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Thus understood they teach us, that there is a harmony and consistency in all God's works, and one thing is adapted to another throughout the whole system of nature. Hence we conclude with certainty, that there is a God, who made and governs the universe.
When we attempt to prove God's existence from his works, the atheist will say, “ The material world may have existed from eternity and without a creator to bring it into being." But how will he account for the design apparent in every thing which we are capable of examining?
No man who views a clock or watch, and sees how one wheel moves another, and all are moved by weights or springs, and the whole movement indigitates the hours of the day, and the minutes of the hour, can imagine, that this is a casual work, the result of chance; that it came into existence without an artificer, or was formed and put in motion without design. Less can we imagine, that the infinitely greater and more complicated works of nature existed of themselves, and continue their existence without a creating and sustaining hand.
Every thing which we examine, appears to be adapted to some end, and to be made with a design to accomplish that end. It must therefore be made by an intelligent, wise and designing power.
If we look up to the heavens, we behold numerous bodies moving with order and harmony, and without confusion or interference. These, we know, must have been adjusted at first, and be still guided by an infinitely wise and powerful Being. We perceive the influence of the sun diffusing light and heat through the world in which we dwell. We enjoy the bounty of the clouds in shedding rain on our fields and pastures, to render them productive of the fruits necessary for our support. We see innumerable tribes of animals, whose wants are supplied by the spontaneous productions of the earth; and these brought into existence in such places and seasons as afford them their necessary food. If we examine a human body—the body of an animal, an insect, or a plant, we find it consisting of various parts, all connected with, and subservient to one another, and adapted to its nurture, growth and perfection. There is wisdom-there is design every where
apparent, and the existence of a Deity is every where manifest. “ The invisible things of God from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things which are made, even his eternal power and godhead." Fools are they and without excuse, who say, there is no God, or who glorify him not as God.
, The argument for the existence of a Deity, taken from the design apparent in the works of nature, is conclusive. None can reject it, unless he can believe, that works of art may exist without an artificer. “ Every house is builded by some man; and he who built all things is God."
The same argument, taken from the adaptation of one thing to another, proves the divinity of the scripture revelation. If the manifest design in the works of nature demonstrates that there is a God; the design, which is equally apparent and wonderful in the gospel plan, demonstrates that this must be from God.
Let us consider what beings we are, and what the gospel scheme is; and we shall see such complete provision for all our spiritual wants, as must convince us that it was from heaven; and could not be of men.
We are intelligent creatures, and must be accountable to the Being who made us. God, as a being of wisdom, justice, holiness and goodness, must be supposed to exercise a moral government over his rational subjects. It must then be his will, that we love, fear and trust him, and that we be just, faithful and benevolent to one another in all the relations of life.
Every man must confess, that he has deviated from God's good and perfect will, and consequently deserves punishment. He who pretends that he deserves no punishment, must say, either that he is perfect, or that God is imperfect; either that he has never done, intended, or thought any thing which is morally wrong, or that God is not a moral governor, and has no right to demand obedience or punish disobedience.
This then is our state; we are under moral obligations, are accountable to our Creator, have opposed his will, and fallen under guilt and condemnation. What now are our wants ? We need to know whether we shall exist after death; whether we shall exist merely as spirits, or in material bodies; whether our sins can
be forgiven ; whether on any terms, and, if on any, on what terms we can be admitted to future happiness; how mercy can be exercised toward us without injury to the divine character and government; whether we can hope for divine concurrence in our endeavors to mend our hearts and reform our lives; whether we can expect defence against the temptations which attend us, and rely on divine keeping amidst the dangers which surround us.
To relieve and satisfy our minds in these perplexities, human wisdom is utterly insufficient. We cannot do it for ourselves, nor is there a friend who can do it for us. Here is an end of all human perfection. But God's law, his revelation, is exceeding broad. This teaches all that we need to know relative to those enquiries. It gives us all things which pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of him, who has called us to glory and virtue.
The foundation of the gospel scheme is the mission of a divine Saviour, who has assumed our nature, dwelt on earth, taught the will of God in relation to our fallen race, exemplified in his life the virtues required of us, offered himself a sacrifice to expiate our guilt and open a way for the exercise of God's forgiving mercy; has risen from the dead, ascended to glory, and ever lives to make intercession for us. By his gospel, life and immortality are brought to light, and the resurrection of the body is expressly declared and promised. These great doctrines are confirmed by his resurrection from the grave and visible ascension into heaven.
The terms of pardon and felicity are clearly stated; and the fullest assurance is given, that through the sacrifice of this Redeemer, ev ery sincere penitent will be received to favour and admitted to happiness, as freely as if he had not offended. In compassion to human weakness and impotence, the grace of the divine Spirit is offered for the renovation of the heart, and for the assistance of our feeble essays in the duties of religion; and this grace is to be obtained by our humble resort to the throne of God.
Here then we find a scheme perfectly adapted to our necessities. Here is light to dispel our darkness, and instruction to remove our doubts and correct our errors, in the great things which it most concerns us to know and rightly to understand. Here is mercy to pardon our guilt, grace for the most unworthy and help
for the most impotent. Here are invitations to encourage our desponding hearts, and promises to confirm our wavering hopes.
Say now; is there any thing wanting, which the gospel does not supply ? Could the sagacity of man—could the wisdom of angels have invented a scheme, so completely suited to our condition ? Could any thing like it have once entered into a creature's mind without divine suggestion ?-We have the same reason to believe the gospel scheme was framed in heaven, as we have to believe the worlds were framed by the wisdom and power of God.
Our Saviour has often affirmed, that they who believe not him, believe not the Father—that they who deny him, deny the Father—that they who will not receive his religion when it is proposed to them, reject all religion. The reason is obvious. Faith in the gospel stands on the same foundation, as faith in the exis tence and government of a Deity.
St. John says, “He that believeth hath the witness in himself.” He sees such an adaptation of the gospel scheme to the necessities of his own condition, as fully convinces him, that this scheme came not from man, but from the wisdom and goodness of God. If any reject the gospel, it is because there is in them an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the true God.' They know not themselves, see not their guilt, feel not their impotence, and therefore, despise the provisions of divine grace.
Solomon, having asserted a general truth, which is obvious to every considerate man, that God has fitted and disposed every thing to its proper end, adds, as a natural conclusion, " that the wicked are doomed to the day of evil.” He does not say, that God has made them wicked, or that he has made them for the day of evil. The word, made, is not repeated in this part of the sentence, nor is it here to be understood. But the whole, in its cennection, naturally conveys this sentiment; “God hath made every thing to its proper end, and therefore the wicked are for day of evil.” It is agreeable to the constitution of God's government, which is uniform and consistent, that wicked men should suffer evil. As there is a natural connection between sin and misery, a life devoted to sin till its end, must terminate in misery.
To suppose that a man, living in wickedness and dying in inpenitence, should be happy in a future world, would contradict the manifest plan of God's government, in which every thing has its proper end. It was the immutable design of the Creator, when he placed man upon earth, that his state in another world should be correspondent to his moral conduct in this—that righteousness should tend to life, and the pursuit of wickedness tend to death. The apostle says, “ Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he reap. He that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption, and he that soweth to the spirit, shall of the spirit reap life everlasting.” The moral government of God is analogous to his natural government. As in the natural world a man reaps fruit of the same kind with the seed which he has sown; so, in the moral world, every one will receive according to the works which he has done. Misery is as really the fruit of vice reigning in the heart, as tares are the produce of tares sown in the field. A man may as rationally expect to reap barley from cockle, as reap happiness from vice. To him that soweth righteousness, shall be a sure reward; but he that soweth the wind, shall reap the whirlwind.
It is said of Judas, who fell by his own transgression," he went to his place”_his proper place—the place for which he was fitted and disposed by his wicked life and guilty end. What place could that be? He had been a thief-a hypocrite-a traitor—a selfmurderer. He had lived in wickedness; and he died by his own hands. His place, then, could be no other than a place of misery. No other could be called his proper place. For no other had his guilty life and death prepared and disposed him. To the unrighteous, in the last day, the Judge will say, “De
, part, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” The place prepared for the punishment of these revolting spirits was suited to their atrocious crimes and malignant natures. And men, who, like them, revolt from God and retain their enmity to him, are prepared for the same place.
The apostle says, “God endures with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction." The destruction of impenitent sinners is an event, for which they are fitted by the inveterate corruption of their hearts, and obstinate wickedạess of