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rejection of this evidence—in faith or unbelief—inasmuch as it determines whether a man is, or is not, disposed to throw off his obligation to do right. The argument may be summarily expressed thus. Every man knows from his own consciousness, as surely as he knows his own existence, that he is susceptible to a distinction between right and wrong conduct. He knows, therefore, that such a distinction does exist. He knows that he himself ought to do good and not evil. Of course he is the subject of a moral law, written at least in his conscience, requiring the one and forbidding the other. He is then accountable for his conduct. The Being who created him, and who inserted in the constitution of his soul the sense of right and wrong, to commend the one and rebuke the other, prefers that he should conduct righteously. No inference can be more legitimate. In the appropriate use of his powers, no man can reason himself out of it, although in his folly he may sin himself out of it. Hence the sacred writer admits, that “the fool hath said in his heart, No God.” It is not until a man has foolishly sinned away and effaced this moral evidence of the divine Being from his mind, that he can say in his heart, “No God.” So abundant and overwhelming are the proofs, both without and within us, of the existence of a righteous God, to whom we are accountable for our conduct, that even the heathen are without excuse for not knowing and serving him. “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the
things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” Let nature speak in her own pure language, and her voice within us will unite with her voice without us, to proclaim the being and perfections of Him who made us. In the soul of him who has a natural and lively sensibility to moral obligations, whose conscience is pure and active, and whose conduct corresponds with his sense of duty, the evidence of the Divine Existence is as real as that of his own. Whether he direct his observation to creation within or creation without, to worlds of mind or worlds of matter, above, below, around him, in every direction he beholds the bright and living image of the glorious God. In the soundest convictions of his understanding, as well as in the deepest inspirations of his spirit, he can say with the poet— “Thou art, O God, the life and light Of all this wondrous world we see; Its glow by day, it smile by night, Are but reflections caught from thee.
Where'er we turn thy glories shine,
On this great and glorious BEING we continually depend. His smile is life; his frown is death. Having distinguished us from all other creatures upon earth, by investing us with a rational, accountable, and immortal nature, he has a supreme and perpetual claim upon our gratitude and love. If we do not like to retain him in our knowledge, if we deny his existence, forsake his law, and despise his grace, we shall be abandoned to the woes of a reprobate mind. The picture drawn by the great master of moral painting, is charged with colors too strong for time to efface, and too true to life not to be recognized as ever faithful to the original. To the present hour, it is as true of those who cast God from their minds, as when the picture was first drawn :-‘‘And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity ; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents; without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful ; who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in those that do them.” When men have debased themselves to this awful state of atheism, with its consequent and attendant vices, all that imparts value to existence is hastening to forsake them. The life of love and the love of life expire together. So soon as their worldly pleasures are exhausted, their very existence hangs as a burden upon them, and the chills of the second death seize fast and forever on their spirits. Corruption, gloom, and despair, take eternal possession of their souls. After a few short years of beastly and feverish existence upon earth, the grave opens to receive them ; but
* Romans i. 20,
no smiling God there meets them, to conduct their spirits to the mansions of the blessed;—the dark and angry billows of wrath sweep them downward into a cheerless, lost, miserable eternity. Such is heaven's high decree. They who, amid the blazing lights of nature and of revelation, will foolishly live “without God in the world,” must perish 1 But if we love to retain God in our knowledge, if we faithfully receive and obey his instructions, he will indeed be our heavenly Father, and we shall be indeed his happy children. He will cause all our trials, sufferings, and afflictions, to work together for our good; he will deliver us from all gloom and every fear; he will guide us with his counsel, and afterward receive us to glory. Protected in the ark of his grace, we shall outride every storm; secure in the secret of his pavilion, we shall be saved from every foe. Nothing shall ever be able to harm us; nothing to separate us from his love. When the brief term of our earthly existence shall be ended, he will receive us to a higher and brighter world,—to his immediate presence, where is fulness of joy, and to his right hand, where are pleasures forevermore. Immortal being, traveller to eternity, take the advice of a great and pious king to his son –“Know thou the God of thy fathers, and serve him with a true heart, and a willing mind. For the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts. If thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off forever !”
NATURAL ATTRIBUTES OF GOD,
HAVING proved that there is a God, we are prepared to consider his nature and attributes.
I. His NATURE. He is a living Spirit. So teach the sacred Scriptures, and all creation echoes their language. He is declared to be, by way of eminence, the “living God.” He has inherent life in himself, and is also the well-spring and source of all other life. “For as the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.” He “quickeneth all things;”f—that is, all things that live receive their life from him. He is then, in the highest conceivable sense, a LIVING BEING. It is no small point gained, when we are fully persuaded that God is really alive ; for our conceptions of him are prone to be very confused and feeble on this point. He is not only a living Being, but his life is of an order infinitely superior to that which we call animal life. His is not the derived and changing life of material and organized
* Heb. iii. 12. T John v. 26. f 1 Tim. vi. 13.