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and character ; for this must be criminal in proportion to the greatness of God, his importance to being in general, and the excellence of his character, and his authority over us, and his goodness exercised towards us. But he is infinitely great, and therefore his existence is of infinite worth and importance, and he is as excellent as he is great, is infinite love and friendship to being in general ; and his authority over us is great in proportion to his greatness and perfection, our inferiority to him, and dependence upon him. And what is the just and certain consequence from this? If it be not that disaffection and opposition to him is infinitely criminal, that is, a crime of unlimited infinite magnitude ; then it cannot be proved to be any crime at all. This is certain, if no reason can be given, or argument offered to prove that opposition to God, and rebellion against him, is wrong and criminal, which does not equally prove that the crime is infinitely great. Any one will doubtless be convinced of this, if he will attend to the point so much as to make a trial. The misery of such must be great. If infinite
perfection and excellence give them no pleasure, but uneasiness and pain, they are of course shut out of all true happiness, and they have no object that can afford them any enjoyment, suited to their natural capacity and strong desires; and therefore must, in all their pursuits of happiness, meet with continual, vexatious disappointment, which must constantly render them very unhappy. And if they persist in this disaffection to God, and opposition to him, and so fall under the just and proper manifestations of his displeasure, and are punished in suffering evil answerable to their crimes, they must necessarily be miserable beyond all conception, and without any end !
The folly of this is beyond all expression, and the greatest that can be. To turn away from the fountain of all good and perfection, and renounce the only object of true enjoyment and happiness, and seek it in a way in which it is not to be found, but issues in complete and endless misery : what instance of folly can be great like this! No wonder the scriptures call such Fools, in an cmphatical sense, as if this was the sum of all folly,
and there were no fools but these. These, in the highest sense, and in the most striking manner, “ call evil good, and good evil ; put darkness for light, and light for darkness; bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.” The scriptures speak of such in the following language. “ Be astonished, 0 ye heavens, at this, and be ye horri. bly afraid : For my people have committed two evils: They have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. For my people are foolish, they have not known me, they are sottish children, and have no understanding : They are wise to do evil; but to do good they have no knowledge.”
IV. This subject leads us to reflect upon the very criminal blindness and great delusion of those who say in their hearts, “ There is no God.” The scriptures teach us there are such ; and surely we must see the justice and propriety of calling them fools. " The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.” That there should be any such of the human race, is very shocking and deplorable ; but it is more so to have it asserted by God, that this is true of all mankind in their natural state! That all are here declared to be such fools naturally, is certain from the context, which is quoted by St. Paul, and applied to all men.* What awful darkness and delusion must that be, in which they are, who, in the midst of the clearest light shining around them, do shut their eyes so as not to see the most evident and important truth, and to be quite blind to the most excellent, charming, glorious character ! And that the heart of man should be thus stupid and blind, even when there is a rational conviction, and acknowledgment of the truth, is yet more shocking. This
This is the blindness of the heart, spoken of by St. Paul. “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” When the light that is in men is, through the moral disorders of the mind, turned into such darkness, how great is that darkness !
And this blindness and delusion must be criminal in proportion to the clear and abundant evidence of the truth, and the infinite importance and excellence of the • Psalm xiy, 3.-Rom. iii. 9, 12.
† Epb. iy. 18.
object, which this darkness hides from the mind; for it is the blindness of the heart, and therefore a moral, voluntary blindness, and cannot be distinguished from disaffection and real opposition of the heart to the being and character of God; and consequently the whole of it is nothing but sin. In this light, therefore, the scriptures every where represent this sort of blindness and delusion, which originates from the heart, and consists essentially in the moral disorders and depravity of the mind. All sin is indeed moral darkness and delusion, it is opposed to all moral truth, and is in its own nature a sort of Atheism, as it does in all the exercises of it deny the God that is above. It is therefore so far from being unaccountable that the scriptures should assert, that they whose hearts are wholly under the dominion of sin, say in their hearts there is no God, that the reason of it may be easily seen ; and it is most evident and certain, that it cannot be otherwise, and to assert the contrary is a very gross and palpable contradiction. When all the feelings and exercises of the heart are as if there were no God, or are opposed to his being and moral character, then the heart says, there is no God : Therefore they who have no true virtue, no love to God, are in the scriptures said not to know God; but to be talienated from the life of God, and without God in the world. *
THAT there is but one God, the scriptures every where assert; and this is agreeable to reason, and the works of creation and providence, which we behold. And the contrary supposition is most absurd, and undesirable, and really involves in it infinite evil. God must be a self existent being ; which is the same with existe ing necessarily : But necessary existence must be infinite, as has been shewn. Therefore there can be but onę
Eph. ü. 12.-iv. 18.
