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Gods, there has been an infinite diversity in the modes of divine Worship; and the errors and absurdities, with which all religions, except those of Moses and of Christ, have abounded, fully evince the weakness of the human intellect when unassisted by revelation. Some few individuals, in the different ages of the world, have indeed rejected all belief in the existence of a God; but we may generally trace the rejection of a Deity to the source of pride or of profligacy; and even the late public avowal of Atheism, by those who have usurped the government in a neighbouring country, originating from a philosophy falsely so called, and accompanied by crimes unparalleled in the annals of mankind, cannot be considered as in any degree affecting the argument arising from general consent, especially when it is remembered that this apostacy from religion is clearly foretold in the holy Scriptures (c).
But a more direct proof of the being of a God may be derived from the universe itself; we are not only conscious of our own existence, but we
(c) Vide Mr. Kett's “ History the Interpreter of Prophecy;" a very interesting work, written with great elegance and judgment, and which I recommend to all who are desirous of becoming acquainted with the prophecies of the Old and New Testaments, especially those which relate to the present times.
also know that there exists a great variety of other things, both material and spiritual. It is equally inconceivable that these things should have existed from all eternity in their present state, or that they should have fallen into this state by chance; and consequently as there was a time when they did not exist, and as it was impossible for them to produce themselves, it follows, that there was some exterior agent or creator to whom the world owed its beginning and form; that agent or creator we call God. “We read,” says bishop Pearson, “ the Great Artificer of the world in the work of his own hands, and by the existence of any thing we demonstrate the first cause of all things (d).” And since it is absurd to suppose that there are two prime causes of all things, two supreme governors of the world, or two selfexistent and independent Beings of infinite perfections, we are obliged to conclude that God is One. The Supreme Being, however, has not left this important truth to the deduction of human reason only, but has confirmed and established it by Revelation. The unity of God is expressly declared in many passages of Scripture: “ Hear,
Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord (e).”— “ Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest
know (d) Pearson on the Creed, 41 ?. re) Deut. c. 6. 1.4.
know that the Lord he is God, there is none else beside him (f)." He is God in heaven above and upon the earth beneath; there is none else (g ).”-“I am the first, and I am the last; and besides me there is no God (h).".. « We know that there is none other God but one (i)." " There is one God (j)."-We, therefore, cannot but agree to the first assertion in this article, in opposition to the sinful presumption of atheists, and to the false polytheism of the heathen, that THERE IS ONE, AND BUT ONE LIVING AND TRUE GOD. St. Paul in his First Epistle to the Thessalonians applies the epithets “ living and true” to God; “ Ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God (k).” And the prophet Jeremiah says, “ The Lord is the true God, he is the living God (1). He is the living God, that is, “ he hath life in himself (m); he is self-existent, deriving his being from no exterior cause; “ In him we live (n)."
" He giveth life to all things (0).” He is the fountain and origin of life to all the animated part of the creation; he is the true God, as
· (f) Deut. c. 4. v.35.
(h) Is. C. 44. v.6.
(g) Deut. c.4. v.39.
distinguished from the vain gods of the Gentiles, “ This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God (p).”
The article next states, that God is EVERLASTING; that is, that he has existed from all past eternity, and will continue to exist to all future eternity (9). The Supreme Creator of all things must necessarily have existed from all eternity, since he could not have caused his own existence; and he must continue to exist to all eternity, since a being cannot cease to be, when there is no superior by whom his annihilation, or any alteration in him can be produced, and when there is nothing in his own essence which is subject to change or decay. We may rely upon the truth and certainty of these conclusions, but at the same time we must acknowledge that our capacities can by no means comprehend how a being exists necessarily, independently, and eternally (r). God is in several passages of Scrip
ture (P) John, c. 17. v.3.
(9) Æternum proprie dicitur, quod neque initium ut esset habuit, neque cessare unquam potest esse. Origen. Or. Periarch. cap. 3.
(r) “ It is to be observed,” says Dr. Clarke, “ that the Scripture, as it does not much insist upon proving to us the being of God, but rather always supposes that to be already known by the light of nature, so also, when it mentions any of the natural attributes
ture styled eternal and everlasting: “The eternal God is thy refuge (s).”—“ Hast thou not heard that the everlasting God fainteth not, neither is weary (t).”—“Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory, for ever and ever (u).”-“ According to the commandment of the everlasting God ( x)." And in the Revelation of St. John, the eternity of God is thus described : “ I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty (y).
To suppose that God is circumscribed by body, consists of material parts, or is liable to passions, would be so utterly inconsistent with our ideas of infinite perfection, with our notion of a Being who is equally present every where, and who is free from every possible defect, that
we of the divine essence, it does not usually enlarge upon the proof or explication of them, but generally makes mention of them oocasionally only, and as presupposing them beforehand well known by men's reason.” Vol. 1. Serm.5. To which may be added, the tradition of the revelations to Adam and the early patriarchs, and the evidence from prophecies and miracles continually before the people to whom the Old Testament was immediately addressed. (s) Deut. c. 33. V. 27.
(t) Is. C.40. V. 28. (u) 1 Tim. c. 1. v. 17. (x) Rom. c. 16. v. 26. (y) Rev. c. 1. v. 8.