« AnteriorContinuar »
Of the being of a God. Of the Sabeans, and opinions refpecting Zoroafter; in treating on which fubjects is introduced an Antidote to the pernicious principles inculcated in a late work intitled,
RUINS, OR A SURVEY OF THE REVOLUTIONS OF EMPIRES-BY VOLNEY.
MAN being formed a rational creature,
undoubtedly, from the moment he is capable of exercising his understanding, proves himfelf to be a religious being; that very power of which he finds himself poffeffed, whereby he mechanically models the rude materials which he finds, fo as to answer the various purposes of his neceffities, and to render his condition in life more convenient and comfortable; that very power thus exerted, leads him to confider the great probability that fome BEING OF BEINGS of a fuperior order to himself exift, whose wisdom and power have been the cause of Being to all the visible creation. Man
Man without more than the natural light of reason, would at first find himfelf more difpofed to believe in a plurality of deities than in one God. The diverfity and infinite variety with which creation abounds, would give him an idea of a number of wife and powerful agents of different orders and fubordinate capacities. He would not, at least until his reafon became well exercised and improved, be able to discern, that what he had imputed to many agents might with more propriety be the work of one infinite and Almighty Being.
How far the faculties of man are capable of arriving at a demonftrative proof of this, may be judged by the very defective methods already tried by the moft learned men ; CLARK, LOCKE, WOOLASTON, HAMILTON, names highly to be refpected, have failed in their attempts; yet have all the fatisfaction to have advanced more good fenfe on the subject, than their adverfaries.
If we had ideas which could lead to demonftration, we could never find words fufficiently clear, unexceptionable and unequivocal to express thofe ideas. 'Tis true, that effential properties are capable of demonftration it is alfo true, that the attributes of P 24 God
God are effential attributes, and therefore capable of demonstration.
The effential properties of mathematical figures admit of demonftration; but to whom? to those who have been, by fuitable ideas of fenfation and reflection, capacitated for fuch demonftration. To whom are the being and attributes of God demonftrable? to those alone who are poffeffed of previous ideas, fuited to the magnitude of the fubject. Man has none fuch: a blind man can as well treat of colours, as he of the divine effence. Why was Revelation neceffary? was it not to instruct us, in what we could not by natural reafon understand? canft thou by fearching find out God? canft thou find the Almighty to perfection? as far as thou canst proceed, the pursuit is glorious.
When James and John, the fons of Zebedee, made requeft of Chrift that they might fit the one on his right hand, and the other on his left in his glory, their request and faith were well received, although they did not gain an abfolute promife of fuch exalted happiness. What can be fo defirable as the knowledge of God and of his attributes! and our weak and humble efforts will be acceptable; fuch as depend upon revelation, have a light that
must give them every fatisfaction; and the light of reafon, however imperfect, will be found to all who exercife it properly, at least fufficient to prepare the mind for the reception of revelation. How far this may be done, and what order we fhould use in our inquiry may be worth our attention.
But at prefent I fhall leave this subject which has been treated on by men of the greatest abilities; fuffice it to say, that after every inveftigation that human wifdom is capable of, we muft ftill wander much in the dark, unless we are affifted by revelation. My intention therefore, at prefent, is to propofe fome arguments which may serve to guard the mind against the recent attempts of modern Revolutionifts, who endeavour to feduce mankind from the advantages they enjoy from religious impreffions; the only rampart against a state of favage nature, however fuch a state may be extolled under the fpecious and deceptive appellation of Equality and Liberty.
VOLNEY, with vaft effrontery, after having totally denied the existence of any authentic or facred records, whereupon - a rational belief ought to be grounded with refpect to the firft ages of the world, their
religious tenets, and knowing, that from what is called profane hiftory he could have no ground for information, takes upon himself that arduous task, and would have us receive his fanciful and ill-founded affertions as unerring principles. If, fays he, "metamorphofes, apparitions and converfations of one or more Gods recorded in the facred books of the Hindoos, the Hebrews, and the Parfes, are indeed events of real hiftory, it follows, that nature in those times was perfectly unlike the nature we are acquainted with now, that men of the prefent age are totally different from the men that formerly exifted; and confequently, that we ought not to trouble our heads about them." Most excellent reasoning! Because, God is faid to have converfed with Abraham, if he really did, therefore Abraham muft have totally differed from the prefent race of mankind! What is there in the present race of men, that renders fuch an interview impoffible ? This over wife philofopher must furely know he cannot but acknowledge, however, that the impreffion of at leaft fome one fuperintendent deity influenced the minds of the most remote inhabitants of the