« PoprzedniaDalej »
mon than we are apt to imagine, and intimated by the very idea of a rethat notwithstanding our supposed as
velation. It is, however, in my view, sent, there is the most urgent reason highly serviceable to contemplate those that we should have our faith in even arguments of natural religion, which the fundamental doctrines of religion corroborate the doctrines of the Scripenlivened and confirmed. Feeling, Itures, not, of course, because they hope, in some measure the importance can add to the authority of the deof this result to myself and to you, I clarations of the Bible, but being taken shall this evening endeavour to lay from appearances, presented daily to
the evidence for the omni. our view, they serve to facilitate a presence and omniscience of God in reception of them, and of those adas plain a manner as I can. And ditional doctrines which are taught while I attempt to convince the under in the Scriptures. standing, may the Holy Spirit engraft We proceed, therefore, to give the these truths deeply in our hearts in- argument for the divine omniscience clining the will and affections to be derived from natural religion. We governed by them.
assert, then, that the doctrine of the I would endeavour in the First omnipresence of God results from the place, to lay before you the argument truth universally acknowledged, that derived from natural religion-and the world owes its existence to a CreSecondly, the proofs from Scripture ator. Wherever we direct our view of the omniscience of the Deity. I we perceive marks of intelligence and shall conclude with an application of design. This is peculiarly evinced by the doctrine.
the construction of what are called In the first place I would endeavour organized substances, I mean such obto lay before you THE ARGUMENT FOR jects as demonstrate by their con
struction, that their different parts were of God which IS DERIVED FROM NA- put together in order to produce some TURAL RELIGION.-By natural religion, particular end; as, for instance, the you are aware, I mean that informa- parts of the eye are evidently so contion respecting the existence and at- structed, not only in relation to one tributes of the Almighty which is to another, but to the general result; be derived from the appearances of hence we say it was intended to be an nature. It is unquestionable that instrument of vision : so of the ear and much knowledge is to be derived from of the hand. Now the world in which this source. Nature and revelation
we live is one vast magazine of such are systems of which the Divine Being contrivances; and in respect of these, is equally the author. The book of consequently, the proof is most widely nature and the book of Divine inspi- diffused of the existence of the Creration were alike written by the finger ator. But this is true, not merely of of God; and the sentiments they organized forms, but even of matter in contain may be naturally expected its unorganized state. This appears to corroborate each other. It must, peculiarly in the wonderful proporat the same time, ever be kept in tioning of one thing to another, which mind, that while the Scriptures con- equally attests the existence of an intain a vast number of truths which telligent first cause. The satelites of confirm every doctrine of natural re- the planets are proportioned in their ligion, they also contain many others number to the size of the planets which which could never have been discovered they attend, and to their distances from by the light of nature, as indeed is the sun. The quantity of light given
THE OMNISCIENCE AND OMNIPRESENCE
by the sun to the earth is exactly pro- | upon the term, law of nature : apart portioned to the wants of the creatures from this agent the law does nothing which dwell upon it, and to the per- and is nothing. fection of its different productions. Wherefore, even upon the principle The quantity of the land and of the of such persons themselves, when prowater are properly proportioned to perly understood, the omniscience of each other, and their component parts God follows as a necessary consequence. again to the wants of the several crea- For if,
as must be acknowledged, tures which inhabit them. Naturalists every thing in the Universe is under also tell us that the elements of even the control of some one or more of the meanest atom of matter are equally these laws, it follows that in every proportioned to each other, so that point of the Universe, the Deity is consequently every thing in existence, acting; and where he acts, there he is, when examined, testifies that the in- and where he is, there he perceives. telligence of the Divine mind has at Oh, awful, but most evident truth. He one time or other been exerted to pro- the beauty of the stars, the purity of duce it. In every part of the universe fire, the subtlety of ether, the expanse accessible to our survey, we have of heaven-He is the capacity of the therefore the most resplendent proofs politician, the penetration of the phithat there the hand of God hath been ; losopher. We breathe his air and are consequently, at that period, at least, animated by his spirit. In Him I the Divine Being was omnipresent. I speak and you hear, in Him we live, make this limitation, because, to argue
and move, and have our being. He with correctness, it is required, that we should infer no more than the pre
Shines in the sun, refreshes in the breeze,
Glows in the stars and blossoms in the trees, mises laid down will allow. But now
Lives through all life, extends through all it is possible, for it may be conceived,
