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holy style, without a shadow or taint of error, corruption, or imperfection.
4. The divine end of the Scriptures. They in every part drive at this one point.
To make us wise to salvation, (2 Tim. iii. 15.)
To guide our feet in the way of peace, (Luke i. 79.) As an infallible rule of saving faith-as an immoveable foundation of gospel hope-as a perfect book of doctrine, and an unerring director of christian manners. Thomas Davies.
THE EXISTENCE OF GOD.
THE Existence of God is the basis of religion. This truth will be evident, if we remember, that the word Religion always denotes either a system of truths, of which God is the great subject; or a system of affections and conduct, of which He is the supreme object. If we can prove to ourselves the existence of a God; that is, of a Being, by whom we were created, and by whom the universe is governed; some such system of truths, affections, and conduct, must be also capable of being proved. To such a Being we and the universe must sustain important relations; and out of these relations must necessarily arise, to intelligent beings, a variety of duties, immediately, and always, owed to him. Were there no such Being, there could be no such relations, nor duties. Were the existence of such a Being incapable of truth, the existence of the relations and duties would be equally incapable of being proved. Happily for us, and accordantly with his own wisdom, God has not, in this most interesting case, left himself without ample witness.
COMPARISONS WHICH DEMONSTRATE THE BEING OF A GOD.
Comparison I Taken from the Iliad of Homer.
WHO would believe that Homer's Iliad, that masterly poem, which bears such characters of perfection, was never composed by an exertion of genius in that great poet; but that the letters of the alphabet being thrown together in confusion, a pure stroke of hazard (like a cast of the dye) re-assembled these letters precisely in the order necessary to compose in verse, full of harmony and variety, so many grand events! To place and connect them so justly together, and describe each object in the most attractive, noble, and engaging light; in fine, to make every person sustain his character in so natural and lively a manner! Reason and subtillize as much as you will, you will never persuade a man in his senses, that the Iliad had no author but chance. Cicero says the same of the Annals of Ennius; and adds, that hazard could never produce a single distich, much less an entire poem. Why then will this judicious writer believe of the universe (without dispute a more marvellous work than the Iliad) what his good sense would not allow him to think of this poem? But let us pass to a second comparison, taken from St. Gregory Nazianzen.
Comparison II. Taken from the sound of instruments.
WERE we to hear in a chamber, behind a curtain, a soft and harmonious instrument; could we imagine, that chance, without any human assistance, had formed this instrument? Did ever any man say, that the
strings of a violin voluntarily came to place themselves in order, stretched along an instrument whose pieces are put together to form a cavity with regular overtures? Shall we assert, that the bow, made without skill, was moved by the wind to touch each string so distinctly and justly? What reasonable mind can seriously doubt but a human hand touches this instrument with so much harmony? Will not the auditor cry, It is a masterly hand? We are never weary of discovering the same truth.
Comparison III. Drawn from Statuary.
WHOEVER should find in a desert and unknown island an exquisite statue of marble, would certainly reason thus; Doubtless this place was once inhabited; I see in this piece before me the hand of a curious sculptor; I admire the delicacy with which he has proportioned all the parts of this figure, to give them so much grace, majesty, life, tenderness, motion, and action.
What would this man say if somebody took in their head to tell him; "No; this statue was never the work of an artist. It is true, it is made in the most perfect taste, and according to all the rules of art; but it is all the effect of chance. Amongst many pieces of marble, one assumed that shape by mere hazard; a violent storm carried it directly to this pedestal, which of itself stood ready to receive it. Suppose it a Venus, equal to that of Medicis; or a Hercules, like the Farnesian. You think this image ready to move, and animated with life; but it owes nothing to art. A blind stroke of chance alone has finished and placed it in the manner you see."
THE ETERNITY AND SUPREME HAPPINESS OF GOD.
GOD is supremely happy. Then, "a thousand years with him are as one day, and one day as a thousand years." In the enjoyment of perfect happiness, the duration of time is imperceptible. Placed, as we are, my dearest brethren, in this valley of miseries, tasting only imperfect and imbittered pleasures, it is very difficult for us to conceive the impression which felicity makes on an intelligence supremely happy. If the enjoyment of some small good makes us conceive to a certain degree, a state in which ages appear moments, the miseries inseparable from our lives presently replunge us into a state, in which moments appear ages; in which sorrows of the body, and sorrows of the mind, frequently less tolerable than those of the body, so powerfully apply our minds to each indivisible space of time spent in pain, that we think our sufferings have been long, when we have scarcely begun to suffer. But God is always happy, and always supremely happy; he always enjoys that perfect felicity, which makes a thousand years, ten thousand millions of years, vanish with an inconceivable rapidity. It would be unhappy not to enjoy this kind of felicity more than ten or twelve millions of years, because the impression which that felicity would make on the soul would be so powerful and lively, that it would render him who enjoyed it insensible to time; time would expire, and he would hardly perceive that he had enjoyed any thing, even when he had possessed happiness as long as I have supposed God would be unhappy (allow me this expression) if his felicity were not eternal. But this is one of the subjects which must intimidate a preacher through the difficulty he meets with in furnishing mat
We must have ideas beyond human. We must
have terms which mankind have not yet invented. We ourselves must have participated the felicity of God; we must speak to men who also had partaken of it; and afterwards, we must have agreed together on a new language to express each idea excited by the hap piness, of which he had made so blessed an experience. Represent to yourselves a Being, or rather think, my dear hearers, on the difficulty of representing a Being, who, having in the prodigious capacity of his intelligence, all possible plans of this universe, has preferred that which appeared to him the wisest, the best, and the most conformable to the holiness of his attributes; represent a Being who has executed this plan, a Being who has created in this vast extent which our imagination fancies, in that which our whole mind, more capable still of conceiving grand objects than our imagination alone, or our senses admire; represent to yourselves a Being, who has created whatever is most capable of contributing to perfect felicity; represent a Being who loves, and who is beloved by objects worthy of his love; a Being who knows how to repress the madness of those who rebel against his empire; a Being who shares his felicity with spirits, whom he esteems, and by whom he is esteemed above all things; a Being who has the pleasure of rendering the objects of his esteem happy, and who acknowledge that all their happiness comes from him;spirits, who continually praise the author of their felicity, and who, casting their crowns at his feet, incessantly cry, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of thy glory," (Isa. vi. 3:) represent to yourselves a Being who is approved by intelligences skilful in virtues, in grandeurs, in objects worthy of praise; a Being who loves only order, and who has power to maintain it; a Being who is at the summit of felicity, and who knows that