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which help to confirm that faith, without which it is impossible to please him; and they are very useful to convince you, that God hath not left himself without proof of his supreme power, even upon those who have not partaken of the still clearer light of that glorious revelation he hath most graciously vouchsafed to us, among many other nations, to strengthen our faith, and leave us without excuse, if we do not strive after that Spirit, which will teach us the invisible things of God. As to the objections of atheists, or persons (as the word signifies) without God, who are, unhappily, so blind to the light of sound reasoning, and their own best ins terests, that they would persuade themselves they had their being by chanoe (as the word is improperly used for an actual agent), and that they shall end in nothing; their arguments are so contradictory to the general opinion of the wisest of men, that it would be but waste of time to mention them; indeed, to observe upon them, or answer them, would interfere with the design of this Discourse, and the different kind of instruction I mean it to convey at present. It is a matter of doubt with me, if ever there was an uniform atheist, in the strict sense of the word : it is the heart, and not the head, that usually produces this gross error. But, if any are found so perverse, as to oppose that body of evidence which the general history of mankind affords for our belief in God, we may fairly suspect the understanding to be injured in some degree, or that it is so overpowered by pernicious prejudice, as to render them objects of pity for their invincible infidelity. In short, if we closely inquire into the lives of the majority of unbelievers, we shall find few very industrious to disprove the existence of a God; i. e. to affirm that there is not a superior Mind or Being, infinite in power and goodness, who willed all creatures into being; for whose pleasure all things are, and were created, and on whose will they still depend for continuance. We shall find, I say, but a small number on this side of the question, except the WICKED, or, as the Psalmist justly terms them, the fools who say in their heart, There is no God. And there is manifest reason why they are of this description: first, because men are naturally inclined to receive what will yield them most comfort, according to the state of their hearts and lives (or even under a state of doubt); the wicked man, consequently, is induced to wish at least, if not to believe, there is no God; because, perfection, being as necessary as selfexistence, to the nature of God, his justice is positively engaged to punish the ungodly; and, • spite of all their false reasoning, there is a minister within that tells them so.
pious man, takes refuge in the thought of God's perfection. He truly concludes that infinite wisdom cannot err in its design; and, whatever seeming difficulties now present themselves, he contents himself that it will finally close in order and beauty. After all, for just notions of the Deity, we must apply to revelation alone. The authority of God's own word removes all the absurdities with which the arguments of unbelievers abound; it dispels the clouds of ignorance, and discovers the force of divine truth, as far as it can be the object of the human understanding; as far as is necessary to our support here, and to fit us for further knowledge and happiness hereafter.
We will now proceed to that external, or outward, assurance of God's being, viz. his divine revelation of HIMSELF, by the testimony of prophecy and miracles. In discoursing to a Christian congregation (as I observed before), we may safely conclude, that they must have been trained to a pure faith in this valuable proof of the leading article of their creed, or belief; it would, therefore, be needless, and out of season, to introduce any arguments for the truth of Scripture itself, which would afford a fitter subject of conviction for unbelievers.
As an introduction, therefore, to the abundant information this rich treasury contains, I shall answer an inquiry that naturally presents
itself in this place, viz. Why we call this our creed, or belief? and particularly the Apostles' creed: (1.) Because it contains all those doctrines which, as Christians, we profess, and ought to believe; and (2.) These very doctrines were partly what the Apostles taught, or partly such as were composed in or near the times in which they lived. The history of creeds in general would afford you no valuable instruction, as unlearned men; and as our Catechism speaks only of that one of the three included in our Liturgy, or public church service, it will be sufficient, according to the humble plan I have adopted for the more essential information of an unlettered audience, to speak to that only.
For the clearer and further explanation of the important articles contained in this creed, I shall divide it into twelve distinct parts, each of which will nearly, if not entirely, supply ample subject for a separate Lecture. The first portion now before us, relates wholly to God, as the FATHER, the Almighty Maker of heaven and earth. I have hitherto endeavoured to open your
minds as to the existence of God, as the text expresses it, to show that God is, according to the general light of human nature; I shall now proceed to prove the blessed nature of the Deity, by the additional help of supernatural evidence, or the proof afforded us, of his being, in his own word.
And, first, let us inquire what is God?-He is an eternal, infinite, incomprehensible Spirit ; an immortal, invisible, almighty Being; most perfect in himself, and the giver of all that perfection which is found in others, whether angels or men. That God is, appears from his revelation of himself to his servant Moses, who acquaints us, in Exodus, iii. 14, with the name God gave to HIMSELF, when he appeared unto him-I AM, THAT, I AM. I am, I have been from everlasting, I am that living God who ruleth over all. And in the 6th chapter of Exodus, and 3d verse, God says of himself, I appeared unto Abraham, unto. Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty ; but by my name Jehovah was I not known unto them; which word, the particular name of God, signifies selfEXISTING.
And in the first verse of the first chapter of the book of Moses, or the history of the creation, which Moses could only have obtained by inspiration, or tradition that was founded in the actual revelation of God himself, to the patriarchs by angels and visions, he says, In the beginning God created the heaven and earth. And the holy Psalmist says, xxxiii. 9, By the word of the Lord were the heavens made ; for he spake, and it was done ; he commanded, and it stood fast. And, in truth, the wonderful works of creation are alone