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affirm that the heavens and the earth, the variety of seasons and the numberless blessings we enjoy are clear testimonies to the majesty, wisdom, power, and goodness of God; that no other Being in the universe can be the proper object of religious adoration; and that to give that adoration to any other being is ingratitude and idolatry. But this is all. The substance of the apostle's preaching was, that the heathen “should turn from these vanities,” that is from giving divine honors to these creatures, "unto the living God." In the opinion of the Apostle, therefore, the book of nature did not of itself reveal God to man. It is a noble testimony to the truth of God's nature and existence when once revealed. It makes evident the necessity of those divine perfections, which characterize God, and of which, because otherwise invisible, God had been pleased to make a revelation. But as rain falling on the desert, does not render it fruitful, no more did these glorious phenomena though constantly presented to the view of man, either suggest, secure, or restore to mankind the knowledge of God's existence, attributes, and will. In confirmation of this view of the apostolic teaching it will be borne in mind that they did know of the existence of the Gods, was taught them by nature. Plato always ascribed it to a divine communication and affirmed that it “is the gift of the gods to men.” And in his Theages, he declares that "the gods give this knowledge to none but such as are their friends, and therefore not indiscriminately to all who behold the heavens. More than once he also draws an analogy and similitude, betwixt the light of the sun and the knowledge of God. As the eye cannot contemplate the sun but by its own light, so neither can the mind contemplate the toov, i. e., God, without some idea or beam of this chiefest good, "which (he adds) is the cause of all truth." The comparison is just as correct, as it is beautiful: since the mind knows intellectual things, as the eye does visible ones, by the interposition of a proper organ and sufficient light. While therefore the sun is neither the sight nor the eye, and yet is the means whereby the eye sees even the sun itself, and thus God is neither the human mind, reason or understanding; and yet he is the immediate and sole cause of all spiritual knowledge to man; that ineffable light, which alone can open man's mind to contemplate the invisible glories of the divine nature, and hence also if the sun could not be perceived but by the light which he himself affords, much less could God, to whom the glory of the heavenly orbs is no more to be compared than a glow-worm, or spark of fire be known or understood but by His own revelation of himself to man. Now there are but two revelations given to mortals, by which the mind is enabled to comprehend invisible things, and those are nature and grace, the works and word of God. God is revealed in them both. But God is not understood in both. Indeed, neither can he be perfectly understood by the natural reason. This cannot comprehend God, “because he is spiritually discerned.” Nature explains, declares and illustrates, but cannot reveal or disclose her Creator. She cannot enlighten the intellectual eye. The word and spirit of God, are the only light that can open the eyes of the blind, and lead them to a full and perfect acknowledgment of the truth. God is and must be his own revealer. Matter and motion can only declare his being, as the herald does a king by proclaiming his august titles. When his existence and perfections are already manifested then indeed the works of nature attest the truth of the one and the exceeding greatness of the other. When the foundation is laid sure and firm that there is a God, and his will the cause of all things, and that nothing is made but by his special appointment and command, then the works of nature will fill men's minds with a due sense of the divine majesty and will exalt the mind to juster conceptions of what is in itself incomprehensible and invisible. Every thing around us, or that has any relation to us will then become helps to the better discernment of "things not seen."*

By tradition and intercourse with other nations among whom the Jewish people were scattered, Plato and Socrates and other ancient philosophers attained to some knowledge of a God. But so far was this from being the results of their own reason, that their utmost reason could not clearly or tenaciously retain the idea. God was still to them “the unknown God.” “When we speak,” says Plato, “of the nature of God, and the creation of the universe, we ought to be content, if what we offer be but probable; for more than that is not to be required; for it must be remembered that, I who speak, and you who are hearers, are but men, and if we can only attain some probable fable or tradition of these things, we may not enquire further about them.” "If,” says Shuckford, "the knowledge of God and his nature were discoverable by reason, and brought to light by a due course of thinking, and then related to their children; what were the traces of this reasoning? where to be found? or, how were they lost? "Tis strange these things should be so obvious at first, that an early attempt should discover so much truth, and that all the wit and learning that came after, for five or six thousand years, should instead of improving it, only puzzle and confound it. If Adam, or some other person of extraordinary learning, had by a chain of reasoning brought these truths into the world, some hints or other of the argument would have remained, as well as the truths produced by it; or some succeeding author would, at one time or other, have reasoned as fortunately as his predecessor; but nothing of this sort happened, instead of it we find that the early ages had a great stock of truth, which they were so far from having learning enough to invent or discover, that they could not so much as give a good account of the true meaning of many of them. A due consideration of which must lead us to believe, that God at first revealed these things unto men, acquainted them of what he had done in the creation of the world, which they communicated to their children's children. "It cannot be accounted for any other way, this is what ancient history and the state of knowledge, obliges us to believe."

