« AnteriorContinuar »
being. Any acts, therefore, proved to be true by credible testimony, and which are plainly above the reach of natural causes, establish the existence of God.a
2d. We proposed to consider the unity of God.b
1. The order of the world proves there is but one God.
If there were several minds engaged in the government of the world, there should necessarily be a diversity and irregularity in its administration. The absence of any such irregularity, therefore, establishes the unity of God. In opposition to this argument, it is said, that since such divine minds should be perfect, the same thoughts would be presented to them, and thus all diversity be avoided. But this conclu
* This argument may be more forcibly expressed thus:-A miracle is a repeated creation ; is, therefore, the testimony on which the miracle rests be valid, the creation of things is admitted.
b It may not be unnecessary to observe, that there is a peculiarity in the meaning of the word unity wben applied to God. The sun is one in point of fact, but not in respect of possibility, for though there is none like it in nature, still it is possible there may be others. Man is one numerically, neither in point of fact nor of possibility, since there not only may be, but actually are, others of the same species. But God is one, both in point of fact, since “ there is one God, and there is none other than he,” and also in point of possibility, since none could be of the same species. On the subject of the Unity of God, see Bp. Hamilton, as before, and Wilkins' Nør tural Rel. l. 1. c. 8.
sion is not certain. It is true, such' beings would agree in things of a moral nature, but in things which have no intrinsic moral goodness attached to them, they would be bound by no such obligation. In this case, their wills being free, might produce different effects.
2. Infinite perfection implies unity.
We cannot conceive a being of infinite perfection, without at the same time ascribing to him a superiority over others. This superiority could not be attained where there was a plurality of Gods of equal rank and authority.
3. The Scriptures frequently assert the unity of God.
Indeed this was the leading doctrine of Moses and the prophets. Thus, “ Hear, O Israel, the Lord your God is one God.” (Deut. vi. 4.) “ Thou shalt have none other Gods but me.” (Exod. xx. 3.) “ There is none other God but me; besides me there is none else, and I know no other.” (Is. xliv. 6, 8.) In the New Testament too, the same doctrine is held forth. Thus, our Saviour declares, that eternal life consists in “knowing the only true God.” (John, xvii. 3.) And the Apostle urges it as a principal motive to mutual love, that there is “one God, one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” (Eph. iv. 5, 6.) Now, we know there is but one Messiah and one doctrine delivered by him : it therefore follows, there is but one God.
3d. We proposed to consider the nature of God. For this purpose we shall observe,
(1.) God is everlasting.
That God has existed from eternity, follows from his having been the first cause of all things. For this infers, that he is himself uncaused, and that which is uncaused must be eternal. That he will exist for evermore, follows from the same property. For the cessation of his exis. tence could only be produced by the act of a superior being, but no such superior being can be conceived, as he could not have been created by God. As to the manner of this existence, it must be necessary, not contingent existence. For the latter implies dependence on another, whereas all others were the effect of his power. God therefore must be eternal and self-existent.
(2.) God is a spirit, that is, he is without body, parts, or passions.
For a contrary supposition would imply an im. perfection in God.
Thus with respect to the first, experience. shows us, that our mind is, in a great measure, under the control of the body. It certainly has some superiority over it, consisting in the power of commanding the motion of any part, by an act of the will. But its inferiority arises from this, that the organs of the body must be properly disposed, else that motion will not follow. Were the body in a glorified, and therefore the
purest state, it could only serve as a repository for ideas, or as an instrument of local motion. The supposition, therefore,of its being necessary to God for either of these purposes, implies an imperfection, which cannot consist with the nature of the Supreme Being.
Some of the ancient philosophers, however, who conceived that the world could not be made from nothing, held that matter was eternal and self-existent. They acknowledged at the same time the existence of an intelligent mind, but supposed that the world served as a body in which it dwelt. But this opinion is liable to many objections.
1.) It does not remove the difficulty it is intended to obviate.
For the giving motion to matter, is as much beyond our conception, as the giving existence to it. Both require an equal exertion of power
a Some of those who hold this opinion, have conceived it reconcileable with the account given by Moses of the creation. The principal argument by which they endeavour to support this idea is, that the word Ny used in expressing that creation, does not necessarily signify to make out of nothing, but implies a pre-existent matter. Now, it is true, that the term is frequently adopted in Scripture to convey a formation out of something previously existing, but it is also true, that there is no word in the Hebrew language, strictly meaning creation. If, then, Moses intended to reveal the doctrine we maintain, he could not have found a word more to his purpose.-See Vol. kel de Ver. Relig. l. 2. c. 4.; and in refutation of bim, Stillingfleet's Orig. Sac. B. 3. c. 2. sec. 8.
to effect them, for though the pre-existence of matter be assumed, the creation of motion out of nothing must still be acknowledged.
2.) It involres a contradiction.
If matter be eternal and self-existent, it must be an independent being; but an independent being can
be under the control of another.
3.) It supposes God to be a dependent being.
The idea of dependence, implies, that there is something whose existence is required, in order to the exercise of a certain power. If, therefore, God cannot create any thing except from pre-existent matter, it is evident he cannot be independent of it.
4.) It changes the universe into a deity, and therefore leads to atheism.
From seeing the body, men always conclude the existence of the person. If, therefore, mat
er be the body of God, it will naturally be regarded as the Supreme Being himself. This doctrine then amounts to atheism.
It is true, God manifested himself to the Jews, under bodily appearances. But this circumstance only shows his power over matter, in moulding it so as to produce such appearances. He is likewise said in Scripture, to have ears, eyes, and the various organs of the human body. But these expressions are used in accommodation to our finite understandings, and the mean