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the most affecting circumstance is, that, whilst warm disputes about the Rights of Man occupy the attention of multitudes, the Rights of God are proportionably disregarded. The eager disputants on both sides of the question too much overlook them; but many on one side most outrageously trample upon, and even blaspheme, them; as if the great Creator alone had no rights! Or as if it were one of the rights of man to despise and defy him, in whom he lives, moves, and exists!
It will not, therefore, I trust, be deemed unseasonable at this juncture, if an advocate (though a feeble one,) venture forth to plead in behalf of the Rights of God; as he is the Creator, providential Benefactor, and moral Governor of the universe; and in respect of his dealings with those creatures which have rebelled against him. Such is the in-. tention and plan of the ensuing treatise; by which I would endeavour, in this day of scepticism and infidelity, to establish the faith of believers, and to assist them in "giving a reason of the hope that is "in them:" and to obviate some specious objections which philosophizing deists or sceptics have started against revelation, or against some of the doctrines, commandments, or transactions contained in the inspired volume: and at the same time I shall attempt to lead men's attention to religion, as true and practical wisdom, and their grand interest both here and hereafter. Since, therefore, our subject is of the greatest importance to every man, I would intreat the reader to consider it with patient and serious application, as well as with candour and impartiality; nor can it justly be censured as irrational, if he be reminded
to accompany the perusal with prayer to "the Fa"ther of lights," and "the Giver of every good
gift," to bestow upon him that wisdom which comes from above, and which guides the humble and teachable in the way to everlasting felicity.
RIGHTS OF GOD.
It would be a waste of time to offer many arguments in proof of the existence of a God: for though many avow themselves atheists or sceptics, yet their hearts are more disordered than their understandings. "The fool hath said in his heart, "No God: they are corrupt, they have done abo"minable works." They wish that there were no God to control or punish them; they hope, and try to believe, that there is none; this induces them to search for objections and sophistical arguments against the truth; and thus, through Satan's delusions, and in the righteous judgment of God, they become converts to atheism, or to a scepticism bordering upon it; and then to elude conviction, and to keep themselves in countenance, they commence apostles of their impious opinions. But, in reality, the existence of the creation, or indeed of any creature, is a sufficient proof that there is a God who made all things; as the most acute reasoners have shewn, especially the celebrated Mr. Locke: and he, that lives, moves, thinks, and acts,
Psal. xiv. 1.
must be left without excuse, if he deny or forget God, or refuse to honour him, and be thankful to him. Reason and common sense confirm this verdict of inspiration: so that the man who withstands the evidence of this argument, is not likely to be convinced by rational deductions; and will probably continue an infidel, till convinced of his fatal mistake, by experiencing the indignation of that God whom he hath denied.
The unity of the Godhead is also allowed to be equally the doctrine of reason and of revelation, being inseparable from our ideas of infinite perfection. But we have the less occasion to labour this point at present, because they who profess to believe that there is a God, and yet speculatively or practically deny his rights, are in general strenuous advocates for the divine unity; and often contend for it as the doctrine of reason, in opposition to those mysteries which have long been deemed an essential part of revelation.
But, among those who, in words, at least, thus far assent to our principles, there are great numbers who seem to exclude the Creator from the government of the world, and from any right to the obedience or worship of mankind. Some speak ambiguously about creation, and try to account for every thing by the operation of second causes, instead of resolving the whole into the omnipotent Fiat of the great first Cause. Others argue as if God had constituted the universe at first in such perfection, that the laws of nature alone were sufficient to preserve its regular order without his immediate interposition. They seem to think that it would be dishonourable to God, to exert omni
potence continually for the preservation of his own work; or that it is incompatible with his dignity and felicity thus to interpose in all the concerns of his creatures. Thus they confound the idea of absolute perfection, the incommunicable attribute of God, with that of relative perfection as bestowed by him on his creatures; and, by false notions of dignity and happiness, they represent the Creator as finite and imperfect, while they deify his works as independent and self-sufficient!
Such sophistry, however, is well calculated to lead men from thinking of their obligations and accountableness to the Creator, and to pacify their consciences in neglecting his worship and service, and in manifesting, in their whole conduct, that they contemptuously disregard his authority, his favour, and his indignation. Indeed they who inwardly hate religion may often find it convenient to allow the existence of God, in order to escape reproach and elude conviction; while they live as if there were no God.
But, if the mind were unbiassed by corrupt passions and prejudices, it would appear that there is no rational ground for a moment's hesitation, in respect of the scriptural doctrine that the great Creator upholds all things by his omnipotence, manages them in his wisdom and goodness, and governs them in justice, truth, and holiness; that "not a sparrow falls to the ground without Him;" that "even the hairs of our head are all numbered;" and that all second causes derive their origin, permanency, and efficacy from him alone.
The deviations from the ordinary course of nature, in those miraculous events which have been