« PoprzedniaDalej »
winter; the silk-worm in providing cloathing for man, and in being transformed into various shapes, and many others of smalier sort of creatures, that act in a wonderful way, without the exercise of reason or design, these all prove the being of God.
3. The greater, fiercer, or more formidable sort of living creatures, as the lion, tiger, and other beasts of prey, are so ordered, that they fly from man, whom they could easily devour, and avoid those cities and places where men inhabit, that so we may dwell safely. They are not chased into the woods by us; but these are allotted, as the places of their residence by the God of nature.
4. Those living creatures that are most useful to men, and so subject to them, viz. the horse, camel, and many others, these know not their own strength, or power, to resist or rebel against them ; which is ordered by infinite wisdomn: and there are many other instances of the like nature, all which are very strong arguments to prove that there is a God, whose glory shines forth in all his works.
II. From the structure of human bodies, in which respect we are said to be fearfully and wonderfully made; this, if it be abstractedly considered without regard to the fixed course and laws of nature, exceeds the power and skill of all creatures, and can be no other than the workmanship of a God, and therefore is a demonstration of his being and perfections. No man ever pretended to give a specimen of his skill therein. The finest statuaries or limners, who have imitated or given a picture, or representation of human bodies, have not pretended to give life or motion to them ; herein their skill is baffled. The wisest men in the world have confessed their ignorance of the way and manner of the formation of human bodies ; how they are framed in their first rudiments, preserved and grow to perfection in the womb, and how they are increased, nourished, and continued in their health, strength, and vigour for many years. This has made the inquiries of the most thoughtful men issue in admiration : herein we plainly see the power and wisdom of God, to which alone it is owing.
Here it may be observed, that there are several things very wonderful in the structure of human bodies, which farther evince this truth. As,
1. The organs of sense and speech.
2. The circulation of the blood, and the natural heat which is preserved for many years together, of which there is no instance but in living creatures. Even fire will consume and waste itself by degrees, and all things, which have only acquired heat, will soon grow cold; but the natural heat of the body of man is preserved in it as long as life is continued. VOL. I.
3. The continual supply of animal spirits, and their subserviency to sense and motion. (h)
4. The nerves, which, though small as threads, remain unbroken, though every one of these small fibres performs its office, and tends to convey strength and motion to the body.
5. The situation of the parts in their most proper place : the internal parts, which would be ruined and destroyed if exposed to the injuries that the external ones are: these are secured in proper inclosures, and so preserved, Job x. 11. Thou hast eloathed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sinews.
6. All the parts of the body are so disposed, that they are fitted for their respective uses, as being situate in those places which render them most fit to perforın their proper actions.
7. The differing features of different bodies, so that we scarce see persons in all respects alike, is wonderful, and the result of divine wisdom : for even this is necessary for society, and our performing the duties we owe to one another.
8. The union of this body with the soul, which is a spirit of a very different nature, can never be sufficiently admired or accounted for; but gives us occasion herein to own a superior, infinitely wise being. Which leads us,
III. To consider how the being of God may be evinced from the nature of the soul of man. He is said, Zech. xii. 1. To have formed the spirit of man within him. And hereby his power and wisdom, and consequently his being, is declared. For,
1. The nature of a spiritual substance is much less known than that of bodies; and therefore that which we cannot fully understand, we must admire.
If the wisdom and power of God is visible in the structure of our bodies, it much more so in the formation of our souls; and since we cannot fully describe what they are, and know little of them but by their effects, certainly we could not form them;
and therefore there is a God, who is the Father of spirits. 2. The powers and capacities of the soul are various, and very extensive.
(1.) It can frame ideas of things superior to its own nature, and can employ itself in contemplating and beholding the order, beauty, and connexion of all those things in the world, which are, as it were, a book, in which we may read the divine perfections, and improve them to the best purposes.
(2.) It takes in the vast compass of things past, which it can reflect on and remember, with satisfaction, or regret: and it can look forward to things to come, which it can expect, and accordingly conceive pleasure or uneasiness in the forethoughts thereof.
() The theory of a nervous fuid, or animal spirits, is generally abandoned.
(3.) It can chuse or embrace what is good, or fly from and reject what is evil and hurtful to it.
(4.) It is capable of moral government, of conducting itself according to the principles of reason, and certain rules enjoined it for the attaining the highest end.
(5.) It is capable of religion, and so can argue that there is a God, and give him the glory that is due to his name, and be happy in the enjoyment of him.
(6.) It is immortal, and therefore cannot be destroyed by any creature ; for none but God has an absolute sovereignty over the spirits of men ; No man hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit ; neither hath he power in the day of death, Eccles. viii. 8.
