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PSALM, xix. 1.
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firma
ment showeth his handy work.
The honour and happiness of a creature consist in the knowledge and enjoyment of God. But notwithstanding this, great ignorance of God has prevailed in all ages among mankind. In some ages, and among some nations, this darkness has been great indeed; almost without a ray of divine light. Such is the blindness of the human mind, and such the wickedness of the heart, that some in every age have denied the being of God. Others who have acknowledged his existence, have yet been in a state of doubt and uncertainty respecting his natural and moral perfections. Various have been the opinions of the heathen, who have acknowledged a Deity, respecting his character, which diversity of opinion has given birth to as many schemes of religion. For every sect will form a system of religious service conformable to their views of the
divine character. Hence“
every one will,” as the prophet remarks," walk in the way of his God.” For the design of all kinds of religion is to please God and find acceptance with him. Should we look into the more enlightened parts of the world, we shall find, in every period of time, that mankind have embraced notions of the Deity, extremely diverse from each oth
This diversity of opinion, on a subject so all-important, proves a deficiency some where ; for either mankind have not sufficient evidence of the being and perfections of God, or they have been, and still are criminally inattentive to the evidence, which is exhibited before them. God requires mankind to know and love him ; and considers ignorance of himself a
But according to all our natural notions of equity, that is an unreasonable law, which requires love to a being we do not know, and at the same time are destitute of those means of information, which are absolutely necessary to form just conceptions of him. But where there is full and abundant evidence of any truth constantly held up before our eyes, particularly of the being of God, our reason and conscience must condemn us for not knowing and loving him. The apostle has given a divine sanction to this sentiment in these words, “For the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things which are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they, (that is the heathen) are without excuse,” _Truly without excuse “ in changing the glory of the incorruptible God into images like unto corruptible man, and to birds, and
fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.” The Psalmist had the same sense of this matter. “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handy work.” On this very principle it is, that the apostle condemns the heathen world for their idolatry, because the visible creation, the sun, moon, and stars, and indeed every object they beheld, were displays of Almighty power-of infinite wisdom and goodness.
The visible heavens afford abundant evidence of the being and glory of God.
My design is to show how the heavens declare the being and glory of God, after having shown what is here meant by heavens, and what by glory. By the word heavens, we are to understand that vast expanse in which the sun, moon and stars are disposed; and the word heavens is often used to denote space and the objects with which it is replenished. These objects “declare the glory of God.” They exhibit his glory to the inhabitants of this earth. This is the meaning of the inspired author of the text, for he adds, “day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge; there is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.” That is, the firmament with its shining furniture of suns and stars. These are eloquent preachers of the being and perfections of God. But this cannot be said of the heaven of heavens, the presence chamber of God and glorified saints, for these are seen only with an eye of faith, through the medium of revelation. It is the visible heavens which
declare the glory of God. And if they manifest the glory of God, they of consequence manifest his being. For a manifestation of his being is necessarily implied in a manifestation of his glory. By the glory of God is meant his wisdom, power, and goodness. These perfections constitute the glory of the divine nature.
1. The being of God is manifested by the visible creation. These glorious works discover to the eye of reason the existence of their great original. It is by the eye of reason, that God is seen and acknowledged through the medium of his works.The existence of the sun, moon and stars proves the existence of a God; for it is a plain dictate of reason, that visible things are not self-existent, but depend on something without themselves for their being. The visible creation is evidently destitute of the essential properties of eternal self-existence. It is evidently mutable, and all mutable being is limited, and has a cause for its existence and change. Independent existence, is unchangeable existence. But we have the fullest evidence with respect to ourselves, and every thing about us, that both we and they are dependent. It is as evident as it can be, that some Almighty being has existed from eternity, who gave existence to the visible creation, the order and harmony of whose parts exhibit his wisdom. Indeed nothing is more plain, that no being, creature or thing can be the author of its own existence, but must be either the effect, the production of some other being, or is itself self-existent. There is evidence, which is convincing to a thinking mind, that no visible object, whether animate or inanimate, is