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sense, “ live without God in the world.” And, by the way, this may serve to shew what need mankind stand in, of a divine revelation, and that all religious light and knowledge originates wholly from this source.
3. There have been instances of persons who have been deaf from their birth, and consequently dumb; and after they have arrived to adult or middle age, have been able to hear and speak : And though before this, they attended public worship with others, and appeared very devout ; and often made those signs which those with whom they conversed in this way, thought were expressions of their belief of the being of God, and of their piety : Yet, when they came to hear and speak, they declared, that they never had a thought that there was a God, until they could hear, and were by that means informed. And there never has been an instance known, of any such person's declaring that he had any belief or thought of the existence of a God, before he could hear and speak. *
Are not these facts an evidence that though the being of God is so clearly manifested in the works of creation and providence, yet mankind, in their present fallen, corrupt state, would not discern and acknowledge this truth, had it not been otherwise revealed ?
And since the nature of all sin, so far as it has dominion in the heart, is real Atheism, and a denial of the God
a who is above ; and therefore the fool, the wicked man, always says in his heart, “ There is no God :” and the
* See President Clap's Essay on the Nature and Foundation of Moral Virtue. Page 42, &c. The following is transcribed from him, page 45. “I was well acquainted with a Negro, who was a man of superior natural powers, and made a profession of religion ; who told me that he was born in the island of Madagascar, and lived there till he was above thirty years old : And in all that time he never had a thought of the being of a God, a Creator or Governor of the world, or of a future state after death.”
“ Dr. Williots, in his sermon on the Light of Nature, relates a story a man in France, who was born deaf and dumb , yet was very knowing, active and faithful in the common affairs of life : And upon a solemn trial before the bishop, by the help of those who could converse with him, was judged to be a knowing and devout christian, and admitted to the Sacra. ment of the Lord's Supper, which he attended for many years, with all the signs of high devotion, such as elevation of hands, eyes, &c. At length a large quantity of hard wax was taken out of his ears ; upon which he could hear ; and, after a while, could speak and read. He then declared, that while he was deaf, he had no idea of a Go or maker of the world, or of a future state ; and that all he then did, in matters of religion, was purely in imitation of others.”
tendency of it is to darken and stupify the mind, or rather is itself blindness and stupidity, with regard to the being of God, and every thing invisible, and naturally shuts all these things out of the mind ; it can be easily accounted for, that without a revelation, the reason of man, who is totally corrupt and sinful, will never suggest to him the being of a God, however evident and demon. strable this is to reason, when once suggested and revealed, and men can be excited and persuaded to attend to the evidence, and exercise their reason on the subject.
We will now take a short and summary view of the evidence there is of this great and fundamental truth of all morality and religion ; and mention some of the arguments which offer themselves to our reason, when we attend to the subject. These are not long and intricate ; but when the truth is once suggested to us, it becomes an object of intuition, in a sense, so that though there be reasoning in the case, it is so short and easy, that it strikes the mind at once, and it is hardly conscious of any reasoning upon it, and of the medium by which the evidence comes to the mind. Hence it is probable, that some have thought, doubtless without any good reason for it, that the existence of God is, what they call an innate idea, which is essential to the mind of man, and impressed on it, independent of all reasoning on the subject.
1. It is certain there is a God from our own existence, and the things we behold around us. There must be some cause of the existence of these things.
They could not cause their own existence, or make themselves; because this is a contradiction. There must therefore be some invisible cause which existed before them, and was able to give them existence, and to uphold them when they were made. And this first cause, maker and preserver of all things, is God.
It is natural for the inquisitive mind, when it is necessarily led thus far, to inquire, how came God to exist ? Or, what is the cause of his existence ? If he be the first cause, he must be the cause of his own existence, which implies a contradiction, or he must exist without any cause, and without beginning, which is perfectly inconceivable ; and we may as well suppose the world
exists without a cause, and go no farther back for a cause; and then we find no evidence of the existence of God.
Answer, The first cause of all things we behold, must certainly exist without beginning, and so without any cause, that is antecedent to his existence, or that is with. out himself. Yet there may be a reason or cause of his existence within himself, viz. The necessity of his existence, so that he exists necessarily, there being no other possible way or supposition, or it being infinitely impossible it should be otherwise ; universal non existence, being the greatest contradiction in nature.
