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ASSISTANT TO FAMILY RELIGION.
A SYSTEM OF NATURAL AND REVEALED RELIGION IN THE
FORM OF QUESTION AND ANSWER, ACCOMPANIED
Existence and Character of God, and the moral Con
dition and Duties of Man, as manifested by the Light of Nature.*
Question 1. How does it appear, that there is a God?
Answer. From our own existence, and from what is seen existing around us. (a)
(a) Heb. iii. 4. For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God. Ps. cxxxix. 14. I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Ps. xix. 1-3. 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.—Rom. i. 19, 20. Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them, for God bath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead. -Rom. ii. 15. Which shew the work of the law written on their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another. It seems to be implied here, that man without revelation, holds himself instinctively accountable to his Maker and Judge.
* By the light of nature is meant the instruction respecting doctrine and duty, which we may obtain by the right use of our intellectual and moral facultics in considering the being and perfections of God, and the relation we sustain to Him, and to one another, as manifested by the works of creation and providence;--or the knowledge of doctrine and duty, which we may acquire in all ways except by special revelation. It is to be observed, however, that the light of nature is, for the most part, in Christian lands so blended with the light of revelation, that it can hardly be considered separately and simply by itself.
Q. 2. How do these things prove the being of God?
A. By their very existence, and by the design discovo erable in them. 1. By their very existence. The visible universe is ever changing, and is, therefore, not eternal; for that which is eternal, is self-existent, and that which is self-existent is necessarily existent and hence admits of no change in kind or degree. All things, then, which are seen, began to exist. Consequently, they either created themselves, came into existence by chance, or were created by some other being. But self-creation is a contradiction; for it supposes, that a being can act before it exists, or that an effect is the cause of itself. Creation by chance is absurd; for to say, that a thing is produced, and yet that there is no cause of its production, is to say, that something is effected, when it is effected by nothing, that is, not effected at all. All things, then, which do appear, must have been created by some other being. And the being who created all these things is God. 2. The design, discoverable in the constitution, regularity, harmony, and government of the visible universe, proves the existence of God. Design implies a designer, and this designer must exist before the things designed. Consequently, the design, manifest in all things existing around us, proves a designer; and this designer is God. Q. 3.
What does the light of nature teach concerning the perfections of God!
A. It teaches His self-existence, eternity, immutability, omnipotence, independence, omnipresence, omniscience, unity, goodness, and wisdom.* Q. 4.
What relation does God sustain to man as discoverable by the light of nature?
A. The relation of Creator, Preserver, Proprietor Benefactor, Lawgiver, Governor, and Disposer.
* It is not certain, that the unity or the perfect goodness and wisdom of God would ever have been discovered by the human mind in its present depraved state without the light of revelation. För a full consideration of the perfections of God, the reader is referred to Chapter III.
Q. 5. Are all men every where under indispensable obligations to believe in the being of God? A. They are.
The evidence which he has afforded them of His existence, by the light of nature, binds them to this duty. Consequently, atheism, or the disbelief of God in any, even in the heathen, is fearfully criminal; because it rejects the instructions, and discredits the testimony of God Himself, in the works of His hands. (6)
Q. 6. Are mankind naturally prone to reject the evidence of God's existence?
A. They are, as appears from experience and observation. (c)
Q. 7. Whence does this
A. From the depravity of their hearts. This is the only reason why any in Pagan, Mohamedan, or Christian countries are Atheists. (d)
Q. 8. Is belief in the existence of God an essential doctrine of religion?
A. It is the very first and fundamental principle of all true religion. (e)
Q. 9. Is it important to have just views of God?
A. It is highly important: for without them, we shall naturally and necessarily be led astray in respect to our religious sentiments and practices. (f)
(6) Rom. i. 20, 21. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
(c) Rom. i. 28. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.-Ps. Ixxxii. 5. They know pot, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness.-Job xxi. 14, 15. Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.
What is the Almighty that we should serve him, and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him!
(d) Ps. xiv. 1. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.Ps. x. 4. The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God; God is not in all his thoughts.
(e) Heb. xi. 6. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a reward. er of them that diligently seek him.
(f) John iv. 24. God is a spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.-Rom. i. 22–25. Professing them. selves to be wise, they became fools; and changed the glory of the in
What duties does the light of nature teach, as incumbent on man?
A. It teaches his duty of loving, obeying, serving, worshipping, and delighting in God; and many of his duties towards his fellow creatures. (g)
Q. 11. Does the light of nature teach that mankind are in a sinful state?
A. It does. When man's conduct is compared with his duty, as made known by the works of creation and providence, conscience points out his transgressions. (g)
Q. 12. Does the light of nature furnish an adequate relief for man in the unhappiness of his sinful state?
A. It does not. While by it we discover the sinfulness of our condition, we learn nothing of the way of pardon and salvation.
Q. 1. What is meant by the Sacred Scriptures!
A. God's successive written revelations to mankind, or the
Holy Bible, containing the books of the Old and New Testaments, given by inspiration of God. (a)
Q. 2. What books are included in the Old Testament?
A. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1
corruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves; who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever.-Ps. I. 21. Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself.
(g) Rom. ii. 14, 15. For when the Gentiles which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves; which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their couscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another.
(a) Heb. i. 1, 2. God, who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in time past unto the fathers hy the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.—2 Tim. iii. 16. All scripture is given by inspiration of God.
Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Solomon's Song, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
Q. 3. What books are included in the New Testament?
A. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, Revelation.
Q. 4. Are the books commonly called the Apocrypha, which are sometimes appended to the Old Testament, divinely inspired? or are they any part of the Sacred Canon?
A. There is no evidence, that they are; but there is much evidence, that they are not. 1. The authors of them do not pretend to be inspired. 2. They neither agree with themselves, nor with the Holy Scriptures. 3. The Jews never acknowledged them to be of Divine authority, as they were written after the days of Malachi, with whom the spirit of prophecy ceased, as they universally believed. 4. They are never quoted by Christ and His apostles. 5. They were never in the first ages of the Christian church, received as canonical Scripture. Q. 5.
How are the books of the Apocrypha to be regarded?
A. Simply as human writings, containing some truths and facts important to be known. They are of some use also in illustrating Hebrew modes and customs and idioms of speech.
2. 6. By whom were the first five books of the Old Testament, sometimes termed the Pentateuch, written?
A. By Moses. Hence he is called the Law-giver of Israel.
Q. 7. In what language were the Sacred Scriptures at first written?
A. The Old Testament was principally written in Hebrew, and the New Testament in Greek.