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RELIGION has two principal enemies, Fanaticism and Infidelity, or that which is called Atheism. The first requires to be combated by reason and morality, the other by natural philosophy.
The existence of a God is the first dogma of the Theophilanthropists. It is upon this subject that I solicit your attention: for though it has been often treated of, and that most sublimely, the subject is inexhaustible, and there will always remain something to be said that has not been before advanced. I go therefore to open the subject, and to crave your attention to the end.
The universe is the bible of a true Theophilanthropist. It is there that he reads of God. It is there that the proofs of his existence are to be sought and to be found. As to written or printed books, by whatever name they are called, they are the works of man's hands, and carry no evidence in themselves that God is the author of any of them. It must be in something that man could not make, that we must seek evidence for our belief, and that something is the universe; the true Bible; the inimitable word of God. · Contemplating the universe, the whole system of creation, in this point of light, we shall discover, that all that which is called natural philosophy is properly a divine study. It is the study of God through his works. It is the best study, by which we can arrive at a knowledge of his existence, and the only one by which we can gain a glimpse of his perfection.
Do we want to contemplate his power? We see it in the iminensity of the Creation. Do we want to contemplate his wisdom? We see it in the unchangeable order by which the incomprehensible WHOLE is governed. Do we want to contemplate his munificence. We see it in the abundance with which be fills the earth. Do we want to
his existe his perfection. We his power?
contemplate his mercy? We see in his not withholding tuat abundance even from the unthankful. In fine, dowe want to know what God is? Search not written or printed books, but the Scripture called the Creation
It has been the error of the schools to teach astronomy, and all the other sciences, and subjects of natural philosopby, as accomplishments only; whereas they should be taught theologically, or with reference to the Being who is the author of them; for all the principles of science are of divine origin. Man cannot make, or invent, or contrive principles. Ile can only discover them; and he ought to look through the discovery to the author.
When we examine an extraordinary piece of machinery, an astonishing pile of architecture, a well executed statue. or an highly finished paintng, where life and action are imitated, and liabit only prevents our mistaking a surface of light and shade for cubical solidity, our ideas are naturally led to think of the extensive genius and talents of the artist. When we study the elements of geometry, we think of Euclid. When we speak of gravitation, we think of Newton. How then is it, that when we study the works of God in the Creation, we stop short, and do not think of God? It is from the error of the schools in having taught those subjects as accoinplishments only, and thereby separated the duty of them froin the Being who is the author of them.
The schools have made the study of theology to consist in the study of opinions in written or printed books: whereas theology should be studied in the works or book of the Creation. The study of theology in books of opi. nions bas often produced fanaticism, rancour, and crueltv of temper; and from hence have proceeded the numerous persecutions, the fanatical quarrels, the religious burnings, and inassacres, that have desolated Europe. But the study of theology in the works of the Creation produces a direct contrary eflect. The mind becomes at once enlightened and serene; a copy of the scene it beholds: information and adoration go hand in band; and all the social faculties become enlarged.
The evil that has resulted from the error of the schools, in teaching natural philosophy as an accomplishment only, has been that of generating in the pupils a species of Atheism. Instead of looking through the works of the Creation to the Creator himself, they stop short, and employ the knowledge they acquire to create doubts of his existence. They labour with studied ingenuity to ascribe every thing they behold to innate properties of matter; and jump over all the rest by saying, that matter is eternal,
Let us examine this subject; it is worth examining; for
if we examine it through all its cases, the result will be. that the existence of a superior cause, or that which man calls God, will be discoverable by philosophical principles.
In the first place, adrnitting matter to have properties, as we see it has, the question 'still remains, how came matter by those properties? To this they will answer, that matter possessed those properties eternally. This is not solution, but assertion; and to deny it is equally as impossible of proof as to assert it. It is then necessary to go further; and therefore I say, if there exists a cir. cumstance that is not a property of matter, and without which the universe, or, to speak in a limited degree, the solar system, composed of planets and a sun, could not exist a moment; all the arguments of Atheism, drawn from properties of inatter, and applied to account for the universe, will be overthrown, and the existence of a superior cause, or that which man calls God, becomes discoverable, as it is before said, by natural philosophy.
I go now to shew that such a circumstance exists, and what it is:
The universe is composed of matter, and, as a system, is sustained by motion. Motion is not a property of matter, and without this motion, the solar system could not exist. Were motion a property of matter, that undiscovered and undiscoverable thing called perpetual motion would establish itself. It is because inotion is not a property of matter that perpetual inotion is an impossibi. lity in the hand of every being but that of the Creator of mótion. When the pretenders of Atheism can produce perpetual motion, and not till then, they may expect to be credited.
The natural state of matter, as to place, is a state of rest. Motion, or change of place, is the effect of an external cause acting upon matter. As to that faculty of matter that is called gravitation, it is the influence which two or more bodies have reciprocally on each other to unite and be at rest. Every thing which has hitherto been discovered with respect to the motion of the planets in the system, relates only to the laws by which motion acts, and not to the cause of motion. Gravitation, so far froin being the cause of motion to the planets that compose the solar system, would be the destruction of the solar system, were revolutionary motion to cease: for as the action of spinding upholds a top, the revolutionary motion upholds the planets in their orbits, and prevents them from gravitating and forming one mass with the sun. In one sense of the word, philosophy knows, and Atheism says, that matter is in perpetual motion. But the motion here meant refers to the state of matter, and that only
called have recip
on the surface of the earth. It is either decomposition, which is continually destroying the form of bodies of matter or recoinposition, which renews that matter in the same or another form, as the decomposition of animal or vegetable substances enter into the composition of other bodies. But the motion that upholds the solar system is of an entire different kind, and is not a property of matter. It operates also to an entire different effect. It operates to perpetual preservation, and to prevent any change in the state of the system.
Giving then to inatter all the properties which pbilosophy knows it has, or all that Atheisin ascribes so it, and can prove, and even supposing matter to be eternal, it will not account for the system of the universe, or of the solar system, because it will not account for motion, and it is motion that preserves it. When, therefore, we discover a circumstance of such iinmense jinportance, tbat without it the universe could not exist, and for which neither matter, nor any, nor all the properties of matter can acconnt; we are by necessity forced into the rational and comfortable belief of the existence of a cause superior to matter, and that cause nan calls God.
As to that which is called nature, it is no other than the laws by which motion and action of every kind, with respect to unintelligible matter, is regulated. And when we speak of looking through nature up to nature's God. we speak philosophically the same rational language as when we speak of looking through human laws up to the power that ordained thein,
God is the power or first cause, nature is the law, and matter is the subject acted upon.
But infidelity, by ascribing every phenomenon to pro. perties of matter, conceives a systein for which it cannot account and yet it pretends to demonstration. It reasons from what it sees on the surface of the earth, but it does not carry itselt on the solar system existing by motion. It sees upon the surface a perpetual decomposition and lecomposition of matter. It sees that an oak produces an acorn, an acorn an oak, a bird an egg, and an egg a bird, and so on. In things of this kind it sees something which it calls natural cause, but none of the cause it sees is the cause of that motion which preserves the solar system.
Letus contemplate this wonderful and stupendous system consisting of matter and existing by motion. It is not matter in a state of rest, nor in a state of decomposition or recomposition. It is a matter systematized in perpetual orbicular or circular motion. As a system that motion is the life of it: as animation is life to an animal body, de. prive the system of motion, and, as a system, it must expire. Who then breathed into the system the life of