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fallacious arguments, which, however, are more the pleas of their wishes, than the verdicts of their conviction, to persuade themselves that there is no such Being ; but in their hearts they must feel, in their consciences they must acknowledge, his existence and his power.
A positive Atheist, one, not who asserts (for many men assert things which they do not in reality believe,) but who is fully convinced in his own mind, that there is no superior Power, is, I trust,
no where to be found. Where there is '. Reason, there must be an intimation of
Deity ; Reason being, in fact, an impress of God on the mind of man. practical Atheist, one, not who indeed rejects the idea of a God, but who neither thinks of him, nor concerns himself at all about him, and who lives totally separated from him both in heart and conduct, is, it is to be feared, no uncommon character. It is, however, a character so unnatural, so indicative of a perverted understanding and a hardened heart, that it invariably receives the contempt and reprobation of the more righteous part
of mankind. Against positive Atheism, therefore, I am persuaded, I need not caution you. But against practical Atheism, against leading a life, as if there were no God, while you coldly admit that there is one, I see a cogent necessity for putting you upon your guard; because, while it is difficult to make the mind reject a truth implanted in our very nature, it is easy for sin to overrule the arguments of reason, and cause the heart to abhor the. faith, which the understanding cannot but acknowledge.
Believe, therefore, in God, that*“ before the mountains were brought forth, or ever the world and the earth were made, he was God from everlasting, world without end." This is the first principle of religion, the foundation
which all other religious truths are to be built. When you have firmly rooted this faith in your minds, which must be, not a cold vapid acknowledgment, a mere verbal assent, but a full, decided, immoveable conviction, then you will advance to the
* Psalm xc. 2.
consideration and belief of other doctrines depending upon, and inseparable from it.
Admitting the External Existence of a God, you necessarily proceed to acknowledge him as the Author of all Creation. As the world is nothing but mere matter, which has in it no principle of motion or activity, it could not have created itself; and as matter could not have existed from all eternity, it must have been created by some Pre-existing Cause. Hence we conclude, that God, having alone been from everlasting, must have made all matter, and consequently the world. He was that Pre-existing Cause, *“who spake, and it was done, who commanded, and it stood fast."
Considering him as the Creator of the world, as the Prime Cause of all existence, it necessarily follows, that we must allow him to be possessed of Infinite Power. For can that Power be less than infinite, by which so beautiful, so various, so stupendous a creation arose, and arose too out of nothing? Can that Power be less than infinite, which by a multiplicity of co-operating instruments moves, directs, and sustains so harmonious a system of animate and inanimate being, and whose operations embrace an extent, of which the world we inhabit, and the worlds we indistinctly contemplate, occupy but a small proportion? The hand, that made all things in Heaven and in earth, that gave angels their peculiar properties and . their spiritual being, that endowed man with intellectual energies and corporeal capacities, that formed a chain of
* Psalm xxxiii. 9.
systems separately existing, but no doubt intimately connected, in the immensity of space, and that in every work produced a miracle, cannot be less than Omnipotent. The great Creator is, as he assured Abraham and Jacob, *“ the Almighty God.” to “ He alone is clothed with majesty and strength.” He alone is able to save, as he declared, when out of the whirlwind he questioned Job; “ Hast
* Gen. xvii. l.
+ Psalm xciii, 1.
thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him?" He is, as he has informed us by his servant John, *" Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, which is, and which was,
and which is to come, the Almighty.”
The next step is, to believe that the Eternal and Almighty Creator of the world, governs and preserves by his wisdom and goodness every thing that he has made. After having contemplated, as far as our limited capacities will permit, the whole system of creation, from the most minute and insignificant objects in nature to the most vast and sublime, its mysterious elements, its wonderful contrivances, its admirable order, the intimate connection and mutual dependence of all its parts, as so many links in one great chain, and the astonishing adaptation of means to the most wise, beneficial, and glorious ends, can you help exclaiming in the expansion and elevation of your hearts, +66
“O Lord, how manifold are thy works ! In wisdom hast thou made them all! The
* Rev. i. 8.
+ Psalm civ. 24.