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has either part or lot in the cause or effect of what exists in the mind, or is manifested to the senses.
In addition to the remarks I have made on this subject, I shall furnish the reader with an argument which I have always found effectual in silencing the subtle objections of the professors of Atheism. Among the few I have met with, I never found one who was able to prove what he professed, or to open his mouth in refutation of the following simple and conclusive proposition.
Agreeably to right reason and sound philosophy, it is acknowledged by all intelligent men, that a nonentity cannot produce an entity; or that nothing cannot produce something; this being admitted, because it would be absurd to deny it, it follows, that this world is an entity, or something, consequently could not be produced from a not** entity, or from nothing.
From the Greek ©s«s, <pi^'i, and aii^anroi, the lore of God and man.
I rank these with the enthusiasts of the day, though they were of a more dangerous cast. They professed their principles in France, at the beginning of the revolution. They were properly Deists, had their places of worship, as they called them, and for a time attracted some notice in Europe. It was an effort to make Deism the religion of France instead of Christianity, but they have dwindled into obscurity, and are known only by the common term of Deists.
This word comes from the Latin word Dew, God. It is used by Deists, to signify their belief in one God. So that in this sense, Christians are Deists also.
Dr. Samuel Clarke divides the anti-christian Deists into four classes, but they are comprehended in two. The first professors believe, that the works of creation sufficiently prove a First Cause; that this Cause is not inherent in nature, but above and out of nature, and the creator of nature. They believe, that this First Cause does not work by providence, in the affairs of the world, except, that by his Almighty power, he upholds and supports creation. Like the Epicurean sect, they believe, that he is too great to notice the particular concerns of man, consequently, that he is alike unmoved either by good or evil.
The second not only believe in the existence of a God, and that he superintends the government of the world by his providence; but as they do not believe, that the scriptures are of divine authority, they conclude, that all information respecting these things must be drawn from the book of nature; consequently, they reject all revelation, do not believe in the mission of Christ, and maintain, that the sacred scripture is not the word of God.*
According to Dr. Samuel Clarke, the first deistical writer that appeared in this country was Herbert, bajon of Cherbury. By his writings, he formed Deism into a
*• See Dr. Valpy's Address to his Parishioners, 3d edition octavo.
system, and endeavoured to prove, that natural religion -was sufficient to save the soul. The articles of their belief are these; that there is one God: that he is to be worshipped: that piety and virtue constitute that worship: that if we repent, God will pardon: that there are rewards and punishments in the future state.
SCRIPTURE, AND DIVINE REVELATION.
When we say, that the sacred scripture is the word of God, we do not mean, that it was all spoken by him, or that it was written by him, or that all that is contained therein is the word of God: but distinction is to be made between those precepts which inculcate justice, mercy and holiness of life, and the historical parts, which show the consequence of a life in opposition to those principles. The first are properly sacred, because they not only lead man to happiness even in this life, but give him an evidence of things not seen, in the life to come; and thus are called the word of God, as these perfections can only have their origin from the Fountain of all goodness. With respect to the last, though many passages, as being the words of wicked men, may be considered as the speeches of Satan; or, in other words, the personification of an evil spirit, which, on this account, cannot be called the word, or words of God; yet even these parts have a similar tendency, as they show the malice, pride and blasphemy of the spirit of wickedness; and on the other hand, the beauty of that spirit of divine philanthropy, which, throughout the whole Bible, breathes nothing but peace on earth, and good will towards men.
Deists think it inconsistent with the dignity of the Divine Being, that he should commission certain men to write his laws in a book; but it will appear, when duly considered, that there was an absolute necessity for such a proceeding. Suppose that neither the precepts of morality, which were first given by God to man, and handed to us by the Hebrew lawgiver; nor the blessings of religion, which are the bands of civil society; had ever reached the shores of our happy land; what knowledge could we have boasted of more than
"The untaught Indian whose untutor'd mind
Although the Bible of nature had been before our eyes, not a single precept of morality should we have been able to have gathered from the pages of this book. What was the state of the ancient Grecians 1600 years before Christ? rude, barbarous and uncivilized; until Lycurgus and Solon introduced their code of laws, the greatest part of which was taken from the books of Moses; they then became a refined and scientific nation. From the Greeks, the Romans copied their precepts of morality, and from the Romans, the ancient people of Europe received the greatest part of their moral laws. From which, it appears evident, that every precept of morality was taken from the Bible.
There is one argument to prove the authority of the word of God, which cannot be overturned by all the Deists in the world. If the Bible be not the word of God, it must have been written, or invented, either by good men, or wicked men; but if it can be proved that it was neither written, nor invented, either by good men, 'or wicked men, it must be the word of God. That it was not written, or compiled by wicked men, will appear from its own evidence, for if it is to be judged, we must suffer that evidence to appear in its defence. Can any Deist be so weak as to suppose, that wicked men, who were in the love and practice of evil, would frame laws to punish their own vices in this world, and condemn themselves to everlasting punishment, by declaring, •' the wicked shall be turned into hell, with all the nations that forget God?" And again, "Thou shalt not covet:" this reaches the thoughts and desires of the heart. These restrictions and declarations are opposite to those things, which are contained in the religious books of the Mahometan and Pagan nations, which are the production of men, in which permission is given to indulge in sensuality. This, so far, is a certain proof of the divine origin of the Bible.
It is no less evident, that good men could not be the authors of the Bible. For had it been compiled by good men, the same good men neither could nor would have given a lie to their profession by calling it the word of God, as it would only have been the word of men: consequently, the Bible must be the word of God, inspired by him and thus given to man.
It must b$ allowed, that God created the first man; this being admitted, as it cannot be denied, we cannot doubt, that he would give him a law, or rule of life. Now, whether the Divine Author of our being, condescended to speak it with an audible voice,—to write it on the heart, as is said in scripture, or whether he commissioned man by that spoken law, or from that writing on the heart, to write it in a book fof the instruction of posterity, it amounts to the same; for the law, or word of God, first spoken, or written on the heart, and from