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OF GOD, HIS WORD, NAMES, NATURE,
PERFECTIONS, AND PERSONS.
OF THE BEING OF GOD.
SOME, because the Being of God is a first principle, not to be disputed; and because that there is one is a self-ev. ident proposition, not to be disproved; have thought it should not be admitted as a matter of debate :* but since such is the malice of Satan, as to suggest the contrary to the minds of men; and such the badness of some wicked men as to listen to it, and imbibe it; and such the weakness of some good men as to be harrassed and distressed with doubts about it, at times ; it cannot be improper to endeavour to fortify our minds with reasons and arguments against such suggestions and
My first argument to prove the Being of a God, shall be taken from the general consent of men of all nations, in all ages of the world ; among whom, the belief of it has universally obtained, which it is not reasonable to suppose would have obtain. ed, if it was not true.
Aristotle says, all men have a persuasion of Deity, or that there is a God. Cicero observes, I
Sa Aristotle says, every problem and proposition is not to be disputed; they that doubt whether God is to be worshipped, and parents loved, are to be punished, and not disputed with. Topic: 1.1. 6. % De Coelo,l. 1. c-3. Tusculan. Quæst. 1. 1. c. 13.
“There is no nation so wild and savage, whose minds are not imbued with the opinion of the gods; many entertain wrong notions of them; but all suppose and own the divine power and nature.” To the same sense are the words of Seneca, “ There never was a nation so dissolute and abandoned, so lawless and immoral, as to believe there is no God.” Plutarch* has these remarkable words, "If you go over the earth, says he, you may find cities without walls, letters, kings, houses, wealth, and money, devoid of theatres and schools ; but a city without temples and gods, and where is no use of prayers, oaths, and oracles, nor sacrifices to obtain good or avert evil, no man ever saw.” In the first ages
of the world, men universally believed in the true God, and worshipped him as Adam and his sons, and their posterity, until the flood; nor does there appear any trace of idolatry before it, nor for some time after. The sins which caused that, and with which the world was filled, seem to be lewdness and uncleanness, rapine and violence. As men were remote from those among whom the true worship of God was preserved; they, by degrees lost sight of the true God, and forsook his worship; and this being the case, they began to worship the sun in his stead, and which led on to the worship of the moon, and the host of heaven. It
appears also that men took very early to the deifying of their heroes after death, their kings, great personages, either for their wisdom and knowledge, or for their courage and valour, and marshal exploits and other things; such were the Bel or Belus, of the Babylonians; the Baal-peor of the Moabites; the Moloch of the Phoenicians; and other Baal. im, lords, or kings, mentioned in the scriptures: and such were Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Hercules; and the rest of the rabble of the heathen deities. As for the gentiles, they worshipped almost every thing; not only the sun, moon, and stars; but the earth, fire, and water; and various sorts of ani. mals, as oxen, goats, and swine ; cats and dogs; the fishes of the rivers, the river.horse, and the crocodile, those amphibious creatures; the fowls of the air, as the hawk, stork, and ibis; and even insects, as the fly ; yea, creeping things, as serpents,
* Adv. Colotem, vol. 2. p. 1125.
the beetle, &c. as also vegetables, onions, and garlic; which occasioned the satyrical* poet to say, O sanctas gentes, quibus hec nascuntur in hortis, numina! O holy nations, whose gods are born in their gardens ! Some have worshipped the devil himself.
I am sensible that to this it is objected, that there have been at different times, and in different countries, some particular personst who have been reckoned atheists, deniers of the being of a God. But some of these men were only deriders of the gods of their country; others were so accounted, because they excluded the gods from any concern with human affairs ; but these men were not deniers of the existence of God, only of his providence as to the affairs of the world : and others have been rather practical than speculative atheists, as the fool, in Ps. xiv. 1. Indeed, all men in an unregenerated state, be they Jews or Gentiles, or live where they may, are atheists; as the apostle calls them, Eph. ii. 12. they are, " without God in the world, being alienated from the life of God," ch. iv. 18.