first cause, who exists necessarily, and without beginning, for there can be but one infinite being. To suppose another, or a second, necessarily excludes the first, and to suppose the first, necessarily excludes the second, and any other infinite being. The same is evident from the consideration of the divine perfections : God is infinite power, infinite wisdom : But there cannot be two or more infinite wisdoms, &c. because this is a contradiction. Infinite power is all the power there is, or can
. be, and is clearly inconsistent with another power distinct from that, which is also infinite. Moreover, if we make the impossible supposition that there are two or more infinite beings, they must be perfectly alike in all respects, or not. If not perfectly alike and without any difference in any respect, then one or the other must be imperfect ; for absolutely infinite perfection admits of no variation, or difference : so that if any two beings differ in any respect, they cannot both be absolutely perfect ; therefore cannot both be God. But if they are perfectly alike in every respect and every thing, then they are perfectly one and the same ; and the supposition destroys itself, being a direct contradiction. And there can be no possible need of more than one Gud ; and therefore were this possible, it is not desirable. There can really be no more existence than one infinite being, or any addition to infinite perfection and excel, lence ; therefore no more can be desired ; and nothing can be effected or done, more than he can do. In a word, he is all-sufficient, and no addition can be made to this, or even conceived.
Yea, it is so far from being desirable, that there should be more gods than one, were it possible, that it is most undesirable, and would be the greatest evil. Such a supposition would only tend to perplex the pious mind, not knowing which of the gods he did worship, or what god to love and adore, or in which to put his trust. There have been those in the christian world, who have supposed two gods, a good and an evil one. The former the author of all good, the latter of all evil. Were it so, there must be infinite variance and opposition between these beings, and it is impossible that the votaries of either should be happy. Such a belief, as the ac
knowledgment of more gods than one, is even worse than atheism itself; or rather is the worst sort of atheism ; for such are really without any God.
The scriptures teach us that there are three in this one God. Not three Gods; for this would be a contradiction ; but that this infinite being exists in such a manner, as to be three distinct subsistencies or persons, and yet but one God. The most express declaration of this is by the apostle John. He
He says, “ There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost : And these are One."* This is also clearly asserted by Christ himself, when he directs his disciples to baptize all the proselytes to christianity, “ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”+ Baptism being a covenant transaction between God and the creature, and a solemn act of worship, it would be idolatry to administer it in any other name but that of the only true God. Therefore these words warrant us to believe that the Father, the Son, and the holy Ghost, are God, and but one God, agreea. ble to what is said by the apostle John in the above cited passage, the Word and the Son meaning the same. This is also expressed by the apostle Paul, in his benediction or prayer, with which he concludes his second epistle to the Corinthians. “ The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all, Amen."Ị Hereby God must be meant, the Father, mentioned in the above cited passages; and this is therefore parallel to them. And divinity is ascribed to each of these ; by his blessing in each of these names, and making them the object
There are many passages in the Old Testament, which are agreeable to those in the New Testament, which have been mentioned, and represent a plurality or Trinity, as comprehended in the One true God: The following are some of them. It is remarkable that the Hebrew word, which is generally used for God, and is so translated, is commonly put in the plural, and not in the singular number. There is an instance of it the first time it is used in the Bible. “In the beginning God * 1 John v.7. 4 Matthew xxyü. 19. * 2 Corinthians xüi. 14.