« PreviousContinue »
ON NATURAL RELIGION;
The evidences of the Being and moral perfections of a Deity, deducible from the works of nature, and encouraging to the practice of virtue.
"He that cometh to God, must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
Heb. xi. v. 6.
ON NATURAL RELIGION.
Ir is not our object to enquire whether the sentiments which are classed under natural religion have been discovered, or could have been discovered, by the powers of reason alone. Admitting the first conceptions of true religion to have been derived from a divine revelation, the reason of man must be convinced that they are worthy of God. It perceives at once their infinite superiority to absurd extravagances of paganism, and confirms our belief in revelation by the consonance of its doctrines with the principles of reason.
In subjects of human science every one perceives the distinction between discoveries made, and a perception of the truth of these discoveries. The architect designs and executes ; the multitude approve and admire, what they could not have planned. The profound Philosopher alone may be competent to the inves
tigations of science; a man of common understanding will be able to profit by his investigations. If the most desirable views of religion be in conformity with the first principles of reason, it is of inferior importance whether they were, or could have been, discovered by the exercise of intellect; or whether they were revealed by that being, who gave to man those powers of intellect, by which he is able to distinguish between supernatural interpositions, the pretensions of imposture, and the visions of fanaticks.
As our chief attention will be directed, in these theological disquisitions, to the grand objects of an immediate revelation, we propose to treat the article before us with all possible brevity. The analytical method which we have adopted, cannot be prosecuted to its due extent, in scrutinizing the natural arguments for the existence of an intelligent first cause. For every thing that exists in the immensity of space would present its claims. The author's sole motives for introducing this Disquisition, were a desire of preserving an unity in his plan; and the hopes that his observations, which respect the distinctions subsisting in the divine attributes, although they may appear to be novel, will not be considered as unimportant.
SUMMARY VIEW OF THE ARGUMENTS ON WHICH
PHILOSOPHICAL Theists unite in contemplating God as one, living, intelligent, spiritual, immutable, operative, and happy being; the source of all other beings: whose existence is from eternity whose presence is universal; whose power is irresistible whose knowledge embraces all real and possible existences: whose wisdom is unerring: whose goodness is as unbounded as his power and his wisdom; extending to every proper object in universal nature.
Theists maintain, that these sentiments of deity are not the hypothetic visions of the brain, but that they are supported by all the evidences which the immensity of the subject, and the contracted limits of the human faculties, will admit. They are embraced, because they alone