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soning many times looks like trifling; and out of a hearty • concernedness and jealousy for the honour of religion, one • would rather it should march on with an heroical neglect of • bold and malapert cavillers, than make itself cheap by dis
cussing at every turn its principles.' Theology might safely refrain from encountering a mere absurdity, and assume the fact of existence, including the self-existence of the First Great Cause, as granted.
The self-existence of God is as certain a truth as his existence: it is included in the idea of God, and therefore forms part of the proposition, There is a God. If this is not so immediately perceived as the affirmation, that two and two are equal to four, it is owing, not to its being less self-evident, but to the abstract nature of the idea of uncaused existence : * the meaning of the terms is less obvious, but, when understood,
the assent of the mind is as instantaneously given in the one - case as in the other. The Being who made all things, must have existed antecedently to all things, independently of all things, uncaused, unoriginated, from eternity, by the necessity of his nature,-that is, must be self-existent. And that the -Cause of all being must be self-existent, is not more evident and certain, the terms being understood, than that, as the Cause of all perfection, he must be all-perfect. Otherwise, though a cause would be assigned in the Divine Existence, for the existence of other beings, there would be perfections attaching to created beings, for which no cause would be assignable ; they would be effects without a cause. And the absurdity would not be greater, that is involved in the supposition of contingent qualities without a cause, than that which attaches to the idea of contingent existence without a cause. In other words, we might as well suppose a finite being to have come into exist. ence of itself, as suppose it to possess qualities of power, wisdom, goodness, for which it was not indebted to its Author, or, as suppose that the Author of all power, wisdom, and goodness is less than infinitely powerful, wise, and good. The argument is as direct from the capacity, intelligence, and conscience of man to the perfections of the Creator, as from our eonscious existence to the Divine self-existence. The Cause of all being must be the Cause of all well-being also. Self
existence!' exclaims the Author of the Living Temple, into how profound an abyss is a man cast at the thought of it! • How doth it overwhelm and su allow up his mind and whole soul! With what satisfaction and delight must he see himself comprehended of what he finds he can never comprehend ! For, contemplating the Self-existent Being, he finds it eterpally, necessarily, never not existing ! He can have no thought
of the Self-existing Being, as such, but as always existing: as having always existed, as always certain to exist. Inquiring into the spring and source of This Being's existence, • Whence is it that it doth exist? his own notion of a self-ex'
isting Being (which is not arbitrarily taken up, but which the reason of things hath imposed upon him) gives him his an• swer, and it can be no other: In that it is a self-existent • Being, it hath it of itself, that it doth exist. It is an eternal, • everlasting spring and fountain of perpetually-existent being • to itself. What a glorious excellency of being is this ! Whai
this mean, but the greatest remoteness from nothing that is possible; that is, the most absolute fullness and plenitude of all being and perfection ? And whereas all caused being, • as such, is, to every man's understanding, confined within * certain limits; what can the uncaused, self-existent Being be, • but most unlimited, infinite, all-comprehending, and most • absolutely perfect? Nothing, therefore, can be more evident, * than that the Self-existent Being must be the absolutely per*fect Being.'
Argument, then, against the existence of God, there is none, nor can by possibility be any. Argument against the selfexistence of God, it is equally impossible to frame; because the Cause of all things must Himself exist necessarily, and the contrary implies a contradiction. The perfection of God so immediately follows from the nature of the Divine existence, that the only semblance of argument that can be opposed to the demonstration, must be of the kind that is termed a posteriori, which species of evidence, however strong, does not admit of its outweighing the positive demonstration. All that the infidel can urge as an objection against the wisdom and goodness of the Creator, is founded on the apparent disorder or actual evil which is seen in this part of his Creation; and this argument, if valid, would only imply a deficient exercise of those perfections, or a perfection short of absolute and infinite. To set against which, the objector's own sense of fitness and goodness, derived from his Creator, leading him to approve of what is wise and conducive to happiness, is a stronger proof, a testimony within himself, of those very perfections in the Deity which appear to be eclipsed by the existence of evil. Thus, while the objection, pushed to the utmost, only intimates that God is not infinitely powerful, wise, and good, the very objection, springing from the nature which God has implanted, implies that he is wise and good as well as powerful. But an objection drawn from the deficient exercise or manifestation of Infinite attributes, can never be conclusive against the existence of those attributes ; for, of the first,-of what it is consonant with Infinite Wisdom, all things considered, to do, no one who is not infinitely wise, is competent to judge. We are sure that there cannot be more in the Effect than there is in the Cause ; but we can never be sure that there is not more in the Cause tban is seen in the Effect. But were the infidel objection valid, it would amount to nothing higher than a probability, a presumption, ibat the Creator, though wise, and powerful, and benevolent, is not infinitely so. Which probability, deduced altogether from present appearances, is to be set against the demonstration derived from the very nature of the Divine existence, that, in all his perfections, he must be infinite.
