Sidor som bilder
[graphic][merged small][ocr errors]






INSPIRATION. When any communication challenges passes every other medium of communiour belief as a divine revelation, before cation which we can imagine the Deity we entertain its pretensions, we ought to to select for the purpose of conveying and satisfy ourselves that its discoveries are perpetuating the knowledge of himself. on subjects of infinite importance, the There are two methods of treating the knowledge of which could be derived subject which I am now to submit to the from no other source; and that the me- attention of the reader. The one didactic dium through which it comes to us is the and argumentative — advancing to the best adapted to answer the designs of the conclusion, step by step; the other, great Being with whom it is said to ori- boldly contrasting the doctrines and preginate. In the Holy Scriptures, both cepts of revelation with the dicta of mothese prerequisites are to be found; the dern philosophy on these great subjects; being and government of God, human by which we not only establish our posiduty and human destiny, are the avowed tion, but establish it on the ruins of mysteries on which they profess to shed human pretension and arrogance; this a heavenly, a revealing lustre; and the latter method I shall adopt, as more pomedium through which it shines is pular, and equally conclusive. The Bible precisely that which is adapted to the takes for granted the Being, and pourtrays faculties and circumstances of the race the character of God—thus laying down of creatures for whose instruction and the moral principle on which the superhappiness it is intended. What is writ- structure of his actual government is ten remains. What thus remains, may erected. A great proportion of our inbe diffused and multiplied to an in- fidel writers deny the existence of God : definite extent. Constructed as the Bible others inculcate a universal scepticism. is, and written by different holy men of Atheism is just now the most approved God, as they were inspired in different infidel philosophy; in some undisguised, ages, consisting partly of history, of pro- in others clothed with speculations that phecies, of doctrine, of precepts, of prin- seem to admit the existence of a Deity. ciples, facts, events, all tending to esta- | “ Deism," says one of the former school, blish virtue on its proper basis, and to “is but the first step of reason out of purify the heart, by awakening the facul- | superstition ;-that is out of revealed relities and illuminating the mind; it sur- gion.” No person remains a Deist but


2 v

hrough want of reflection, timidity, pas-, it is indispensable that we should form sion, or obstinacy; time, experience, and ideas corresponding with its nature, is an impartial examination of our ideas, chiefly displayed in his moral governwill undeceive us; “ that is, make us ment, and this is purely a subject of Atheists." “ The Eternal Being," says revelation, for we shall soon perceive another, “is no other than nature uncre- | that philosophy knows as little of the ated and uncreatable. Man, when free, Divine government as of the Divine chawants no other divinity than himself." racter. From the author of “ The Vestiges of The moral government of God relative Creation," we learn that it is a system of to this world, means his conduct towards mechanical and chemical operations of the children of men ; and regards the matter, which, by a happy and mysteri- providence which he exercises, the worous energy at some lucky moment, gave ship he requires, the laws he enjoins, birth to thought and volition, which, by the mercy he displays, and the destiny a concurrence of circumstances equally he reveals; and these all operating as lucky, have since continued themselves. motives to check vice, and promote Deism is inconsistent with itself. It is virtue; or, in other words, to lessen an admission of the being of a God, but misery, and to increase the sum of hapthe denial of his attributes; it is an ad- piness. mission of his Being, but a denial of his! 1. The first great truth which nature providence; it is an acknowledgment of yearns after, and only revelation can the world, or of fire, or of all the ele- | supply, is that of providence. The funments of an unknown anima mundi, or damental axiom of infidelity utterly resoul of the universe. Hobbes, (so lately pudiates this. Laws without government, taken into favour, and splendidly pre- effects without a cause, an unconscious sented to the world, in a new edition of world that creates and sustains itself; his works by a British Legislator,) asserts this is its whole amount. Not one of that, that “which is not matter, is no- all the infidel tribe, not even among thing." Mr. Hume maintains that it is those who have lit their torch at the unreasonable to believe God to be infi- | altar of revelation, in order to set fire to nitely wise and good ; and Lord Boling- the temple, as far as I can learn, not one broke, that he is possessed of no moral has explicitly taught that the Almighty attributes--that he did not determine the Father sustains the world he has created existence of particular men, and, of by perpetual watchfulness and operations course, that he determined nothing that he is incessantly at work, only conWhat a different spirit illumines the cealed under the uniformity of the laws by pages of revelation! There at least there which he acts; and that in this, his incesis grandeur and consistency, perfection sant vigilance and exertion, he wills and and harmony. There God is displayed continues as a final cause, the happiness as a Being of eternal Majesty, self-ex- of his creatures. The God of such writers istent, spiritual, independent, omnipo- as the author of the “ Vestiges" is the tent, omniscient, and omnipresent-a mere Creator of the universe; with this Being of infinite purity, justice, wiedom, first act, according to them, he retires into truth, and love. The whole book is ra- bis own ineffable and unapproachable diant with God. Here continually the majesty, withdrawing bis omnipotence, Deity breaks forth in his native and ori his omniscience, his omnipresence, altoginal glory; and we can no more doubt gether from the scene of his creating his presence than that of the sun, when, energy. By a very few, a general, or in cloudless splendour, he issues from his rather an occasional providence is ad. tabernacle, and awakes the whole crea mitted, restricted to great occasions and tion to beauty and rapture.