*Ellis's Divin. Things, p. 404 and 406.

While therefore the wiser of the Grecians, it must be admitted, knew there was a God, nevertheless who or what God was they never knew. They did not know where to find, nor what to make of God. What he really is, was to them a profound mystery. With all their natural and acquired wisdom they could not therefore, attain any right idea or notion of God, either as to his existence or his nature. They were in a state of ignorance. The TRUE GOD was unknown to them. They rendered an ignorant worship to an unknown God, and the only real worship they paid was to Demons.* Thus as the Apostle says in his epistle to the Galatians (4:8, 9,) “When they knew not God, they did service unto them which by nature are no Gods."

The declaration of the Psalmist that "the heavens declare the glory of God” cannot mean that they actually convey the true knowledge of the true God to every beholder. This would be in plain contradiction to the fact that then, and always, among the heathen these very heavens were regarded as eternal, and that the very idea of a creation and a Creator was unknown to their philosophy.* They attributed creation to chance, matter combination of atoms, laws of motion, in short, to every thing, and to any thing, or to nothing, rather than to God. These few words "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" contain more true wisdom than all the volumes of ancient philosophy. To the mind which has been enlightened with the knowledge of God, and by such only was the psalm intended to be used, the heavens declare his glory and the firmament his handy work. But far different is the case with the unbelieving and ignorant minds. To these as well as believers, the heavens shine and the firmament displays its wonders. “For them” also, as the apostle declares, quoting the words of this very Psalm, “their sound has gone unto all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the earth.” But of every unenlightened human being, the apostle also declares (Rom. 10: 14, 15), "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed, and how shall they believe on him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach except they be sent ?" The heavenly bodies had an effect quite contrary to that, which they are supposed by some, necessarily to produce, on the ancient philosophers. These very heavens instead of leading them to the knowledge of God, led them away from God, and led them to make Gods of the sun, moon, and stars. This was perhaps the earliest and most prevalent form of ancient idolatry. And even now the study of nature without the guidance of divine revelation, and the divine spirit, leads only to a rationalistic Pantheistic, and dreamy sentimentality, and poetic religion.

*This was the practice of Socrates, whose last act was to offer a sacrifice to Æsculapius.

The Psalmist speaks, therefore, of the intended, and not of the actual effect of the heavens, and the firmament. He speaks of their influence upon religious minds and as a means of strengthening and awakening sentiments of devotion in every believing heart. The Spirit of God also expressly declares that, “through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God.” Reason, therefore, could never so much as have known that the worlds were created, had not God communicated it, and there cannot be a greater absurdity than to say that man can find out God by the works of creation. Yet cannot find that creation is the work of God.

*See on this page an able disourse by Dr. Willat on the Religion of Nature and Idol. in the Schol. Arm., vol. 1, p. 174; also Dr. Ellis's Knowl. of Div. Things, p. 302.

5-Vol. IX.

We may therefore, conclude in the words of the book of wisdom, “Surely vain are all men by nature, who are ignorant of God and could not out of the good things that are seen know him that is neither by considering the work did they acknowledge the workmaster, but deemed either fire, &c., or the light of heaven to be the gods which govern the world." Nor did the heathen ever imagine that what they knew of the existence of the Gods and taught them by nature.*

*See also 2 Peter 3 and 5; and Ps. 33: 6.

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