Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

be so mysterious as the existence of God. Yet, although his existence is mysterious, still to believe that God exists, is the foundation of all religion. Mystery then and religion are inseparably connected, and must inevitably proceed with each other.

IV.

It has been urged, “the Being of God is demon“ strable : but, if demonstrable, not mysterious : from “ religion therefore, mystery is excluded."

The Being of God is indeed demonstrable. Demonstrable too are his exalted Attributes ; viz. infinite power, wisdom, goodness, holiness, justice, mercy. We are enabled in our researches to advance so far, as to prove there is a God, and that in God are inherent those divine perfections. But if we presume to attempt investigating the self-originate existence of God, our inquiry is retarded by our ignorance. Filled with awe, and humbled in our minds, we must acknowledge selforiginate existence to be inexplicable, or in other words mysterious. Yet God, whose existence is thus mysterious, must be the adorable object of our religious worship And thus we are brought to our former conclusion, “ mystery and religion are inseparably con“ nected, and must inevitably proceed together.

If it should be replied, “ Although the self-originate “ existence of God is mysterious, yet our religious wor

ship is intelligible, founded as it is in faith, a simple “ act of the mind;" the distinction would avail nothing; the conclusion will remain the same. For, as such existence of God is mysterious, your religious worship has in contemplation an adorable object, whose very

first attribute is mysterious. Religion then and mystery cannot be disunited.

V.

When Simonides was asked his opinion concerning the nature of God, he required a day to be given him for deliberating on the question. On the morrow he was asked a second time. He required two days for deliberation. The question was frequently repeated; and on every repetition he doubled the number of days. Hiero was surprised at this hesitation and delay, and demanded the reason of it. He replied, “ The longer “ I think on this subject, the more obscure it appears." Here then we have, from a man of learning and wisdom, an ingenuous acknowledgment, that the nature of God is incomprehensible to the human mind. And the same confession must every one make, who hath duly considered the limits prescribed to our finite understanding, and who is not afraid to own, that of many things he must be ignorant, till his intellectual

powers shall have been enlarged in the renovation of his nature.

VI.

If at this time we ourselves were asked, “ What is “God ?” we should answer, “ A Spirit.”—“ And what “ is a Spirit ?”“Somewhat which is not material.”— « Of what substance?” Here we are lost. say what God is not ; but are utterly unable to say what he is, with respect to essential substance.

We can

VII.

When we contemplate the extensive scale of existence, and the various degrees which appear in that scale, by reasoning on analogy we are led to suppose, there are as many Orders of Intelligent Beings above Man, as there are classes of irrational creatures below him. The modes of existence and spiritual qualities may be as Beings, as the vital state and animal properties are infinitely various in the subordinate classes of living creatures extending downwards from Man to the zoophyte. That in the Order superlatively exalted above all others in its mode of existence and in its spiritual qualities, Deity should be an inherent attribute, it is by no means unreasonable to imagine.

VIII.

By Deity, or Divinity, or Godhead, we mean an essential nature and a mode of existence the most exalted and most perfect. We ascribe to it eternity and infinity. We connect with it power, wisdom, goodness, and holiness, more than human ; more than angelic; greater than any words of mortals can represent, or thoughts conceive.

That Deity, in the acceptation just given, cannot exist under three Characters; or cannot have originated in One, and from Him have been communicated to other Intelligences indivisibly united with Him in one and the same essential nature; on principles of reason no man can prove. By natural religion we are taught to acknowledge a Sovereign Intelligence; witness the doctrine and appellation of Anaxagoras. Who shall presume to limit the operation of that Supreme Intelligence ?

IX.

It is not to be forgotten, that the Mathematician is conversant with quantity; the Theologian, who conceives there may be a Triad in Godhead, is contemplating Quality. It is not enough for the Mathematician to assert the self-evident truth, that “ three cannot be 6 one in number.If he would convict the Theologian of error, he must demonstrate, that “ three cannot “ be one in nature.He would attempt such demonstration in vain. All parts of the Universe would furnish proofs in contradiction to this paradox.

X.

The Works of Creation demonstrate the existence of Deity exerting itself with unity of design. But they do not demonstrate that Deity and unity of design must therefore necessarily be attributes inherent in one Intelligence only. A human instance will illustrate this. A piece of mechanism curiously constructed to carry on regular motion shews unity of design: but it does not shew that therefore it was the work of one mind only. The design indeed will be one; but the work may have been produced by more minds, all co-operating in the same design.

XI.

The Peripatetics and later Platonists maintained that the World was eternal. It is as natural for Man to suppose, and as easy for the human mind to conceive, the eternal existence of three spiritual Intelligences indivisibly united in one substance, divine in essential nature and attributes, as to suppose and conceive the eternal existence of the World. It was not thought that violence was offered to the human apprehension by those Philosophers : it should not be thought such violence is offered by a Theologian, who maintains an eternal Triad in Deity.

Whether one or both of these suppositions may be erroneous, is not here the question. The only point at present maintained is, that according to the natural apprehensions of man in the first instance, and antecedently to Revelation, one of these ideas can be

XII.

reason.

The eternity of the World we prove to be a doctrine erroneous from what we know concerning the properties of Matter. The eternity of three spiritual Intelligences in quality of one Godhead, we cannot prove to be a doctrine erroneous, because we have no sufficient knowledge of spirituality and essentially divine nature. We have, therefore, in this case, no ground on which to

If we talk of our own conceptions, and make them the standard of what may be correct and what may be erroneous, we must confess, if after the deepest examination we would speak ingenuously, we can no more form an adequate conception how One should exist from Eternity, than how Three should exist from Eternity. We can adequately conceive neither case. And, supposing the generic Unity of Divine Essence asserted, then there is no argument which will tend to disprove the eternal existence of Three in that essence, which will not go to disprove the eternal existence of One. So that, without great care, metaphysical reasoners against a Trinity in the one Godhead will prove too much, unless they mean to prove there can be no such thing as eternal existence, either in any Quality, or in any Being.

XIII.

It would be Tritheism, if we should maintain a Triplicity of divine Intelligences, each diversified in different and opposite essential natures, different and opposite powers, different and opposite wills, different and opposite counsels, different and opposite energies. But it would not be Tritheism, if we should maintain that three divine Intelligences exist, being all of the same essential nature, the same power, the same will, the same counsel, the same energies : for, by maintaining

« EdellinenJatka »