extent, that the Divine Creator, having made Spreads undivided, operates unspent." all things, and, consequently, having then been present every where, after- Having adduced the testimony of ward withdrew his immediate agency. natural religion to the omnipresence Some have supposed that they have of God, we proceed to lay before you even magnified the Divine power and THE PROOF FURNISHED BY THE SCRIPmajesty, when they conceived him ca- TURES. The testimony of the text will pable of making the whole Universe as be found clear and strong; upon perusone self-acting machine, not requiring ing the chapter whence it is taken you his continual intervention. This they find that Hagar, the handmaid of Sarah, suppose him to have effected by con- Abraham's wife, had incurred the stituting what they call the laws of displeasure of her mistress. It was nature, and to have committed the one of those domestic feuds which is course of nature to their direction. But so readily kindled, but which inflict a we would ask them, in the language of wound in the spirit that hardly ever can a celebrated writer, what they mean be healed. The desponding handmaid by the laws of nature ? A law supposes fled before the oppression of her misan agent, for it is only the mode by tress, and sought the desert. We read which that agent proceeds. It neces that she paused in her wanderings sarily involves the supposition of a beside a fountain, and while, perhaps, power, for it is merely the way in which suffering all the anguish of a spirit, that power acts. This is the only in supposing itself neglected by earth and telligible meaning which can be put heaven, the angel of the Lord ac
costed her, and, by his observations | they afford to the doctrine before us. and predictions, convinced her that he Amos, ix. 2, 3.—“ Though they dig had been present in all her afflictions, into hell, thence shall mine hand and was acquainted with all her cir- take them ; though they climb up to cumstances. The astonished and grate- heaven, thence will I bring them down; ful outcast gives vent in the text to and though they hide themselves in the the emotions so natural upon such a | top of Carmel, I will search and take discovery—“Thou, God, seest me.” them out from thence, and though
How awful are the words of Elihu, they be hid from my sight in the Job, xxxiv. 21, “ His eyes are upon bottom of the sea, thence will I comthe ways of man, and he seeth all his mand the serpent, and he shall bite goings; there is no darkness nor sha. them.” dow of death where the workers of Oh, striking and fearful representainiquity may hide themselves.” Totion of an attribute from which the the same effect the wise man speaks remotest caverns of ocean can afford in the 15th chapter of Proverbs and concealment. The next is the 8th verse, “The eyes of the Lord are well known passage in the 139th in every place beholding the evil and Psalm, first and following verses :the good.” They not only run to and “Oh Lord, thou hast searched me fro throughout the earth, a form of and known me; thou knowest my expression which might lead us to down sitting and my up rising ; thou imagine that God beholds things suc- understandest my thought afar off ; cessively by looking first at one thing, thou compassest my path and art ac. and then at another, but they are in quainted with all my ways. For there every place at the same time. Nor is is not a word in my tongue ; but lo, this attention confined to the ways oh Lord, thou knowest it altogether; of man, by which phrase we com- thou hast beset me behind and before, monly understand man's outward con- and hast laid thine hand upon me. duct. God looks immediately into Whither shall I go from thy spirit, the heart of man and sees the inward whither shall I flee from thy presence. state of the soul. See the 15th If I ascend up into heaven, thou art chapter of the book of Proverbs and there ; if I make my bed in hell, Ilth verse,
“ Hell and destruction are behold thou art there; if I take the before the Lord, how much more the wings of the morning and dwell in hearts of men.” Neither do the the uttermost parts of the sea, even Scriptures represent him as a mere there shall thy hand lead me, and thy spectator, but as a witness and judge right hand shall hold me. who scrutinizes the thoughts and ac- surely the darkness shall cover me, tions with all their circumstances, and even the night shall be light about makes a just and righteous estimation of him; yea, the darkness hideth not them. I know and I am witness, saith from thee, but the night shineth as the Lord. The Lord is a God of know- the day; the darkness and the light ledge, and by him actions are weighed. are both alike to thee. For thou hast “ All the actions of a man are right in possessed my reins, thou hast covered hisown eyes, but the Lord weigheth the me in my mother's womb. I will spirits.” Two other passages shall praise thee, for I am fearfully and close our series of proofs from Scrip- wonderfully made. My substance was ture, remarkable as well for the beauty not hid from thee when I was made in and grandeur of the conceptions they secret, and curiously wrought in the contain, as for the clear testimony lowest parts of the earth : thine eyes
If I say,
did see my substance being yet im- must remain ignorant in many matperfect, and in thy book all my mem- ters, whether those laws were violated bers were written, when as yet there or not. was none of them.” Such language The spirituality of the law itself is a needs no comment, nor can any ad- clear proof that the knowledge of the ditional passages augment its force. lawgiver must extend to the thoughts But we add, that not only do the of the heart, and that the character of Scriptures teach the omniscience and mankind, as it respects the most inomnipresence of God, but they even ward recesses of the bosom, must lie represent it as absurd to suppose the open to the Divine inspection quite as contrary.
much so as the most public actions of The Scriptures declare that God is human life. And further, which comthe Governor of the material and pletes this part of the evidence, we moral world; consequently, as it is find God actually judging men's hearts, necessary that the Creator and Go- and rewarding or punishing them ac.. vernor of the Universe should be in all cording to their secret dispositions. places of his dominion at the same Thus it is written of Amaziah (2 Chron. moment, in order that he may sustain xxv. 2.), “ He did that which was and guide the whole, so it is absolutely right in the sight of the Lord, but he necessary that he should have a per- did it not with a perfect heart. Davia fect knowledge of every thing, without is applauded for his good intention to which omnipotence and omnipresence build a house for the Lord, although were useless.
