« ZurückWeiter »
for even in the time of Aristotle there was, as he observes, "an ancient tradition (he does not say a deduction of reason, but a report or tradition) which all men had derived from their ancestors, that all things were from God, and that by God all things did consist. Remarkable words these ! and analogous to those of St. Paul, speaking of Christ, and, as is generally thought, of the creation of the material world, . All things were created by him, and for him ; and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.'
He who has employed most time in examining the history of the remote ages, will be most convinced of the following propositions: that profane authors derived their notions of a supreme Being from patriarchal tradition; that the Bible is the only book in the world in which this tradition is preserved in its original purity; that this invaluable book throws light upon the origin and ancient history of every nation in the world; and that the history of the Jews, contained in the Bible, and connected with their history to the present time, is the strongest proof which can be brought, not only against atheism, but against that species of deism which contends, that God never visibly interposed in the government of the Jewish nation.
When it is said, that the annals of all nations fall short of the deluge, it must be understood that the nation of the Jews is excepted. I look upon that people with astonishment and reverence: they are living proofs of facts most ancient and most interesting to mankind. Where do we meet with an Assyrian, Persian, Grecian, Roman, corroborating, by his testimony, any one of the events mentioned in the history of their respective empires ?. But we meet with millions of Jews, in every quarter and in every country of the world, who acknowledge not only the existence of a God, as other nations do, but that he is the very God who enabled Moses to work miracles in Egypt; who delivered to him the law which they now. observe; who called Abraham, the father of their nation, from the midst of his idolatrous kinsmen ; who preserved Noah and his family in the ark; who formed Adam out of the dust of the earth ; who created all things by the word of his power.
Wherever we have a Jew on the surface of the earth, there we have a man whose testimony and whose conduct connect the present time with the beginning of all time. He now believes, and he declares that all his progenitors have constantly believed, the history contained in the book of Moses to be a true history; he now obeys the laws which God gave to Moses above three thousand years ago; now practises the circumcision which God enjoined to Abraham ; now observes the passover, in commemoration of the mercy vouchsafed to his nation when God destroyed the first-born throughout the land of Egypt; now keeps holy the seventh day, on which God rested from the works of the creation. When nations institute rites, to preserve the memory of great events, the uniform observance of the rite authorises us to admit the certainty of the fact. The Jews have for thousands of years (and the patriarchs before the Jews probably did the same) oh, served a very significant rite in commemoration of the creation; and another in commemoration of their preservation from one of the plagues of Egypt: why should we hesitate to admit the certainty of these events ? Adam lived with Methuselah two hundred and forty years ; Methuselah lived with Shem, the son of Noah, ninety years ; and Shem lived with Abraham one hundred and fifty years : what apprehension can we reasonably entertain, that the account of the creation could either have been forged or misrepresented, when it had passed through so few hands before it reached the founder of the Jewish nation? .
But I have already gone beyond the limit I had prescribed to myself in this argument, I cannot pursue it further : sceptical men, however, will do well to consider the nature and weight of historic evidence, not only for the existence of God,but for his having made a revelation of himself to the Jewish nation. Let them examine the matter freely, and fully, and I cannot but believe that they will come to the following conclusions: that the creation is a fact; that the deluge is a fact; that the peopling of the world by the descendants of Noah is a fact; that the Jewish theocracy is a fact; and that these facts may be established, as all past transactions of great antiquity must be, by the authority of history, and especially by the history of the Jews, whom God appears to have constituted witnesses of his existence and providence to all nations, in all ages. Of the Chaldeans, Egyptians, Tyrians, God hath made, or will make, a full end; but the seed of Israel shall not cease from being a nation before him for ever.'
CREATION A PROOF OF THE DIVINE GOODNESS. CREATION is a display of supreme goodness, no less than of wisdom and power. It is the communication of numberless benefits, together with existence, to all who live. Justly is the earth said to be full of the goodness of the Lord.' Throughout the whole system of things, we behold a manifest tendency to promote the benefit either of the rational or the animal creation. In some parts of nature, this tendency may be less obvious than in others. Objects, which to us seem useless, or hurtful, may sometimes occur ; and strange it were, if in so vast and complicated a system, difficulties of this kind should not occasionally present themselves to beings, whose views are so narrow and limited as ours. It is well known, that in proportion as the knowledge of nature has increased among men, these difficulties have diminished. Satisfactory accounts have been given of many perplexing appearances. Useful and proper purposes have been found to be promoted by objects which were, at first, thought unprofitable or noxious.
Malignant must be the mind of that person ; with a distorted eye he must have contemplated creation,'who can suspect that it is not the production of infinite benignity and goodness. How many clear marks of benevolent intention appear every where around us! What a profusion of beauty and ornament is poured forth on the face of nature! What a magnificent spectacle presented to the view of man! What supply contrived for his wants! What a variety of objects set
before him, to gratify his senses, to employ his understanding, to entertain his imagination, to cheer and gladden his heart! Indeed, the very existence of the universe is a standing memorial of the goodness of the Creator. For nothing except goodness could originally prompt creation. The supreme Being, self-existent, and all-sufficient, had no wants which he could seek to supply. No new accession of felicity or glory was to result to him, from creatures which he made. It was goodness communicating and pouring itself forth, goodness delighting to impart happiness in all its forms, which in the beginning created the heaven and the earth. Hence, those innumerable orders of living creatures with which the earth is peopled; from the lowest class of sensitive being, to the highest rank of reason and intelligence. Wherever there is life, there is some degree of happiness; there are enjoyments suited to the different powers of feeling; and carth, and air, and water, are, with magnificent liberality, made to teem with life.
Let those striking displays of creating goodness call forth, on our part, responsive love, gratitude, and veneration. To this great Father of all existence and life, to him who hath raised us up to behold the light of day, and to enjoy all the comforts which his world presents, let our hearts send forth a perpetual hymn of praise. Evening and morning let us celebrate him, who maketh the morning and evening to rejoice over our heads; who 'openeth his hand, and satisfieth the desire of every living thing.'. Let us rejoice, that we are brought into a world, which is the production