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SERMON XL. A Gospel Hope. L John iii. 3. And every man that hath this hope in him,' purificth himself, even as he is pure. . . 439
Growth in Grate.
II. Pet. iii. 18. But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. ... 45C
The perseverance of the Saints proved.
Rom. viii. 38. 39 For I am persuaded that neither death nor,life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which in Christ Jesus our Lord 463
Komass, I. 20.
For the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood from the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that thej art without excuse.
ALL nature declares there is a God. If any thing which is seen, felt, or understood exists, then there exists a first cause, and that cause is God. If we are sure that .we ourselves are, and that we see, hear and understand, it is equally certain to the most perfect demonstration, that God exists. If we and all around us are non-entities, and there is nothing in the universe, then it will be granted, that there is no God. Persons who are under such derangement of mind, as to argue that they themselves are nothing, that th«y have no such thing as are called senses, that there is no feeling, seeing, smelling or tasting, that this world, and all its inhabitants, furniture, order, and beauty are nothing, no man, unless equally deranged, would enter into reasoning or argument with 6uch. Where nothing is, the attempt to originate an argument, must be both foolish and contradictory
A leading doctrine of Saint Paul, in this' epistle to the Romans, was, to prove the absolute necessity of the justification' of sinners before God, by the atonement of a Mediator, orby the righteousness of Jesus Christ alone. And as a master reasoner, he demonstrates every proposition advanced, as he passes along, B
that his doctrine might come home to the judgment and conscience of every one, with the most perfect certainty, and highest conviction of its truth. Hence he first proves that all, Jew and Gentile, were sinners, under the wrath of God, and liable to be punished with everlasting destruction. He opens and produces his proofs in the first place against the Gentile world, and afterwards against the Jew, and undeniably establishes this melancholy and awful truth, “There is none righteous, no not one.” In respect to the Gentiles, he declares, “ The wrath of God is revealed “from heaven, against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of “men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” The particular instance here assumed, in order to convict them of ungodliness and unrighteousness, is, that they stifled, suppressed, and counteracted those notions of right and wrong, and that knowledge of God which they had. “They held the truth in unrightcousness,” that is, they wickedly and wilfully acted contrary to what they knew to be just, reasonable, and proper with regard to God. To support the charge of acting contrary to the knowledge they had of God, it was necessary to prove they had some knowledge of him ; hence he declares, “That which may be “known of God is manifest in them ; for God hath showed it “unto them.” The existence and some of the perfections of God were displayed among them, for he had given abundant and clear evidence hereof; he had shewed it unto them in every thing they beheld, in all the works of creation.
In the words of the text, the Apostle proceeds particularly to state that knowledge which was attainable, and which they had from this source, to wit, the knowledge of his being, and supreme and eternal power : “For 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, so “ that they are without excuse." The plain sense of these words, and the evident design of the Apostle is, to establish this truth,
* That the existence of God, and some of his perfections, may
he learned or deduced, with the highest certainty, from the WOrks of creation.
What is intended at present, is a brief and rational demonstra. tion of the being of God, after the manner of arguing his existence here proposed by the Apostle, to wit. from his works.
By the name God, is meant an eternal, uncaused, independent, 'necessary, active, infirlitely powerful, and intelligent Being.' This description is sufficient for my present purpose. If the existence of such a TWmg be proved, the existence of God is proved. Tor such an existence is God, in all rational enquiries after or respecting the reality of his Being.
There are various topics or heads of argument, from whencs. this truth may be solidly evinced, but I mean to pursue one simple chain of reasoning founded on an undeniable fact, which cannot be controverted or contradicted by the greatest sceptic; " Ih this way, I suppose the existence of the Being described, is capable of strict and perfect demonstration. And this is the way in which the Apostle proceeds in our text—For he makes it manifest, that the Gentiles, who were destitute of a divine revelation, were, or at least might be assured of the existence of God, from the works. of creation; but if the work* of creation, or the things clearly seen, would not afford undeniable and satisfying evidence to the mind of this truth without revelation, there'could be no assurance of the divine existence and power—and, consequently, the heathens would have a just excuse for their atheism and wickedness; whereas the Apostle argues, that they are without excuse.
That such a Being does exist, which we signify by the term God, is now to be proved. And that all may understand and have conviction hereof, I shall proceed, by the most easy and gradual steps, laying the foundation of the reasoning in the most plain, obvious, and incontestable facts and principles. Wherefore observe,
First, That something does now exist, cr that some external objects, and obvious to our senses, now are. Nothing can Br more evident or certain than this. This it a fact, of which every person is perfectly assured. We are as sure of this, as that we have senses or understanding. No one doubts of the existence «f the things without him, and arotrad him. No one doubts that the world in which he lives, is something. Every one is assured, that it is replenished with inhabitants, and those he daily converses with, are real existences. At least, every one is convinced of his own existence. Every one is sure that he himself is. If he be not sure of this, he can be sure of nothing. There can be no such tiling as assurance, or evidence of any fact. In a word, the present existence of something, of this world, and of ourselves is so clear, as not to permit us to reason upon it, in order to make it clearer. One who denies this> cannot be reasoned 'with at all about any thing whatsoever. Because it is one of the first and most evident of all truths. It is so evident, that it can. admit of no additional evidence. It is a self evident and notorious fact. A man cannot open his eyes, nay, lie cannot think one thought, or speak one word, but he must receive irresistible conviction, that something now is, or does exist. Therefore, I observe,
Secondly, No being or thing, which, now exists, could make itself, or come into being of itself. Consider the terms in which this proposition is expressed, and every one must immediately be convinced of its truth. Is it not impossible that any thing should make itself, or give being to itself, when as yet it was a nonentity, or nothing? Is it not self evident, that which is nothing, can neither act nor do any thing? Now for a thing to make itself, or come into existence of itself, is certainly to do something; therefore, it must be, and not be, that it roust be something and nothing, act and not act, at the same time. In order to make itself, it must be—for surety what is not, cannot do any thing; and yet it must not be or exist—for if it already exists, it cannot now begin to be, or come into existence; because that which already has obtained existence, cannot have existence