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some invisible and unknown powers, could be appeased or removed,—this I say is a question which cannot possibly be determined in the affirmative, and must, I would think, be decided in the negative. It cannot be proved that human reason unassisted, could discover the truth on these points, and for this simple reason, that human reason never has been without assistance. In the beginning it had the instruction given by God, actual communion with God, and knowledge of Him, of itself, and of its relations to Him. From the first moment of man's fall, reason was assisted and instructed by the remembrance of what was already known, and by a present and permanent revelation of God's purposes and plans for man's redemption,—the necessity and nature of divine worship,-a coming Saviour, and of the salvation and everlasting life to be obtained through Him. And at sundry times and in divers manners, God has replenished and renewed, and increased the light and knowledge thus originally, and always enjoyed. The traditionary rays of this light shining amid the darkness of human ignorance ever increasing as sin obscured what existed, have been preserved by every nation and kindred, and tongue, and tribe, and people, under the whole heavens. To many there was superadded the direct or indirect light of a positive and present revelation. And to all there were “the invisible things of God clearly understood by the things that are made," when—with the knowledge of God and the disposition to know of God—these were carefully examined. It was with all this light and assistance, and with more or less knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures that the ancient philosophers and sages wrote and spoke what they did on these points. In all that was dark, contradictory and obscure, we see the imperfections, vanity, and perversions of human reason, and in all, in them that was accordant to the truth, we see the reflected light of an existing, or of a traditionary revelation.

Any true, certain and assured knowledge on these subjects, the world by all its wisdom never has attained. What God is, was the question which, the longer "the wisdom of this world" took to answer, the more impossible the answer became. All that philosophers could discover with certainty was what Socrates, the wisest of them, avouched as the great attainment of human wisdom, that God was incomprehensible and that man knew nothing. They all confessed and lamented their ignorance of these things. Plato was sensible of the depravity of human nature, acknowledged the want of a divine guide and earnestly desired such assistance to lead him to the truth. He compared the present condition of the soul to the statue of the sea-god Glaucus, which was partly broken with the waves, and almost covered with shells and stones and weeds. The mind at present, he says, “knows things but as in a dream, and in reality is ignorant of every thing;" and he affirms that he never met with a man who knew what virtue was. The ancients, too, referred all their original knowledge of divine things to the Gods, and to a primitive revelation from them. And when the Athenians inquired of Apollo, as Cicero informs us, what religion they should profess and hold, the oracle answered, “That of their forefathers." And since these were contradictory and various, they inquired again, which, and were answered, "The best.” Even when Thales, Plato, and others, imported among them the purer ideas they had derived from their intercourse with nations in contact with the Jews, reason could not even receive, understand and conform to them. It heard the words, but attached to them no clear and certain ideas. Even Plato, therefore, represents himself as wandering upon the sea of truth, having no certain port to which to steer, no pilot to guide him, and ever tossed about like the waves. And thus we find even in the days of the Apostles, when Paul visited Athens, one of the most prominent objects was a statue "to the unknown God.”

“The whole voice of antiquity agrees in this, that the knowledge of the first cause is a gift of the gods to men.” Even Celsus concluded "That a divine Spirit descended to acquaint the ancient sages with those divine truths they taught the world.” And Jamblichus asserts, “That our weak and frail nature possesses nothing of this knowledge as natural to it."

This one thing is certain, that the earlier we go in our inquiries into the notions of a God among any nation, the clearer they are found, because nearer, we believe, to the original light and purer reflection of revelation. The invariable effect of philosophy and human reason therefore, has been to confuse these ideas to bring men into a state of practical atheism, or at least of scepticism.

Even the more profound thinkers of the Alexandrian school frankly acknowledged the impossibility of a proper proof of the existence of God.*

*See Hagenbach's Hist. of Doctr. vol. i. p. 90, and Clem. of Alex., Strom. v. 12, p. 695 ; ib. in calce et. 696 ; Strom. iv. 25, p. 635; Likewise Origen contra als. viii, 42; (opp. T. J. p. 725,) maintains, in reference to the saying of Plato, that it is difficult to find God. Even the notions of the heathen, concerning the immortality of the soul, were founded on tradition and corrupted by philosophy, as may be seen in Leland's Necessity of Divine Rev. vol. ii, pt. 2, ch. 7, p. 107.

Such was the result to which human reason among the most intellectual and refined nation of the ancient world, and aided too, by all that genius, philosophy, the traditions of primitive revelation and scintillations from existing revelation, could attain. “The world by all its wisdom knew not God."

If from the ancient we turn to the modern world, we find, just as surely as philosophers discard the light of divine revelation,—though their minds are brightened by its influence and their moral code is deduced from its pages,—that nevertheless they run into all the vagaries of rationalism, of transcendantalism, of pantheism, of the worship of genius, or on the other hand, into the depths of superstition.

Even as to the EXISTENCE of God, it is a question of great doubt, whether reason, entirely unassisted, could demonstrate this great truth with any certainty. We see, it is true, in all the works of God, evidences of order, wisdom, and design, from which, by an intuitive principle or power of mind, we infer that there must be a wise and intelligent Being who ordered and designed them all. The events of life, the providence and protection manifested towards all creatures, also lead the mind to the contemplation of a Being "distinct from nature, who conducts and determines what seems to us accidental,” and who is a GOVERNOR as well as an ARCHITECT. The consciousness of a something within us, which thinks, feels, reasons, plans, desires, and loves, leads us still further to believe that there must be a conscious, PERSONAL, benevolent, and allwise God. The sense in man of right and wrong, of the evil of the one and the propriety of the other, of their desert of approbation or disapprobation, rewards or punishments, and the consequent emotions of self-condemnation, or approval, of hope, and fear, joy or sorrow, these feelings in our nature also lead us, irresistibly, to believe in a God who is the Governor and Judge of men, and who, as He has the power, has also the will to punish or reward, according to the actions of His creatures.

