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know that there is a God ?”—My intention, therefore, is to lay before you such clear and decisive proofs of his existence, that you may in future, not only be fortified against those evils, but enabled also to repel them with advantage to yourselves.
My first proof, that there is a Supreme Being, shall be taken from the united testimony of all nations. Read the histery of mankind, from the earliest ages down to the present time, and you will observe that a belief in a Supreme Being has always prevailed in every part of the rational world. Heathens, Jews, Mahometans and Christians, how much soever they have differed about religion, have all united in the belief of this important truth. Even the most stupid Hottentots and savage Americans, shew an unity of sentiment on this point.
This truth, likewise, has met not only with an universal, but an uninterrupted reception.-Notwithstanding the almost innumerable changes that have occurred throughout theworld, the belief of a Supreme Being has invariably remained the same. States and governments have been overthrown-modes and forms of worship have undergone successive alterations, but this sentiment has experienced no change.--To
what can this be attributed ?
-How comes it to pass, that every nation, in every age, should favor this persuasion, although the consciences of thousands of mankind, at one period of their lives or another, have led them to wish that there was no God? The prevalence of this sentiment must have ari. sen either from a lasting impression made on the mind by a rational and divine agency, or from the evident marks of infinite power and wisdom displayed in the works of creation.
Should it be objected, that this belief of a Supreme Being has been imposed on all mankind, through the influence of Statesmen or by the subtilty of Priest-craft, in order to keep men in due subjection; we would ask in reply, how could any set of rulers, either in Church or State obtrude it on all men? Or, when and where did a sufficient number of Statesmen and Priests assemble, with a view to contrive, establish, and propagate'such a plan? Who were the characters? Has history ever mentioned the name of a single individual ? Not a word on the subject can be traced in any records, either ancient or modern. This objection, therefore, falls to the ground, so that we are certainly authorized to conclude, that the universal consent of all nations, is an incontrovertible proof, that "there is a God in Heaven,"
Another proof to establish this truth may be drawn from the Works of creation. The various alterations, changes, and marks of decay, which the works of nature continually exhibit, most convincingly prove that they have not existed from eternity. And if they were not from eternity, they must, at some time or other, have been made. But the idea of their having been made, bespeaks at once, the existence of a Supreme Being ;For, could this vast globe, and all that inhabit it, make themselves ?-make themselves out of nothing?-and make themselves in such order and regularity, as to display the wisest and most astonishing constructed system, of which we can form any idea ? Look, my brethren, not only at this great Fabric itself, but at the amazing and diversified forms of all creatures upon it; and see also, with what exactness their nature and situations are calculated to answer the valuable purposes for which they are designed. Consider attentively the inexplicable machinery, shape, and activity of your own bodies, and especially the nature and powers of your souls. Reflect likewise on the intimate and inconceivable union which subsists between your mortal frame, and your immortal spirit. Is it possible to conceive, that man with all his faculties of body and mind, should rise into existence by mere chance? How ridiculous the idea! Surely all these qualities of memory, reason, understanding, and affection, so closely connected with these outward, but exquisitely curious frames, must have had a Maker-and a Maker of infinite wisdom and power!
Indeed, his glorious attributes are visible in all the earth. All creatures, from the elephant to the smallest animal ;-together with the almost imperceptible insects which fly around us, and the minutest reptile which we heedlessly crush beneath our feet, proclaim the agency of an eternally wise and Omnipotent Being.–And
..The spacious firmament on high,
• The hand that made us is divine.' The works of providence also display the existence of an all-wise God. Is it not the extreme of absurdity, to deny the existence of an Omnipotent Agent, whose excellency evidently shines in the beauty and motions of those grand luminaries which enlighten this lower world—who rides upon the wings of the wind—who is visible in every spire of grass, and whose name is written on every Hower and plant, and fruit we see ? Contemplate foramoment, the sizeand situations of those heavenly bodies which daily roll above our heads; the rapidity and exactness
of their revolutions; and how they are regulated for the real advantage of this part of the creation and all that is in it; and then say, if there is not a powerful and wise Being who governs them all. Think the utility and nature of the winds- - the rain-the snow-the hail—the vapour-the thunder—the lightnings and the like. Think upon the stated and certain returns of summer and winter-seed-time and harvest day and night. Considertheamazing variety, both in form and quality, of vegetables, herbs, and flowers, all of which have their respective uses. Call to mind how great is the diversity of animals; how astonishing the similarity of some to each other, although no two are exactly alike; and how they are generally endowed with a sagacious instinct to provide for their necessities, to defend themselves from the inclemency of the weather, to propagate their species, and to obtain food for their offspring. Remark also, that almost infinite diversity, yet. amazing similarity of the countenance, voice, and disposition, visible among mankind.Contemplate, I say, for a few moments these particulars, or others of a similar description, and surely you will be compelled to exclaim, with a mind most powerfully convinced, “ There is a God in heaven, " who upholds and regulates all things!