« ZurückWeiter »
nities, which is of capacity sufficient to comprehend, and consequently, in the boundless grasp of his ideas, to limit, whatsoever else we call infinite. Now is it not shocking to common sense and reason, to suppose there can possibly be more than one being, of whom all this may be said ; that is, more than one real Infinite, one God?
It is from the works of creation only, that we can refute the Atheist, and prove there is a God, against such as deny the truth of all revelation. But could we rationally ascribe the creation to a creature; that is, to a being of limited wisdom and power; this would force us to acknowledge the argument for the being of a God not demonstrative. If the world could have been made by a less than an infinite maker, it could not, of itself, prove there is a God, or an infinite being; and consequently the Deist could never hope to convince the Atheist; for the Deist neither knows of, nor will allow there is, a creature of wisdom and
sufficient to create the world ; that is, to raise the systems of created spirits and matter out of nothing. If, without the aid of revelation, the being of God is to be proved from any thing, or all things, that have been made, we must find the work of creation infinitely too great for the agency of a creature, or a limited being. The truth is, we cannot prove the being of an infinite cause any otherwise, than by an effect acknowledged on all hands impossible without an infinite cause. He who denies the work of creation to be such an effect, totally subverts the argument of an infinite cause, and leaves himself without a natural argument for the being of God. To say, that the infinite first cause may enable a creature to create, by communicating infinite wisdom and power to that creature, is the same as to give up the natural argument for the being of a God; for neither reason, nor the light of nature, points out any such creature to us; nay, reason tells us such a communication is impossible. A creature must be limited in all its attributes and powers. God cannot make a new God, another, or a second, infinite, This implies a contradiction. They who say, he can communicate a limited degree of his wisdom and power, and that such degree may be sufficient for the work of creation, do not consider, that the attributes of God can no more be divided, or parcelled out, than he can himself; that they can
not be limited so as to adapt them to a created nature ; and that the wisdom and power of the creature are only analogous to those of the Creator, by no means the same either in kind or degree. Neither do they consider, that a limited wisdom or power are utterly inadequate to the work of creation; and that to insist they are not inadequate, is to destroy the argument for the being of a God, drawn from that work. It is as much the business of a Christian, as of a Deist, to convince the Atheist of error ; but that Christian can never convince him, who grants the world might have owed its origen to somewhat less than infinite power and wisdom; for, to refute an Atheist, it is not enough to prove the world was made; we must prove it was made by God, which cannot be otherwise done, than by proving no one else could make it.
I have endeavoured to make this kind of proof for the unity of God as clear and familiar to your apprehensions as possible; and yet you see, there is, notwithstanding, so much subtlety in it, as is sufficient to convince us of the extreme difficulty to be surmounted by us in beating out the the proof, had not the point itself, to be proved, been suggested to us by revelation.
As therefore we have reason amply 'sufficient for looking on the Scriptures as the dictates of God himself, who can neither deceive, nor be deceived, we shall take what the Scriptures say on this head for unquestionable proofs, since such they must be to every Christian. It would be endless to cite all the concurrent passages for this purpose;
and therefore I shall only single out a few, wherein the doctrine is most expressly set forth. • Is there,' saith the Lord, speaking by Isaiah in the words of my text, ' a God besides me? Yea, there is no God, I know not any. I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God besides methat they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is none else;' Isa. xlv. 5, 6. •Hearken unto me, o Jacob and Israel my called, I am he, I am the first, I also am the last;' Isa. xlviii. 12. Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord of hosts ; I am
, the first, and I am the last, and besides me there is no God;' Isa. xliv, 6. He lays down his eternity, you see, as an introduction to the belief of his unity. He is the first, he
is the last;' and he therefore is the only God. “Unto thee,' that is, Israel, it was shewed,' saith Moses, Deut. iv. 35, ‘that thoumightest know that the Lord he is God, there is none else besides him.'
Here you may perceive the unity of God is enforced by his own declarations, conceived in the strongest negatives, to the utter exclusion of all other beings from the idea of God. Accordingly the first commandment, together with numberless other places of Scripture, in negatives also, absolutely forbids the worship of every thing else as God; whether by love, by fear, by prayer, by sacrifice, or any other species of adoration. We know'saith St. Paul, ‘that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one;' 1 Cor. viii. 4. If now there is but one God, we cannot be at liberty to worship, or pray to any other being. •Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God,' saith Christ, ' and him only shalt thou serve;' Matt. iv. 10.