Dr. Marehold, the celebrated antagonist of Strauss, in his treatise on Vaticination, $ 4, remarks, after enumerating the various points in which all religions coincide with one another and with revelation,-“I say, we are constrained, without reerence to the holy volume, to adopt the sentiment that the supposition, prevalent for better than a century, of a natural religion, so called, is utterly false, and that all religions have proceeded from a common fountain, viz: ‘from the name of the Lord,' which, when forgotten, righteous Abraham proclaimed again, and therefore as the human race manifests such harmonious doctrines, sages, and customs, as we have shown above, it likewise follows that, whenever in these doctrines sages and customs appear irrational to subjective reason, when torn from mediate experience, has to be acknowledged as rational, because there exists no function in the human mind capable of producing from itself the same religious representations and figures in all ages, all localities, and among all nations. The great minds among the heathen have, at least in part, felt, and humbly laid hold of this truth, that all the talk of subjective reason leads to no result. They therefore adhered to tradition, i. e. to what had been given them, though it had become ever so dim and imperfect.. Hence Socrates says, in the Gorgias of Plato, that he did believe the sages of a spiritual world from tradition alone : and in Cicero's work, D natura Deorum, lib. 3d cap. 17, Cotta answers another philosopher, who had undertaken to demonstrate to him the existence of the gods by arguments drawn from reason: “This single argument suffices me that our ancestors have delivered to us the faith in the immortal gods.

Thus the individual idea, “God," which we meet with among most nations of the earth, does not yet permit us to prove the real existence of God, and to infer hence the rationality of the idea, as the ancient philosophers, an Aristotle, a Plato, a Cicero, and others, believed ; but this historical proof of the existence of God, derived from the unanimous assent of all nations, has in later times been almost unanimously rejected, since we have become better acquainted with the earth and its inhabitants than the ancients were. In this article we agree with our modern philosophers, inasmuch as the idea of God was very indefinite in antiquity, and only admitted the adoption of something higher than man. But the view changes materially, if we consider this general belief of nations as some original revelation, which we shall have to do, so soon as we reflect on the further connecton of their other religious traditions and views with our biblical revelation.-Whitaker's Southern Magazine, Aug. 1852, p. 122.

Such are the sources from which human reason, guided by all the light which science, education and revelation, can throw around it, derives its proofs of the EXISTENCE of God. And undoubtedly, the premises are sound, and the conclusions most rational. But at the same time, it must be admitted, that these arguments require for their appreciation, a very close and rigid analysis, a very candid and impartial inquiry, and a perfect freedom from prejudice and disinclination to the truth.

There are also, it must be admitted, many difficulties, doubts and objections, which present themselves to every one of these conclusions,—“doubts and perplexities which,” it is admitted, by one of the ablest reasoners upon the subject, * “the mind must entertain but which it feels that it cannot solve." “When,” he adds, “the mind is fixed on any one of these groups of arguments, to the exclusion of the others, the conception becomes limited, partial, and so far, erroneous.”+

Beliefs which invariably exist, are those which both rationally and of necessity, we must adopt as primary and fundamental facts, and when it is impossible for us to conceive the

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*Dr. McCosh on the Div. Govt., p. 12. † Do. Do.

negative of such beliefs, we have the highest evidence that they do, and must invariably, exist.Ị Such truths we must regard as the necessary result of the operation of the human mind in its relation to the external world, and to all impressions made upon it from whatever source.

Now, if, as we may assume, this is the only certain criterion of a belief which is universal and necessary to the human mind, then it will follow that the existence of a God is not such. It is not universal, since nations have been found so sunk in barbaric ignorance as not to possess it; since it is only found to prevail in so far as a good degree of general intelligence and traditional knowledge are found to exist; and since when it is found to exist it is not manifested in any uniform belief, as is the reality of the existence of an external world, but in many various modes. And as we can easily conceive of the negation of such a belief, and many philosophers have rejected, and do now reject this belief, we have the most assured evidence that this belief is not universal, or one which the human mind must logically, or of necessity, admit, by any inherent and uninstructed power within itself. In other words, the belief in the existence of a God is not found upon a priori, but upon a posteriori, evidence.

It is further to be remarked, that the predominating character of the present philosophy in France and Germany, and, to some extent, in all ages and countries, is and has been atheistical, either resolving itself into Pantheism, that is, making nature God and God nature, or denying God altogether, and reducing all events to fate, or to unalterable mechanical laws.

In Germany philosophy has either utterly scouted revelation, or it has rejected as a mere form, the text of Scripture, and aimed at creating a new christianity, a new religion, by its own power. In it, therefore, we see what the human mind is capable of when left to itself, even under the guidance of genius. "What had they been doing for twenty years? They had attacked with a sort of phrenzy all the principles on which rest religion, morality, the family, the State, the civil law. Not

If there be, as Mr. Mill holds, certain absolute uniformities in nature; if these uniformities produce, as they must, absolute uniformities in our experience : and if, as he shows, these absolute uniformities in our experience disable us from conceiving the negations of them; then answering to each absolute uniformity in nature which we can cognize, there must exist in us a belief of which the negation is inconceivable, and which is absolutely true.

$See Art. on the Universal Postulate, in the Westminster Review, Oct. 1853.

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