great events. What a relief to turn from But the moral character of God, of which such a cheerless waste of barren specula

tion, and heartless blasphemy to the and commends it as a Divine communiparadise of revelation, and its glowing cation to our reason and conscience, is anthems of devout adoration and praise ! the worship which he requires. Here we learn to exclaim, with the On the admission that there is a God, psalmist, “Whither shall I go from thy and that he rules the world in wisdom Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy and in goodness, we found the reasonpresence? If I 'ascend up into heaven, ableness of worshipping him. If there thou art there; if I make my bed in be a God, there must be some religion; hell, behold thou art there. If I take or, in other words, some homage must the wings of the morning, and dwell in be due from an intelligent and dependent the uttermost parts of the sea, even there creature to his Creator, Preserver, and shall thy hand lead me, and thy right Benefactor ; and as on the nature of this hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the worship depends the honour of the Deity darkness shall cover me, even the night to whom it is offered, and the dignity, shall be light about me; yea, the dark- virtue, and happiness of the worshipper, ness hideth not from thee, but the night it is of the highest importance that it shineth as the day; the darkness and should be understood; it must be known the light are both alike to thee.” before it can be performed.

With what profound awe and delight Deism is not a religion: it builds no do we traverse these bright regions, temples, it convenes no worshippers; and where the meanest individual and the when it does not absolutely interdict the minutest fact, and the most trivial cir- 1 duties of piety, it coldly leaves the heart cumstance are brought together with either to perform or neglect them, ac, the mightiest potentates, the most stu- cording to the dictates of feeling or conpendous revolutions, and the most mar- venience. But its spirit is essentially vellous events, as all and equally under indevout. The attributes of its deity the care and superintendence of the infi- neither inspire reverence nor conciliate nite mind, without whom not a sparrow regard. Where there is no Providence, falls to the ground; nothing being so supplication must be vain. And if the small and inconsiderable as to escape his Almighty dwells in eternity, wrapped up infinite knowledge; nothing so great and in the abstractions of his own Infinite ponderous, as to encumber his almighty Nature, totally regardless of the universe power. How delightful to receive the which he made only to abandon, every unequivocal assurance, “ The Lord reign- incentive to devotion is taken away. Here eth;"—that “ his eyes are in every place, we find Deistical writers perfectly consistbeholding the evil and the good;”--that ent with themselves. However diversified "he supplieth the wants of every living their viewe on other subjects, here, with few thing; "that "his" sun shines, and his exceptions, they are agreed : even those rain descends in obedience to his com- that admit the reasonableness of prayer mand, and under his immediate guidance; and praise, do not inculcate them from —that “in him we live, and move, and adequate motives; while for the most have our being ;"—that he ordereth our part they neutralize the admission by goings ;-that he "guides us by his representations of the Deity, of the soul, council,” upholds us by his power, re- and of accountableness, which totally innews our lives, and restores our souls ;- dispose the heart either to the one or the that he is "our refuge and strength; other. and a very present help in every time of One sentence uttered by Jesus Christ, trouble ;"—that, “as a father pitieth his our great Teacher, on things pertaining children, so the Lord pitieth them that to God, outweighs all the volumes of fear him.”

