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S E R M O N II.
That there is a Supreme Being,
ROMANS I. 20.
THE INVISIBLE THINGS OF HIM FROM THE CREATION OF THE WORLD ARE CLEARLY SEEN, BEING UNDERSTOOD BY THE THINGS THAT ARE MADE, EVEN. HIS ETERNAL POWER AND GODHEAD.
YONCERNING the Being of an omnipotent, intelligent; First
CAUSE, necessarily existing from all eternity, barely to open
our eyes is belief, to think is conviction, to deliberate is demonstration, and knowledge infallible. Hence it is, that a cool, disinterested, ifpeculative Atheist is, perhaps, one of the rarest, and. most singular characters, that human reason, exposed to an almost. infinite variety of abuse, ever exhibited.-Indeed, when the head condescends to ask. counsel of the heart, and reason is led captive by. passion, and enslaved by prejudice;- that in this state of perversion, man is capable of believing, or disbelieving any thing, or every thing, is an humiliating truth, which experience must confirm to us in numberlefs instances.
It was objected to the founder of the Epicurean philosophy, who pretended to hold the existence of a Supreme Being and yet disbelieved his government of the world, that what he in words admitted, he in fact-denied. For if the Deity be so absorbed in the
contemplation of himself and his own infioite perfections, as either not to be at leisure, or not disposed to interest himself in our affairs, but our good and bad actions were to him equally indifferent, this mere speculative Theisin is but a more refined species of pra&ical Atheisin.- He that, by a due exertion of his rational faculties, cometh to the knowledge of a God must not only believe that he is, but that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him, and consequently must punish all those, who as moral agents, have led a life in habitual opposition to his attributes. As from the creation of the world his eternal power and natural perfections are clearly seen ; so by the invisible things of our own hearts, justice, benevolence, and mercy, his moral, may with equal certainty be inferred. For he that gave us our being itself must be the author of whatsoever in us is most excellent ; or has in its nature any approach towards perfection ;- if then justice benevolence and mercy exist in the human soul in any degree ; God must be the giver of them ; consequently he must be himself just, benevolent and merciful. But justice is merely a relative term, and consists in rendering to another what is fit and equal ; as then God by his eternal power was enabled to create, so by his infinite justice he must be disposed to reward or punish us in proportion as we shall fulfil, or disappoint the councils of his wisdom in calling us into existence.
Thus much at least is indispensably essential to rational Theism, and the same corruption of heart, the same naughtiness of flesh and fpirit, the same apprehension of punishment which make it men's interest to disbelieve God's moral attributes, would soon induce them to deny his natural ; but that the contemplation of these gives but little check or disturbance to them amid the unbounded gratiGcation of their sinful appetites. But now if the belief of a God be a mere speculative notion, having no influence on our conduct, ei. ther as individuals, or members of society; what material difference,