntary fools. It behooves those, therefore, who are leaning towards atheism, and laboring to reason themselves into the disbelief and denial of the Deity, to turn from their dangerous folly, and employ their noble powers to the better purpose of pursuing the chief end of man, which is to glorify God and enjoy him for ever.
2. If there be a being of supreme power and intelligence, who is the Creator and Proprietor of the world, then there is great reason to think that he will dispose of all things to his own glory. The same motive which led him to create, will necessarily lead him to govern, all his creatures and all their actions. His own glory must have been bis highest motive in creating the world, and therefore must be his supreme end in governing every creature and directing every event. When a man has built a neat and convenient house, we natu