philosophy that were ever written ; and 2. The second consideration which stands unrivalled and alone an undoubted illustrates the moral character of God, proof of the infinite superiority of the Scriptures to all other writings since the lull it to repose under the commission beginning of time: “God is a Spirit, of the foulest offences against God and and they that worship him must worship society. him in spirit and in truth.” In the In this view infidelity bears one unScriptures we are furnished not only with varying character. " The new moral all the intellectual and moral elements of world” of the modern Socialist is but personal and social worship, and with an attempt to realise, and to bring into the simple institution through which it is practical operation the philosophy of to be presented, and the medium which Shaftesbury and Collins, of Bolingbroke renders it acceptable; but it is prescribed and Hume, whose visionary prospects and enforced, and exceeding great and are to be consummated when individuals precious promises are added to inflame renounce their property, subjects their our devotion, and to encourage our hope. allegiance, — when busbands repudiate Here we are taught to approach the their wives, and parents their children, throne of the heavenly grace, not with and every man does without commendavictims but with virtues ; not with forms tion or reproach what is neither right but with fervour; not with pomp but nor wrong in his own eyes. By these with piety, with adoration, with love, men, and all of their class, I am sent to with reverence, and with praise. The the brutes to ascertain my social relations, worship and the God are worthy of each to Atheism that I may forget my God; other; and it may be justly said of and to my uncontrolled instincts, acted Christians that they alone honour God as upon by external circumstances, that I he wishes to be honoured.

may revel in sensuality or wallow in 3. The next great character of the blood. Wearied by these monstrous abmoral system which the Scriptures re- errations of such evil hearts of unbelief, veal, and which alone is worthy of the we turn again to this blessed volume. Supreme Ruler who governs the world, Methinks I can at this moment better is the law which he enjoins, or the mo- understand the devout exclamation of the rality which he prescribes. And it is holy psalmist than at any former moment here we find the principal reasons which of my life: “Thy statutes have been have irritated the pride and inflamed my song in the house of my pilgrimage;" the enmity of infidels against our holy “How I love thy law;" " The law of religion, and which fact is in my view a thy mouth is better unto me than thoupowerful collateral argument in its fa- sands of gold and silver.” It is the code vour. It has been profoundly observed of heaven, and cordially obeyed by the by a celebrated French preacher, " that children of men it would create heaven if men never had vices, or if religion upon earth. So thought Augustine when had countenanced them, unbelief would addressing the heathen of his time. never have appeared

on the earth.” That 4. The next consideration of moment men of depraved and ungovernable pas- which illustrates the moral character and sions should labour with the exasperated government of God, and which estabmalignity of fiends to destroy all moral lishes the authority of the Bible as a distinctions, and especially to break Divine revelation, regards the mercy down the mounds and barriers which which he displays; or the provision would confine their pollutions within their which he has made for the pardon of sin own corrupt bosoms is perfectly natural; and the recovery of man from the moral and we are therefore not at all surprised degradation and the fearful horrors of to find the sophistries which would ob- his apostacy. Mercy differs from all the literate all impression of the being and other attributes of the Supreme Raler. government of God, associated with all The display of these in creation, provithose detestable and pestilential opiates dence, and moral government is essential designed for the conscience, which may to the glory of the Divine character.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »