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fables. But can it, with any reason he supposed, that mere fables and fictions, uttered most arrogantly, in the name of the Lord, are the richest source of pure morality ? Certainly not. The most excellent tendency and effects of the scriptures, result only from their being a system of divinely inspired and holy truth. This is as evident, as that a system of novels and romances is pernicious in its tendency and effects, because it is the result of error, delusion and licentiousness, in principle.
Do any declaim against certain doctrines of the bible, as being of dangerous tendency ? Let them look well tó the effects of these doctrines. By their effects, shall their tendency be decided. Only discard the doctrine of divine decrees and election, and of total depravity and regeneration, and of atonement and redemption by the blood of Christ, and the foundation of all experimental and practical religion is undermined ; and nothing remains but a system of selfishness. The very doctrines, whose tendency is so much dreaded, are found, by their effects, to be the doctrines which are according to godliness. It is by the force of these solemn truths, applied by the spirit of God, to the consciences and the hearts of sinners, that they are converted, and saints edified. “ of his own will, begat
66 Of he us, with the word of truth.'
We have now attended to the principal arguments in proof of the divine inspiration of the holy scriptures; and it is. apprehended, that the evidence is abundant, and incontestable. We may therefore proceed in the discussion of the many remaining articles of the system of divine truth, relying with full confidence on these sacred oracles, both for illustration, and for legitimate proof. “ Thus saith the Lord,” shall, hereafter, be tantamount to a demonstration.
On this interesting subject, we may remark, 1. The infinite condescension and mercy of God, in giving us such an ample fund of light and instruction of which we are utterly unworthy! With perfect justice, might he have left us, and all mankind, to grope in darkness, delusion and wickedness; totally destitute of a gleam of light or hope. How infinitely different is our case from
what it would have been, had we never heard of a God, nor of a Savior, nor of the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier ! How should our souls magnify the Lord, and bless his holy name, for the gift of his word, which is a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our path!
2. How sinful and deplorable is the state of those who are determined never to believe in divine revelation; but to rely on their own wisdom and goodness for the hope of final happiness! As certainly as there is a Savior, and they
a continue to reject him, they must perish forever. _How fervently should christians pray for unbelievers! 6 Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”.
The perfections of God.
In the last essay, proof has been offered, of the di. vine inspiration of the holy scriptures. We may now proceed, by the light of scripture and reason, to an illustration and proof of THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD. for God, his way is perfect.” Equally perfect is his nature.
To exhibit a clear illustration and proof of the divine perfections ; a distinction will be made between those which are called natural, and those which are called moral perfections. The natural perfections of God, consist in his eternity, immutability, omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, invisibility and independence. Of all the moral perfections of God, holiness or goodness is the sum and substance. But his goodness consists in justice, mercy, spiritual wisdom, truth, and faithfulness.
In the arrangement which has been made of the natural perfections of God, the first to be considered, is his eternity. And that he is, in the strictest sense, eternal, absolutely without beginning or end, or any limitation, is evident from this consideration, that if it ever was the case, that he had no existence, it was impossible for him without an antecedent cause, to commence an existence. Absolute nonentity could never have caused any existence whatever. If God be
he is “ The eternal God.” In a manner, to us mysterious, God is self-existent, existing by a natural and eternal necessity. So that his non-existence is far more inconceivable than the nonexistence of the whole universe. He exists independently of any causation, or any extraneous power and agency whatever.
However difficult it may be for us to comprehend the idea of God's eternity, yet the evidence is conclusive ; and the scriptures declare, that “from everlasting to everlasting, he is God.” If any imagine, that God could not have existed happily, from all eternity, on account of his being, till the birth of the nal creation, in a state of eternal solitude; this difficulty is obviated, by considering, that “One day with the Lord is as a thousand years; and a thousand years as one day.” In his infinite mind, past, present and future are all alike. In his infinite mind, every object of delight and felicity, is eternally and invariably the same. His infinite happiness and glory are commensurate with his existence. “For, 6 All things are naked and open unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.”
Immutability is next in the order of the divine attributes. “ I am the Lord, I change not.” Immutability in God results from his necessary and eternal existence. The very idea of necessary existence, implies the impossibility of change or variation. For the ground of this necessity is always the same. Jesus Christ is said to be the same, yesterday, to-day and forever. Change implies a beginning of what is present, and a liability of its ending. Unless, therefore, 'God be immutable, there is no assurance of any thing ; no assurance of his own eternal existence. To be a ground of confidence, he must be without variableness or shadow of turning.
On the whole, it is evident, from scripture and reason, that God is absolutely unchangeable. His nature, his perfections, his purposes, his eternal counsels, and the great ends of all his operations, are invariably the same. “ He is in one mind, and none can turn him, and what his soul desireth, even that he doth."
Omnipotence is, in the order of divine attributes, the next which claims our attention.
By this we are to understand, all possible power. Some things are in their nature, impossible; and are therefore not the objects of power. To cause a thing to be, and at the same time, not to be, is absurd and impossible. Whatever is possible in the nature of things, is possible with God ; and in this sense only, “ With God all things are possible ;' and nothing is too hard for the Almighty.
To prove the omnipotence of God, we are to consider the magnitude and immensity of his works. The whole creation, visible and invisible, is the effect of his power. And “the things which are seen, were not made of things which do appear.” “ All things were, strictly speaking, made of nothing, by the word of his power." By his power, the very materials of the whole created system were brought into existence; and by his omnipotence, were they arranged in their beautiful order and harmony : so that “ The heavens declare the glory of the Lord and the firmament sheweth his handy work." Not only were all things made by him ; but “By him all things consist.” The preservation of the universe is as rich a display of infinite power, as its creation. It is God who supports and governs the universe. He it is 66 who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." 6 None can stay his hand, nor say unto him, what dost thou ?" 6 Is any thing too hard for the Almighty po
Omnipotence is a divine attribute, most abundantly declared and celebrated, in every part of the bible ; and, in its effects, it is realized by every candid observer.
We may observe further ; If God were not an omnipotent being, he must be infinitely unhappy. Instances
innumerable must continually occur, in which, for the want of power, he would be liable to be defeated in his purposes, and rendered infinitely miserable. If God can possess the least degree of felicity, if he can rejoice in all, or any of his works, he is certainly THE ALMIGHTY God.
Omniscience is a divine attribute which, in the next place, claims our attention. By omniscience is meant, a perfect knowledge of all things. God being the creator, preserver and disposer of all things, must certainly possess a perfect knowledge of his own works. “ Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world; or as the words may be rendered, from eternity.
The universal providence of God, clearly implies his omniscience. His agency, in directing all events, must be without an object, unless he be omniscient. Is it not manifestly impossible for God to direct the falling of a sparrow to the ground, and to number all the hairs of our heads, unless he be omniscient ? Truly,“ the Lord is a God of knowledge ; and by him actions are weighed.” His knowledge is underived, unacquired, infinite, immutable and eternal.
Omnipresence is also a distinct, and glorious attribute of the Deity. In the nature of things, it is impossible, that the power or knowledge of God should be of an extent, beyond his presence. Nor can we conceive how he can be an infinite being, unless he be every where present. The doctrine of the universal presence of God, which is peculiarly solemn and interesting, is much celebrated in the holy scriptures. “ Am I a God at hand, and not a God afar off, saith the Lord ? Do I not fill heaven and earth, saith the Lord P” In the most solemn and animated strains, is the omnipresence of God celebrated by the Psalmist. 6 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I fee from thy presence ? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there; if I make my bed in hell, behold thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me." 66 The eyes of the Lord are in every