The second argument shall be taken from the law and light of nature; or from the general instinct in men, or impress of
on the mind of every man. Senecat makes use of this to prove there is a God; “ because, says he, an opinion or sense of deity, is implanted in the minds of all men.” There are some, indeed, who deny there are any innate ideas in the minds of men, and particularly concerning God: but to such writers and reasoners I pay but little regard; when the inspi.
apostle assures us, that even the Gentiles, destitute of the law of Moses, have the work of the law written in their hearts, Rom. ii. 15. which, as it regards duty to God, as well as man, necessarily supposes the knowledge of him; as well as of the difference between good and evil, as founded upon his nature and will. If it was the contrivance of politicians to keep men
awe, and under subjection, it must be the contrivance of one man, or more united together. If of one, say, who is the
"Juvenal. Satyr. 15. v. 10. + Plutarch. de Placitis Philosoph. 1. | Ul suprå.
man? in what age he lived, and where? If of more, say when and where they existed ?
Under this head may be observed the innate desires of men after happiness, which are so boundless as not to be sa. tisfied; these desires are not in vain implanted, there must be an object answerable unto them; a perfect Being, which is no other than God, who is the first cause and last end of all things, of which the Psalmist says, Whom have I in heaven but thee! and there is none on earth my soul desires besides thee. Psalm Ixxiii. 25.
The third argument, proving the Being of God, shall be taken from the works of creation ; concerning which the apos. tle says, the invisible things of God, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen; being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, Rom. i. 20. Most admirable was the reasoning of a wild Greenlander,* which he declared to a missionary to be the reasoning of his mind before his conversion; “ It is true, said he to him, we were ignorant heathens, and knew nothing of God, or a Sa. viour; and, indeed, who should tell us of him till you came? but thou must not imagine that no Greenlander thinks about these things. I myself have often thought: a kajak (a boat) with all its tackle and implements, does not grow into exist. ence of itself, but must be made by the labour and ingenuity of man; and one that does not understand it, would directly spoil it. Now, the meanest bird has far more skill displayed in its structure, than the best kajak; and no man can make a bird: But there is still a far greater art shewn in the formation of a man, than of any other creature. Who was it that made him ? I bethought me that he proceeded from his parents, and they from their parents; but some must have been the first parents; whence did they come? common report informs me, they grew out of the earth : but if so, why does it not still happen that men grow out of the earth ? and from whence did this same earth itself, the sea, the sun, the moon,
Crantz's History of Greenland.
and stars, arise into existence ? Certainly there must be some Being who made all these things; a Being that always was, and can never cease to be. He must be inexpressibly more mighty, knowing, and wise, than the wisest man.
He must be
very good too, because that every thing that he has made is good, useful, and necessary for us. Ah, did I but know him, how would I love him and honour him! But who has seen him? who has ever conversed with him? None of us poor
Yet there may be men too that know something of him. O that I could but speak with such ! therefore, said he, as soon as ever I heard you speak of this great Being, I be. lieved it directly, with all my heart ; because I had so long desired to hear it.” A glaring proof this, that a supreme Being, the first cause of all things, is to be concluded from the works of creation. There is nothing in the whole creation the mind can contemplate, the eye look upon, or the hand lay hold
on, ' but what proclaims the Being of God. Galen, an ancient noted physician, being atheistically inclined, was convinced of his impiety by barely considering the admirable structure of the eye ; ils various humours, tunics, and provision for its defence and safety. But the soul of man, the more noble part
of him, more fully discovers the original author of him ;* being possessed of such powers and faculties that none but God could give.
The fourth argument will be taken from the sustentation and government of the world ; the provision made for the supe ply of creatures, and especially of man, and for his safety. As the world is made by a divine Being, so by him it consists. Was there not such an almighty Being, '“ who upholds all things by the word of his power,” they would sink and fall. Did he not bear up the pillars of the earth, they would trema ble and shake, and not be able to bear its weight; as he that built all things is God, so he that supports the fabric of the universe must be so too; no less than an almighty hand can preserve and continue it: and which has done it, without any
So Plato proves the Being of God from the soul of man, de Legibus, P. 998.