not permitted to execute his purpose. The Scriptures declare that God is “Thou didst well,” said God to him, the moral governor but the judge of all
"inasmuch as it was with thee in men; they represent him as having thine heart.” And Abijah, the son of given laws of the most spiritual cha- Jeroboam, is said to have obtained racter—that is to say, relating to the exemption from a violent death, and spirits of men in the most compre
to have procured the rites of sepulture hensive manner. They reach to every
for this express reason,
“ Because in part of our conduct, and not only di- him there was found some good thing rect the outward life, but give also towards the Lord God of Israel.” law to the most retired thought and
Thus have I endeavoured to establish inward affection. Thus we are told, your faith in the doctrine of the Divine Proverbs, xxiv. 9, “ That the thought omniscience. of foolishness is sin.”
It is possible that some one may ask, The tenth commandment also for. | why bestow so much time and labour bids us to covet, thus giving life to all in demonstrating a point which no one the former precepts, and teaching us, as
Let this be my our Saviour afterwards explained in apology. I cannot recollect the time the sermon on the Mount, that they when I seriously questioned the truth include the inward disposition as well of this doctrine ; but, oh! I can well as outward action; in short, the first remember the time and times when it conception of lust in the soul, as well has had no more effect upon my feel. as the birth of the sinful deed. But ings and practice than if I had been now it is impossible to suppose that sure it was false. And if your belief God, whose wisdom is perfect, would be of the same kind, as whose belief give laws to his creatures with the has not been, then be assured you have most awful penalties attached to the heard no more than is needful: nay, transgression of them, if, after all, he if an infinitely greater teacher, namely,
is inclined to doubt.
APPLICATION OF ITS SEVERAL USES.
the Holy Spirit, do not preach the whole progress of the mind, its plots same subject over to your hearts, your and contrivances, till the wicked deed present knowledge will only heighten be done—to behold the heart full of enyour guilt, and the fewer your doubts mity without one relenting thought, to the greater will be your condemna- spare a creature determined to affront tion. If your hearts do not feel the him, when, by one word, he could constant presence of God, your ver- disarm him of all his power and renbal acknowledgments and speculative der him completely miserable, are belief, shall only render your case qualities of God's long suffering, which worse than that of infidels.
Satan, place it out of the reach of human the grand enemy of your souls, can comprehension. God is not a man; spare this tribute to God which you his compassions fail not, therefore we pay. So long as your faith resides in are not consumed. Oh, let his patience the understanding and dwells in the and long suffering bring us to repenttongue, he will not endeavour to dis- ance; let us never more provoke his possess you of it: and if what you love or weary his mercy. have this night heard sink no deeper, Secondly. Let the subject of the Di. I shall readily confess that indeed you vine omniscience be a prevailing moknow and have heard too much. tive with us to honesty and sincerity. We I shall close the subject with AN are the seed of the serpent, and dissimu
lation and artifice seem to be our naFirst, Let us take occasion, from the sub- tural procedure. But the way to attain ject, to adore, with humble gratitude, to a godly simplicity and sincerity, and the long suffering, patience, and tender to banish all dissimulation from our compassion of our God. Is He the imme- hearts, is to set the Lord always bediate witness of our sins, not of those fore us, and to act under the influence which are committed merely in a day, of the great truth in the text, “ Thou, a week, a month, a year, but in our God, seest me.” He who can thus whole lives? Does He see the first realize the Divine presence, cannot, dark thought of lust or rage, and does dare not be a hypocrite. He knows he look on still and spare us till it be that his triumphing shall be short, and fully formed and executed ? How in- that his joy is only for a moment. comprehensible, then, must be His pa- Man he may deceive, whose eyes can tience. We find it no easy matter en- contemplate no further than the outtirely to forgive our fellow men even side; but he cannot deceive God, whose when they are penitent; we find it eyes are in every place, who knoweth sometimes almost more than we can the hearts and searcheth the reins of do to suppress our resentment, though the children of men. Oh, to what the injury has been committed at a purpose shall we labour to attain the great distance of time, and the offend- notice and applause of our dying feling brother was perhaps the first to low-creatures, to be exposed to the coninform us. How great is the Divine for- tempt and abhorrence of an Infinite bearance? It would be gracious in God Being on whom we depend for life, to forgive the transgressions of his crea- health, and all things here, and for tures, though he had not seen them happiness for ever. Especially, too, done, and knew nothing about them till when we consider that the mask, ere he had heard them from ourselves in long, will be taken away, and our real confessions and petitions for mercy; character will be exposed to the view but to bear with us till lust hatb con- of an assembled world in that day when ceived and brought forth—to see the the hidden works of darkness shall be