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THR

RIGHTS OF GOD.

INTRODUCTION.

IT would be a waste of time to offer many arguments in proof of the existence of a God: for though many avow themselves atheists or scepticks; yet their hearts are more disordered than their understandings. "The fool hath said in his heart—no God; they are "corrupt, they have done abominable works."* They wish that there were no God to controul or punish them; they hope, and try to believe, that there is none, this induces them to search for objections and sophistical arguments against the truth, and thus, through Satan's delusions, and in the righteous judgment of God, they become converts to atheism, or a scepticism bordering upon it; and then to elude conviction, and to keep themselves in countenance, they commence apostles of their impious opinions. But in reality, the existense of the creation, or indeed of any

•Ps. xiv. 1.

creature, is a sufficient proof that there is a God who made all things; as the most acute reasoners have shewn, especially the celebrated Mr. Locke: and he, that lives, moves, thinks, and acts, must be left without excuse, if he deny or forget God, or refuse to honour him, and be thankful to him. Reason and common sense confirm this verdict of inspiration: so that the man who withstands the evidence of this argument, is not likely to be convinced by rational deductions; and will probably continue an infidel, till convinced of his fatal mistake, by CKperiencing the indignation of that God whom he hath denied. But among those, who, in words at least, thus far assent to our principles, there are great numbers, who seem to exclude the Creator from the government of the world; and from any right to the obedience or worship of mankind. Some speak ambiguously about creation, and try to account for every thing by the operation of second causes, instead of resolving the whole into the omnipotent Fiat of the first great Cause. Others argue, as if God had constituted the universe at first in such perfection, that the laws of nature alone were sufficient to preserve its regular order, without his immediate interposition. They seem to think, that it would be dishonourable to God, to oxert omiipotence continually for the preservation of his own work; or, that it is incompatible with his diginity and felicity thus to interpose in all the concerns of his creatures. Thus they confound the idea of alsolute pers?ction, the incommunicable attribute of God, with that of relative persection as bestowed by him on his creatures; and by false notions of dignity and happiness, they represent the Creator as finite and imperfect, whilst they deify his works as independent and self-sufficient!

Such sophistry, however, is well calculated to lead men from thinking of their obligations and accountableness to the Creator; and to pacify their consciences in neglecting his worship and service, and manifesting, in their whole conduct, that they contemptuously disregard his authority, his favour, and his indignation: indeed they, who inwardly hate religion, may often find it convenient, to allow the existence of God, in order to escape reproach and elude conviction; and yet live as if there were no God.

Put, if the mind were unbiassed by corrupt passions and prejudices, it would appear, that there is no rational ground for a moment's hesitation, in respect of the scriptural doctrine, that the great Creator upholds all things by his omnipotence, manages them in his wisdom and goodness, and governs them in juslice, truth, and holiness; that "not a sparrow falls to "the ground without Him," that "even the hairs of "our head are all numbered," and that all second causes derive their origin, permanency, and efficacy from him alone.

The deviations from the ordinary course of nature, in those miraculous events which have been unanswerably attested; the surprising accomplishment of many explicit prophecies, through successive generations; the extraordinary deliverances, beyond all probability, which some persons have experienced; and the uniform answers, which pious christians receive to their prayers, will have a vast weight with the im

Vol. III. Hh

partial enquirer, when seriously employed in considering this subject. The doctrine in question is established by every external and internal proof of the divine original of the scriptures, and oannot be denied without virtually rejecting them: and, even if they were wholly passed over in the argument, the contrary tenets might easily be shewn to be so irrational, and unphilosophical, that nothing but aversion to the perfections and government of God, could induce any reflecting person to espouse and adhere to them.

They, who thus far coincide with the author in opinion, will readily perceive that the great Creator, Benefactor, and Governor of the universe has Rights. Indeed, he only, has rights essentially, originally, and unalietiably; and all the rights of creatures are derived from the powers which he hath given them, the relations to him and each other, which he hath constituted, and from his express appointments; and therefore they are dependent, and liable to be forfeited and lost. What these Rights of God are, I proceed to shew, by adducing some of them for a specimen: at the same time I would observe, that every Right of God implies correspondent duties, which his rational creatures are bound to perform, or are inexcuseable in neglecting.

PART I.

Containing the Rights of God, as the Creator, pro, vidential Benefactor, and moral Governor of the World.

WHETHER we contemplate the glorious perfections of the infinite and eternal God; or whether we consider what he hath done for his creatures, and continually bestows on them; we must be convinced that be hath an unalienable right to universal dominion, worship, love, and obedience; and that "His is the "kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever."—In particular—

I. The Lord hath a right to propose the display of his own glory, as his ultimate end, in all his works.* From eternity he was essentially glorious; but the perfections of his nature could only be manifested through the medium of creation; and be known, admired, and adored by those creatures, whom he was pleased to form capable of such contemplations and affections. If these continued obedient to the Creator, they could not but enjoy the most complete felicity, in beholding his glory, possessing his love, and celebrating his praises: but it was meet, tfiat the first Cause of all things should propose his own glory, as

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