In these passages, the first and fundamental article of our faith is fixed, and the sole object of divine worship so restrained, as to leave no subtile or equivocal medium between the adoration of one only eternal God, and gross idolatry. Although we should suppose a creature endued with all the wisdom, goodness, power, and glory, that God himself can bestow on a finite being; and farther still, although we should suppose this creature employed in suffering the greatest misery to procure us the height of happiness; yet, as he is nevertheless but a creature, he must be at an infinite distance from the right object of our worship; and, as he is but the instrument of our happiness, he cannot challenge any degree of that love, wherewith he, who hath made and employs him, ought to be adored.
Who now would imagine, after all that hath been said, or can be said, on this subject, a rational believer in the word of God could once think himself obliged, or barely permitted, to 'worship the creature even as the Creator,' who saith, “I am the Lord, that is my name, and my glory
, will I not give to another ?' Isa. xlii. 8. The word in the original, which is translated by the Lord, is Jehovah; that name whereby he distinguishes himself from all other beings, and which he will no more give, or communicate, to
another, than his glory. And what is this incommunicable glory, which, together with the name, cannot be imparted to any creature? The passage itself shews it to be the honour or glory peculiarly annexed to that name; to wit, divine worship; because he connects the negative, as to his glory, immediately with the declaration of his name; and Tikewise, because he says in the very same verse, neither my praise to graven images.' And why not to graven images, but because they are creatures ? and creatures, though of the highest order, being but creatures infinitely beneath him, cannot share the praise, the glory, the worship due only to the infinite eternal Creator.
But here the pretended Christians, who worship creatures, say, both this name and honour may be, and are imparted to creatures. As to the honour, they tell us, it is conferred, in a certain degree, on angels, kings, &c. when they are -set forth to us in Scripture, as the substitutes of God, as the representatives of his majesty, and the executors of his authority. For this they cite passages by no means applicable to the purpose, there being nowhere in Scripture a single passage, that prescribes any degree of divine worship as due to an angel, or king. Even the respect we are there allowed or commanded to pay them, is, if we attend to the sense of Scripture, to be terminated in him ultimately and only, in whose name, and by whose authority, they minister to us in spiritual, or bear rule in temporal, concerns. Instances so far fetched, and so disingenuously distorted, are not to be brought in contradiction to passages so directly negative, so peremptorily exclusive, as this, of all creature-worship. And as to what the same worshippers of creatures urge, that this name may be, and was, communicated to creatures, inasmuch as God said to his people, Exod. xxiji. 20, 21, Behold, I send an angel before thee to keep thee in the way,' &c. 'Beware of him,' &c. ‘for my name is in him ;' it can by no means serve their turn, till it is first proved, that divine worship is ordered to be paid to this angel, on account of the name that was in him ; which cannot possibly be done. The Israelites are only admonished to beware of him; not to worship him. How does it appear, that he takes upon him to speak in his own person,
or to act as any thing more, than the mere servant and substitute of God ?
The angel, indeed, who appeared to Moses at the burning bush, and was one of those that spoke the law,' Heb. ii. 2, delivers himself in the name, and, as it were, in the person, of Jehovah, who was present also. But if God employed this angel to utter his words, does it follow, that those words were spoken by the angel any otherwise than as the instrument and mouth of God, when it is so evident, that the words neither are, nor can be, the words of any
but God himself?
But if the name Jehovah may be given to a creature, then there is no peculiar name, by which God may be distinguished from his creatures, made known to us by either the light of nature, or Scripture. How far this must contribute to throw our study of the Scriptures into confusion, and tempt us to polytheism, let the sober hearer judge. I must say, for my own part, that, as far as my observation on the Scriptures hath led me, no error, no crime, seems to be so carefully guarded against, as that of idolatry; and surely, if we consider either its beinous and pernicious nature, or the unaccountable controversy before us, none could so much need it; for after all the guards and precautions, after all the threatenings and judgments, wherewith the way to it is barred, we see the worshippers of the true God, who call the Scriptures their only rule of faith, have found the way to hedge in the adoration of creatures under the shelter and sanction of those very Scriptures. This cannot but seem astonishing, beyond all measure, to one who is well acquainted with the word of God, and but little used to the obliquity of human reason, and the perversity of the human heart. The first commandment alone, one should imagine, is sufficient to confine our worship to the one infinite Being, and to fill us with the utmost abhorrence to the thoughts of adoring any inferior or subordinate object whatsoever. This commandment is far from being a simple direction for the worship of the true God: besides this, it prohibits absolutely the worship of any other; and is levelled directly against the polytheism of the pagans, who, together with one supreme, adored a variety of subordinate deities. It was no matter what was worshipped with the