It is easy, and it may be useful, to shew, that even in the display of those perfections, the proofs of Divine wisdom and goodness infinitely preponderate over the apparent exceptions ; because the mind is more apt to be affected by sensible illustrations than by mathematical certainties. It is proper to vindicate the ways of God against the cavils of infidels; but yet, this should not so be done as to rest the Divine character on a balance of probabilities--on the preponderance of good over evil, or the doctrine of future retribution. This is, we think, a very dangerous representation. It is to suspend man's first and highest obligation on the degree of satisfaction
may be able to attain to respecting the Divine character from the evidence of his works ; a view of things which alike overlooks the relation in which he stands to his Creator, and the higher proof, implanted in his moral nature, of the Absolute Perfection of God. To argue the Divine Perfections from present appearances and probable anticipations, is, it seems to us, to argue from what is uncertain to what is certain, instead of setting out from certainty, and applying the fundamental axiom of all theology, morals, and philosophy, to the explanation of what is problematical. If any thing in knowledge is certain, it is this; first, that God exists, and secondly, that, being God, “ He is light, and in Him is no 66 darkness at all.”
If there is a God, the atheist himself cannot but admit that this is the true notion of the Being whose existence he denies. No one who confesses his belief in a God, pretends to believe that he can be other than a being absolutely perfect. Thus, every argument aimed against the perfection of the Divine Being, strikes at the belief in his existence, because it calls in question something which is essential to his being and nature, and inseparable from the idea of God. But, if the existence of God be demonstrated, including under that idea his necessary perfections, all the little cavils of infidels
against it, it has been justly remarked, 'must signify nothing, • because the same thing cannot be both true and false.' If those persons who suffer themselves to entertain and dwell upon such sceptical cavils, while they would start back with horror from the conclusion to which they lead, did but well consider this alternative-either God is absolutely perfect, and all appearances to the contrary signify nothing, or the atheist is right,--this might save them both the pain and the guilt of dallying with blasphemous suggestions.
These volumes contain an Essay written for the Premiums bequeathed by the late John Burnett, Esq. of Aberdeen, to the authors of the best and next best treatises, in the estimation of the judges appointed by the Testator, on the evidence in favour of the Divine existence and attributes. The advertisement which announced this bequest, first appeared in the year 1811, and the time allowed for the composition of the treatises, extended to the 1st of Jan. 1814. The competition excited by the munificent premiums, (12001. to the best, and 4001. to the next in merit) does not appear to have been so great as might have been expected. Mr. Drew's production, in company with about fifty competitors, was submitted to the inspection of the appointed judges. But he was not so fortunate as to carry off either premium. The first prize was awarded to the Rev. Dr. Brown, the Principal of Marischal College ; the second to the Rev. J. B. Sumner. Both of the prize Essays were published ; and we must plead guilty to a misdemeanour, in having failed to give an account of them at the time of their appearance. We must frankly confess, however, that the omission did not proceed altogether from inadvertency. It appeared to us an invidious task, to review the decision of another tribunal; and we felt extremely glad that we had not on that occasion to determine, by our decision, the award of the 16001. It appeared to us, that the piety of the Testator's intentions was more unequivocally indicated by his bequest, than the soundness of his judgement. He seems to have assumed two positions, both of which might admit of a question: first, that the religious condition of society is, in a considerable degree, implicated in the prosecution of the metaphysical argument in proof of the Being and Attributes of God; and secondly, that the validity and influence of this argument would be materially assisted by the purchase, every fortieth year for ever, of two Essays upon the subject, at the price of sixteen hundred pounds. We are not aware that, hitherto, such an expectation has been adequately realized.
Dr. Brown's Essay is certainly a creditable performance.
Without making a high pretension to originality of thought, it presents, in a perspicuous, popular, and in many respects able manner, the various topics of argument which the terms of the question embraced ; and it will at least answer the purpose of informing the reader as to what it is usual to advance on the several branches of the subject. The chief faults of the work are frequent and rather forced references to the politics of the day, and occasional digressions not strictly in accordance with the digoity of the subject. We might have been disposed to rate Mr. Sumner's treatise rather more highly, but have felt bound to distrust our own judgement after the sentence of the Aberdeen judges. Mr. Drew's Essay yields to neither of the successful treatises in point of original talent; but as its intrinsic value is by no means equal to the ingenuity and acumen which it displays, we see no room for arraigning the decision respecting it. The Author, however, was not disposed to consign it wholly to oblivion, and having submitted it to the inspection of several literary friends, who encouraged him by their approbation, committed it to the press. It has, we perceive, been published some years; but it has so happened that we never met with it, or heard of it, till a copy fell into our hands some few months ago. The interest of such a work does not, however, in any measure depend upon its date.
The name of Samuel Drew hust be well known to our readers as that of the author of two very ingenious and meritorious volumes on the Immateriality of the Soul and the Resurrection of the Body. At the time of writing those works, he was living in the greatest obscurity, dependent, we believe, altogether for support on a mechanical occupation, and indebted to the almost unaided powers of his own mind for the proficiency he had made. He is now a preacher in the Wesleyan Connexion, and as such, commands very considerable attention. It is impossible, in reading these volumes, not to perceive the marks of a very strong and original mind. In the days of the Schoolmen, the Author, on whichsoever side he had enlisted, would have been a welcome champion and a formidable antagonist, provided only that he could have quoted Aristotle. The work is divided into three parts. Part I. consists of arguments a priori; and the first of these has at least boldness and novelty to recommend it: it is as follows. Space exists po• sitively; it is a visible display of the Divine immensity, and • affords proofs of the existence of God-Space, being an infiO nite perfection, proves the existence of an infinite substance.' The second argument is drawn, in the same words, from the existence of Duration.