If it should be said, this runs all into darkness; for we can no more conceive of Gol's existing necessarily, and without beginning to exist, than we can of the world's existing without a cause ; and therefore gives no relief to the mind : An easy, and it is hoped, a satisfactory answer, is at hand. It is a plain contradiction to say, that the world and all things in it exist without a cause, or a reason why they exist, rather than not : But neces. sary existence, and existence without beginning, implies no contradiction or impossibility. It is granted, that each of them is to us incomprehensible ; but this is so far from being any argument against the truth and reality of them, that it is rather an evidence in favour of them; for if there be a God, he must be incomprehensible, as he is an infinite being, and exists in a manner infinitely above us; therefore must be infinitely above and beyond the comprehension of finite minds. It is very unreasonable to object that against the being of a God, which cer. tainly must be true if God exists.
II. The being of God is evident from the manner of our own existence, and of all things visible, viz. the design, contrivance and wisdom that appear in them. It would fill volumes fully to illustrate this argument from the works of creation and providence, as this design and wisdom appear in them all ; and the more particularly they are considered, the more clear the wisdom appears and shines. Volumes have been written on the subject, and many more might be written, and yet the subject not be exhausted. But it is not consistent with the de. sign of this work, to enter particularly into this subject.
Every one must have observed so much of this, as to see the propriety and force of this argument, at first view, unless he be very criminally inattentive. The innumerable creatures and things which come under our observation appear to be contrived and formed to answer some end ; and the numerous ranks of different animals are all furnished with provision for their own support and defence, and have members and organs suited to their situation, and to obtain, receive and use what is necessary for the support of their lives, &c. If we attend only to our own bodies, we shall find them so admirably contrived, and so curiously formed; and though of so many parts, each one is suited to the rest, and all so contrived as to form one harmonious system of animal life, without any defect or any thing superfluous; is it possible, if we make any proper use of our reason, that we should find ourselves inhabiting such bodies, without discerning the contrivance and wisdom of our make, and seeing and acknowledging the hand and skill of the wise Author of this frame, so curious in all its parts and movements ? As well may we behold a most beautiful, well contrived palace, furnished with every thing convenient and comfortable to dwell in, having nothing useless, nothing wanting ; and not have one thought of a wise skilful architect, who contrived and built it ; or imagine this building might exist without the exertion of any design or wisdom and have no author and maker.
Surely we cannot survey ourselves and the world in which we are, and see the design and contrivance apparently running through the whole, and not be convinc. ed that there must be a wise contriver and author who has made them. Not to think of and acknowledge this, is to be more like beasts, than rational creatures. The language of the Psalmist is most rational and natural, when contemplating the works of creation and providence. "O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all.”
III. The being of God is made evident by the holy scriptures. Not merely by being there abundantly asserted ; but by the existence of such a book as the Bible. It is as much impossible there should be such a book,
were there no God, as that there should be such a world as we see, without an invisible cause. For it is as much beyond the power and skill of man, or any number of men, to form such a book, as it is to make the world. It is impossible that such a number of men, who lived in ages at such a distance from each other, should write so much, and not contradict themselves, nor each other; but agree and harmonize in every thing, were there no invisible, unerring, omniscient Being to direct and guide them : As impossible as it was that every stone and piece of timber in Solomon's temple, should come together, and be exactly fitted to its place, so as to make one complete, harmonious building, without any design, or contrivance ; but by mere accident or chance. The character of God there given is far above and beside the thought of man, and could no more be drawn by man, were there no such God, than the world can be made by him. And the law of God there given, and at last sum. med
up and comprehended in one sentence, “ Thou shalt love the Lord with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as thyself,” could no more be thought of and contrived by man, than the heavens and the earth could be planned and produced by him. The series of miracles wrought by those who said there was a God, and that Jehovah was the only true God; that he spake to them, and they did these wonders in his name, and by his power, are a standing proof of the existence of God.
But above all, the predictions contained in the Bible, with their exact and certain accomplishment, is a striking proof and demonstration of the existence of an omniscient, omnipotent Being. For it is as much beyond the art and power of men to foretel so many thousand events, so precisely answering the prediction, as it is for him to make the sun, moon and stars.
All these have been urged as proofs of the divinity of the scriptures, and they are equal proofs of the being of God. Therefore, though invisible things of God are clearly seen in the works of creation and providence, even his eternal power and godhead ; so that all the nations who have not the Bible are left without excuse, which if they do not believe in, love and worship the true God: yet they who enjoy this book have more clear evi