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“is so natural to man, that we find it adopted by the most ignorant nations, as well as the most enlightened ; by the child as well as the man of
Ask any plain man whom you meet, why he believes there is a God; and he will tell you, that he sees him in the clouds, and he hears him in the wind. All men believe the things around them to be effects, or works, and all believe them to be the works of God; of a being whose understanding and power transcend all limits. Nor has any man ever doubted the soundness of this conclusion, but under the influence of a wish, that it might not be true, nor without a laborious effort to convince himself that it was an error. So true is it, that the fool, and the fool only, hath said in his heart, “There is no God.'"
In Crantz's History of Greenland, we have a beautiful and striking illustration of the truth of the foregoing remarks, in the case of a Greenlander, who, after his conversion to Christianity, remarked to a Missionary ; “It is true we were ignorant, and knew nothing of a God or a Saviour, until you came amongst us.
But you must not suppose that a Greenlander never thinks about these things. I myself have often thought, that a boat with all its tackle, and implements, does not come into existence of itself, but must be made by the labour and ingenuity
of man ; and a man that does not understand it would directly spoil it. Now the meanest bird has far more skill displayed in its formation than the best boat; and no man can make a bird; but there is still far greater skill shewn in the formation of a man than of any other creature. Who was it that made man? I bethought me that he proceeded from his parents, and they from their parents; but some must have been the first parents; where did they come from? Common report tells me that they grew out of the earth ; but if so, why does it not happen that men grow out of the earth now ? and whence did this same earth itself, and the sea, the sun, the moon, and the stars arise into existence ? Certainly there must be some Being who made all these things; a Being who always was, and can never cease to be. He must be inexpressibly more knowing, mighty, and wise, than the
He must be very good, too; because every thing which he has made is good, useful, and necessary for us.”
Now, this was very just reasoning—the reasoning of a man unbiassed by system and sophistry ; and it is the common mode of reasoning adopted by all mankind when placed in the same circumstances.
The conclusion then, at which we have arrived is this ;—that the existence of a God may be
proved by a process of reasoning, and is demonstrative in that respect; yet the idea of a God formed in the mind of man, is rather the result of an instinctive feeling, -an inner consciousness which harmonizes with the system of nature around him. Thus a God is distinctly recognized. This recognition of a God seems to be a feeling rather than a belief, an intuition rather than a demonstrative conviction. The belief in the existence of a God is therefore inevitable. Here then we rest. The existence of a God is bound in our own existence and that of external nature. We need no arguments to prove it, and scepticism cannot remove our conviction. We may be said, therefore, to have an intuitive knowledge of the existence of a God.
THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD.
Chain'd to God's throne a volume lies
With all the fates of men,
Drawn by th' eternal pen.
And makes his counsels shine ;
By the Providence of God we understand the superintendence, care, and control of the Almighty over the world which he has made ;—His presence and influence in the concerns of men ;neutralizing and overruling whatever is evil, upholding and carrying on to perfection whatever is good. It seems very evident, that if God has created the world and all that is in it, he cannot be an indifferent spectator of its concerns. His goodness must as certainly incline him to manage and direct the affairs of the world, as his wisdom and
power must enable him to do it in the most effectual manner possible. A God without a providence implies a contradiction.
The agency of God, however, is seldom direct. “He commonly,” says Jay, “works otherwise. Even in things purely spiritual, and where the result is so manifestly his own, he uses means to produce it. Paul plants and Apollos waters, though He giveth the increase, and worketh all in all. And thus it is in temporal things ; instruments are employed: but instrumentality supposes and requires agency-and requires it, whatever ability or adaptation it possesses :-for however keen the sword, or excellent the pen, the one cannot wound or the other write, without a hand to use it. All events and all creatures depend upon God; and they can neither bless nor injure us, but as he permits, employs, succeeds them. Hence, too, his interposition is not visible. He really does all, but seems to do nothing. His agency, though obvious enough in its results, is imperceptible in its working. Thus it is with the wind; we cannot see it pass, but we can see its passage, and trace the direction of its progress in its effects. “Lo, he goeth