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could possibly be an atheist. For, in every sacred page, the true God is made manifest. 4. Had there been no God, it is very certain, considering the natural disposition of the human heart, that no man would ever have believed in a God. The whole human race, in all generations, would have been atheists; and this on just and rational ground. For, in this case, there would not have been a single argument, of any weight, to prove the existence of a #. Error is, in no measure, supported by rational argument. If there be no God, then all the seeming arguments which have been produced, and which can be produced, to prove the bein of a God, are but mere sophistry. And since mankin are so strongly bent on atheism, as to say in their hearts, * There is no God;” and so subtile and ingenious, as they are found to be, to evade the evidence of his exist. ence; we may be certain, that if there were no God, no man would be in the least danger of beiieving, obeying or trusting in any god whatever, . Of sinful men it is said, “God is not in all their thoughts;” and “ they do not like to retain God in their knowledge.” What then could induce mankind, without the most forcible evidence, to believe in the existence of a God P 5. We are therefore led to conclude, that the almost universal belief in one or more Gods, by men of all characters, and of all ages, is a strong proof of the being of a God. Traditions, and maxims in religion, however vague and fabulous, have their foundation in some important realities. Mere fictions grow out of certain matters of fact : so that the most corrupt and idolatrous notions of the Deity as well as the most rational and correct, serve as a proof of the being of a God.
Having found abundant evidence of the being of a God, who is the first cause of all things; the Almighty Creator and Governor of the universe; who is the Father of our spirits, and the former of our bodies; in whose hand our breath is, and whose are all our ways; we are
t THE INSPIRATION OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES. 7
led to realize the importance of glorifying him as God. Such is the stupidity and atheism of the human heart, that mankind in general, are very little influenced by the consideration, or even by the belief of the existence of a God. They even dare to blaspheme his sacred name. “In works they deny him, being abominable and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” It is certainly rational, and highly important, that those who have believed in God, should be careful, not only to maintain good works; but also to worship him, and glorify his name, “A son honoreth his father, and a servant his master. If I then be a father, where is mine honor P and if Ibe a master, where is my fear * saith the Lord of hosts.” Doubtless the Most High God, who is the possessor of heaven and earth, acts with a supreme regard to his own honor and glory ; and with a suitable regard to the welfare of his rational creatures. Doubtless, “ the Judge of all the earth doth o, With great reason and propriety, therefore, does he demand of all his rational creatures, their tribute of honor and glory. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, he honor and glory, forever and ever—Jimen.
In the foregoing Essay, we have attended to the first, and the fundamental article in the system of divine truth. Evidence has been given of the existence of a supreme, eternal, and immutable being, who is called God. And, that we may be the more abundantly furnished with ar. guments, in the discussion and oof all the following articles of the system, it is proposed, in the next place, to prove the divine inspiration of the Holy scriptures.
That mankind, on many accounts, stand in very great need of a revelation from God, is generally granted, by those who are favored with the holy scriptures; and has been granted, by many of the most candid and inquisitive, even among the heathen. The wisest of men; in every age and nation, have found by experience, and, in their writings, have frankly acknowledged, that, without a clear and infallible revelation from God, no man, in this sinful and benighted state, can know his character and will ; nor can any man know his own state and character. Such is the ignorance of mankind, because of the blindness of their hearts, that not one can be found, who is able, by the light of nature, to suggest a ground of hope for sinners. It is impossible for man to decide, by his own reasonings, whether God can, on any ground, be propitious to the guilty. Or indeed, whether there is, or is not, a future and eternal state of reward and punishment. Untaught of God, the sober and reflecting part of mankind must, of necessity, be in a state of great darkness, doubt and despondency. Well may to despairingly cry, “Who will shew us any good P” who can give us any light, on subjects infinitely important At the same time, We observe, that there is an impression on the minds of mankind in general, that the Deity is good ; that he is kind and merciful : and that he is willing to enlighten and instruct his rational creatures. Some indeed have held to the doctrine of two supreme beings, one good, and the other evil : one the author of all good, .# the other the author of all evil. But this is generally, and justly considered as an absurdity. The general impression on the human mind is, that the Lord is good ; and that he is disposed, in his own time and way, to enlighten the world, by an infallible divine revelation. From these two considerations, that mankind stand in perishing need of instruction from God; and that He is kindly ion to give them instruction; we have strong presumptive evidence, that there is, somewhere, an infaliible revelation from God. But where is this revelation to be found P Do we find it in the Alcoran; No. In the losofheaten mythology P No. Where then, except
in the bible, do we find a divine revelation P Certainly no where at all. It remains now to be proved distinctly, from various sources of argument, that the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God. The evidences of this important truth are various; and it is conceived, they are conclusive. The evidences to be adduced are external, and internal. As an external evidence, we may state, 1. The vast number and variety of miracles which have been wrought in the name, and by the power and authority of God; and expressly, for the confirmation of his word, and his truth. A miracle is a supernatural work of God; or a work, by which the laws of nature, so called, are suspended or controuled. It is not only a work, which, like the works of creation and providence, exceeds all finite power and wisdom; but a work which counteracts the most common Operations of divine power and wisdom. When the rod of Moses became a serpent, and was presently restored to a rod in his hand; a miracle was wrought. When, by stretching forth his rod, according to divine direction, Moses brought upon Egypt all the successive plagues, till the first-born of man and beast were destroyed; and till their king and armies were overwhelmed in the red sea; and when the sea itself was divided, for the safe passage of the Israelites; and for their escape from the armies of Egypt; miracles were wrought. It is folly to allege, as some do, that these astonishing events were effected by the skill and power of magic. For the magicians themselves were sufferers in the plagues; and they acknowledged the finger of God in the plague of lice. Now, is it possible to suppose, that all these things were the efsect of magic, or of mere deception, and cunning craftimess? For this is all that is meant by magic. Will any one imagine, that the pillar of cloud by day, and of fire by night, which was an infallible guide to Israel forty years in the wilderness; and which led them to the land of promise, was the effect of magic * If all these were the
effects of magic; then the world is governed by magic.