IV. From the nature and office of conscience, which is that whereby the soul takes a view of itself, and its own actions, as good or evil; and considers itself as under a law to a superior being, from whom it expects rewards or punishments; and this evidently proves a God. Por,
1. Conscience is oftentimes distressed or comforted by its reflection on those actions, which no man on earth can know : and therefore when it fears punishment for those crimes, which come not under the cognizance of human laws, the uneasiness that it finds in itself, and its dread of punishment, plainly discovers that it is apprehensive of a divine being, who has been offended, whose wrath and resentment it fears. All the endeavours that men can use to bribe, blind, or stupify their consciences, will not prevent these fears; but the sad apprehension of deserved punishment, from one whom they conceive to know all things, even the most secret crimes committed, this makes persons uneasy, whether they will or no. Whithersoever they Ay, or what amusement soever they betake themselves to, conscience will still follow them with its accusations and dread of divine wrath : The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, Isa. lvii. 20. A dreadful sound is in his ears ; in prosperity the destroyer shall come upon him, Job xv. 21. Terrors take hold of him as waters, a tempest stealeth him away in the night. The east-wind carrieth him away, and he departeth ; and as a storm hurleth him out of his place. For God shall cast upon him, and not spare ; he would fain flee out of his hand, Job xxvii. 20, 21, 22. The wicked fee when no man pursueth, Prov. xxviii. 1.
And this is universal, there are none but are, some time or other, liable to these fears, arising from self-reflection, and the dictates of conscience ; the most advanced circumstances in the world will not fortify against, or deliver from them, Acts xxiv. 25. As Paul reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled. Even Pharaoh himself, the most hard-hearted sinner in the world, who would fain have forced a belief upon himself that there is no God, and boldly said, Who is the Lord, that I should obey him ? yet he could not ward off the conviction that there is a God, which his own conscience suggested. Therefore he was forced to say, Exod. ix. 27. I have sinned this time; the Lord is righteous, und I and my people are wicked. And indeed all the pleasures that any can take in the world, who give themselves up to the most luxurious way of living, cannot prevent their trembling, when conscience suggests some things terrible to them for their sins. Thus Belshazzar, when in the midst of his jollity and drinking wine, having made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, when he saw the finger of a man's hand upon the wall, it is said, Dan. V. 6. The king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him; so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.
Thus concerning those dictates of conscience, which make men very uneasy, whereby wicked men are forced to own that. there is a God, whether they will or no; we now proceed to consider good men, as having frequently such serenity of mind and peace of conscience, as affords them farther matter of conviction concerning this truth. It is, indeed, a privilege that they enjoy, who have the light of scripture revelation, and so it might have been considered under a following head; but since it is opposed to what was but now brought, as a proof of the being of a God, we may here observe, that some have that composure of mind, in believing and walking closcly with God, as tends to confirm them yet more in this truth. For,
(1.) This composure of mind abides under all the troubles and disappointments they meet with in the world: those things which tend to disturb the peace of other men, do not so much affect them; He shall not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord, Psal. cxii. 7.
And as this peace abides under all the troubles of life, so it does not leave them, but is sometimes more abundant, when they draw nigh to death.
(2.) It is a regular and orderly peace that they have, accompanied with grace, so that conscience is most quiet when the soul is most holy; which shews that there is a hand of God in working or speaking this peace, as designing thereby to encourage and own that grace which he has wrought in them; Rom. X. 13. thus the God of hope is said to fill us with all joy and peace in believing.
(3.) Let them labour never so much after it, they can never attain this peace, without a divine intimation, or God's speaking peace to their souls ; therefore when he is pleased, for wise ends, to withdraw from them, they are destitute of it; so that God is hereby known by his works, or by those influences of his grace, whereby he gives peace to conscience.
V. The being of a God appears from those vast and boundless desires, which are implanted in the soul; so that it can take up its rest, and meet with full satisfaction, in nothing short of a being of infinite perfection: therefore there is such an one, which is God. This will farther appear if we consider,
1. We find, by experience, that though the soul, at present, be entertained, and meets with some satisfaction in creatureenjoyments, yet it still craves and desires more, of what kind soever they be; and the reason is, because they are not commensurate to its desires; The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear with hearing, Eccles. i. 8. That which is wanting cannot be numbered, ver. 15.
2. We cannot rationally suppose that such boundless desires should be implanted in the soul, and yet that there should be nothing sufficient to satisfy them; for then the most excellent creature in this lower world would be, in some respects, more miserable than other creatures of a lower order, which obtain their ultimate desire. Thus the Psalmist, speaking of the brute creatures, says, Psal. civ. 28. They are filled with good; that is, they have all that they crave. Therefore,
3. There must be one that is infinitely good, who can satisfy these desires, considered in their utmost extent; and that is God, the fountain of all blessedness.
VI. The being of a God may be farther evinced, from the consent of all nations to this truth. Now that which all mankind agrees in, must be founded in the nature of man, and that which is so, is evident from the light of nature. there are many who have thus known God, who have not worshipped and glorified him as God; but have been vain in their imaginations, and have changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, as the apostle says, Rom. i. 21, 25. But it doth not follow from hence, that the heathen, who were guilty of idolatry, had no notion of a God in general, but rather the contrary ; that there is something in the nature of man, which suggests, that they ought to worship some divine being, whom they could not, by the light of nature, sufficiently know, and therefore they did service to those who were by nature no gods; however, this proves that they were not wholly destitute of some ideas of a God, which therefore are common to all mankind. Now that all nations have had some discerning that there is a God, appears,
1. From the credit that is to be given to all ancient history; which sufficiently discovers that men, in all ages, have owned and worshipped something that they called a God, though they knew not the true God.
2. The heathen themselves, as may easily be understood
It is true,