« PreviousContinue »
A Gospel Hope.
purifieth himself, even as he is pure. . . . 439
Growth in Grare.
of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. . . . 450
The perseverance of the Saints proved.
nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things present,
THE EXISTENCE OF GOD DEMONSTRATED.
Romans, 1. 20. For the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world
are clearly seen, being understood from the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.
ALL nature declares there is a God. If any thing which is seen, felt, or understood exists, then there exists a first cause, and that cause is God. If we are sure that we ourselves are, and that we see, hear and understand, it is equally certain to the niost perfect demonstration, that God exists. ' If we and all around us are non-entities, and there is nothing in the universe, then it will be granted, that there is no God. Persons who are under such derangement of mind, as to argue that they themselves are nothing, that they have no such thing as are called senses, that there is no feeling, seeing, smelling or tasting, that this world, and all its inhabitants, furniture, order, and beauty are nothing, no man, unless equally deranged, would enter into reasoning or argument with such. Where nothing is, the attempt to originate an argument, must be both foolish, and contradictory,
A leading doctrine of Saint Paul, in tliis" epistle to the Rö. mans, was, to prove the absolute necessity of the justification of sinners before God, by the atonement of a Mediator, or by the righteousness of Jesus Christ alone.' And as a master reasoner, he demonstrates every proposition advanced, as he pascos along, that his doctrine might come home to the judgment and consciente of every one, with the most perfect certainty, and highest conviction of its truth. Hence he first proves that all, Jew and Gentile, were sinners, under the wrath of God, and liable to be pune ished with everlasting destruction. He opens and produces his proofs in the first place against the Gentile world, and afterwards against the Jew, and undeniably establishes this melancholy and awful truth, “ There is none righteous, no not one."* In respect to the Gentiles, he declares, “ The wrath of God is revealed “ from heaven, against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of
men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” The particular instance here assumed, in order to convict them of ungodli. ness and unrigliteousness, is, that they stified, suppressed, and counteracted those notions of right and wrong, and that knowledge of God which they had. “They held the truth in unrightcousness,” that isy: they wickedly and wilfully acted contrary to phat they knew to be just, reasonable, and proper with regard to God. To support the charge of acting contrary to the know. ledge they had of God, it was nécessary to prove they had some knowledge of him; hence he' declares, “That which may be “known of God is, manifest in them ; for God hath showed it
unto them.” The existence and some of the perfections of God were displayed among them, for he had given abundant and clear evidence hereof; he had shewed it unto them in every thing they beheld, in all the works of creation. ; In the words of the text, the Apostle proceeds particularly to 'state that knowledge which was attainable, and which they had from this source; to wit. the knowledge of his being, and supreme and eternal power : « For the invisible things of him from the “creation of the world are clearly soen, being understood by the " things that are made, even his eternal power and godhead, so " that they are withoutexcuse.” The plain sense of these words,
and the evident design of the Apostle is, to establish this truth, ;" That the existence of God,"and some of his perfections, may
* Rom. ii. 10.--Verse 18.Verse 19.
be learned or deduced, with the highest certainty, from the works of creation.
What is intended at present, is a brief and rational demonstra tion of the being of God, after the manner of arguing his existence here proposed by the Apostle, to wit. from his works. : . By the name God, is meant an eternal, uincaused, independent, necessary, active, infirtitely powerful, and intelligent Being. . This description is sufficient for my present purpose. If the existence of such a Being be proved, the existence of God is proved. For such an 'existence is God, in all rational enquiries after or respecting the reality of his Being.
There are various topics or heads of argument, from whence this truth may be solidly evinced, but I mean to pursue one simple chain of reasoning founded on an undeniable fact, which cannot be controverted or contradicted by the greatest sceptic: “ In this way, I suppose the existence of the Being described, is capable of strict and perfect demonstration. And this is the way in which the Apostle proceeds in our text-For he makes it manifest, that the Gentiles, who were destitute of a divine revelation, were, or at least might be assured of the existence of God, from the works. of creation ; but if the works of creation, or the things clearly seen, would not afford undeniable and satisfying evidence to the mind of this truth without revelation, there could be no assurance of the divine existence and power-and, consequently, the heathens would have a just excuse for their atleisin and wickedness; whereas the Apostle argues, that they are without excuse.
That such a Being does exist, which we signify by the term God, is now to be proved. And that all may understand and have .conviction hereof, I shall proceed, by the most easy and gradual steps, laying the foundation of the reasoning in the most plain, obvious, and incontestille facts and principles. Wherefore observe,
First, That something does now exist, cr that some external
objects, and obvious to our senses, now are. Nothing can be more evident or certain than this. This it a fact, of which every person is perfectly assured. We are as sure of this, as that we have senses or understanding. No one doubts of the existence of the things without hiin, and around him. No one doubts that the world in which he lives, is something. Every one is assured, that it is replenished with inhabitants, and those he daily converses with, are real existences. At least, every one is convinced of his own existence. Every one is sure that he himself is. If he he not sure of this, he can be sure of nothing. There can be no such thing as assurance, or evidence of any fact. In a word, the present existence of something, of this world, and of ourselves is so clear, as not to permit us to reason upon it, in order to make it clearer. One who denies this, cannot be reasoned with at all about any thing whatsoever. Because it is one of the first and most evident of all truths. It is so evident, that it can admit of no additional evidence. It is a self evident and notorious fact. A man cannot open his eyes, nay, he cannot think one thought, or speak one word, but he must receive irresistible conviction, that something now is, or does exist. Therefore, I observe,
Secondly, No being or thing, which, now exists, could make itself, or come into being of itself. Consider the terms in which this proposition is expressed, and every one must immediately be convinced of its truth. Is it not impossible that any thing should make itself, or give being to itself, when as yet it was a nonentity, or nothing ? Is it not self evident, that which is nothing, can neither act nor do any thing ? Now for a thing to make itself, or come into existence of itself, is certainly to do something ; therefore, it must be, and not be, that it must be something and nothing, act and not act, at the same time. In order to make itself, it must be for surely what is not, cannot do any thing ; and yet it must not be or exist–for if it already exists, it cannot now begin to be, or come into existence; because that which already has obtained existence, cannot have existence