Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

doers of the law shall be justified.' James i. 22. • be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only.' Besides, obedience and love are always the best guides to knowledge, and often lead the way from small beginnings, to a greater and more flourishing degree of proficiency. Psal. xxv. 14. the secret of Jehovah is with them that fear him.' John vii. 17. if any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine. viii. 31, 32. if ye continue in my word ...... ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.' 1 John ii. 3. · hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.'

It must be observed, that Faith in this division does not mean the habit of believing, but the things to be habitually believed. So Acts vi. 7. were obedient to the faith.' Gal. i. 23. he preacheth the faith.

CHAPTER II.

OF GOD.

Though there be not a few who deny the existence of God,* for the fool hath said in his heart, There is no God,' Psal. xiv. 1. yet the Deity has imprinted upon the human mind so many unquestionable tokens of himself, and so many traces of him are apparent throughout the whole of nature, that no one in his senses can remain ignorant of the truth. Job xii. 9. who knoweth not in all these that the hand of Jehovah hath wrought this?' Psal. xix. 1. the heavens declare the glory of God,' Acts xiv. 17. he left not himself without witness.' xvii. 27, 28. he is not far from every one of us.' Rom. i. 19, 20. that which may be known of God is manifest in them.' and ii. 14, 15. the Gentiles.... shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness.' 1 Cor. i. 21.

after that in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew nọt God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. There can

* Unless there be, who think not God at all :

If any be, they walk obscure ;
For of such doctrine never was there school,
But the heart of the fool,
And no man therein doctor but himself. Samson Agonistes, 295.

B

[ocr errors]

be no doubt but that every thing in the world, by the beauty of its order, and the evidence of a determinate and beneficial purpose which pervades it, testifies that some supreme efficient Power must have pre-existed, by which the whole was ordained for a specific end./

There are some who pretend that nature or fate is this supreme power : * but the very name of nature implies that it must owe its birth to some prior agent, or, to speak properly, signifies in itself nothing; but means either the essence of a thing, or that general law which is the origin of every thing, and under which everything acts,-and(fate can be nothing but a divine decree emanating from some almighty power.)

Further, those who attribute the creation of every thing to nature, must necessarily associate chance with nature as a joint divinity ; so that they gain nothing by this theory, except that in the place of that one God, whom they cannot tolerate, they are obliged, however reluctantly, to substitute two sovereign rulers of affairs, who must almost always be in opposition to each other. In short, many ocular demonstrations, many true predictions verified, many wonderful works have compelled all nations to be

me SO

[ocr errors]

............ that Power

Which erring men call Chance. Cumus, 559. In allusion to the doctrines of the Stoicks, &c. Seneca De Beneficiis, iv. 8. 'Sic hunc naturam vocas, fatum, fortunam ; omnia ejusdem Dei nomina sunt, varie utentis sua potestate. Nat. Quæst. ii. 45. «Vis illum fatum vocare? non errabis.' The next clauses of this sentence contain in the original two of those conceits which are so frequent in Milton's works, and which can scarcely be preserved in a translation. The passage stands thus-' sed natura natam se fatetur, &c. ...... et fatum quid nisi effatum divinum om. nipotentis cujuspiam numinis potest esse??

VOL. I.

n

ween

lieve, either that God, or that some evil power whose name was unknown, presided over the affairs of the world. Now that evil should prevail over good, and be the true supreme power, is as unmeet as it is incredible. Hence it follows as a necessary consequence, that God exists.

Again : the existence of God is further proved by that feeling, whether we term it conscience, or right reason,* which even in the worst of characters is not altogether extinguished. (If there were no God, there would be no distinction between right and wrong; the estimate of virtue and vice would entirely depend on the blind opinion of men ; no one would follow virtue, no one would be restrained from vice by any sense of shame, or fear of the laws, unless conscience or right reason did from time to time convince every one, however unwilling, of the existence of God, the Lord and ruler of all things, to whom, sooner or later, each must give an account of his own actions, whether good or bad.

The whole tenor of Scripture proves the same thing; and the disciples of the doctrine of Christ may fairly be required to give assent to this truth in the first instance, according to the expression in Heb. xi. 6. he that cometh to God, must believe that he is.' It is proved also by the dispersion of the Jews throughout the whole world, according to what God often forewarned them would happen on

* Since thy, original lapse, true liberty

Is lost, which always with right reason dwells
Twinn'd.

Paradise Lost, XII. 83. * Reclæ rationi obtemperare discite.' Desensio Secunda pro Populo Anglicano. Prose Works, V. 266.

account of their sins. Nor is it only to pay the penalty of their own guilt that they have been reserved in their scattered state, among the rest of the nations, through the revolution of successive ages, and even to the present day; but rather to be a perpetual and living testimony to all people under heaven, of the existence of God, and of the truth of the Holy Scriptures.

No one, however, can have right thoughts of God, with nature or reason alone as his guide, independent of the word, or message of God.* Rom. x. 14. how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard ?

God is known, so far as he is pleased to make us acquainted with himself, either from his own nature, or from his efficient power.

When we speak of knowing God, it must be understood with reference to the imperfect comprehension of man; for to know God as he really is, far transcends the powers of man's thoughts, much more of his perception. 1 Tim. vi. 16.

dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto.' God therefore has made as full a revelation of himself as our minds can conceive, or the weak

* Left only in those written records pure,

Though not but by the Spirit understood. Paradise Lost, XII. 513. It will require no great labour of exposition to unfold what is here meant by matters of religion ; being as soon apprehended as defined, such things as belong chiefly to the knowledge and service of God, and are either above the reach and light of nature without revelation from above, and therefore liable to be variously understood by human reason,' &c. Treatise of Civil Power in Ecclesiastical Causes. Prose Works, III. 320. "True religion is the true worship and service of God, learnt and believed from the word of God only. No man or angel can know how God would be worshipped and served, unless God reveal it.' Of True Religion, &c. IV. 259.

« AnteriorContinuar »