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1. THE EXISTENCE OF A SUPREME BEING
1. We can infer from the created world around us that there exists a supreme Being.
We cannot see the souls of men, but we can infer their existence by a process of reasoning; so it is with the existence of God.
The heavens and the earth could not have come into existence of themselves; nor could the heavenly bodies move through space by their own power.
We infer, when we see footprints in the snow, that some one has passed that way; so we infer from the things around us that there exists a supreme Being. The planets could no more have come into existence of themselves than a town could be built of itself. The astronomer Kirchner had a friend who doubted the existence of God. He had a globe made and placed in his study. His friend came to see him one day and asked where the globecame from. Kirchner answered that it made itself. When his friend laughed at such an answer, Kirchner replied, “It would be much easier for a little globe like that to make itself than the great one on which we live.” A light cannot kindle itself, and after it is kindled it will go out in a few hours. But the heavens are lighted by the glorious light of the sun, which has burned for many thousands of years without losing any of its brightness. Look at the millions of the stars. Who made them all, and caused them to illumine the night? The Psalmist truly says “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows forth the work of His hands” (Ps. xviii. 2). The great astronomer Newton used always to uncover and bow his head when the name of God was mentioned. We may also infer the existence of God from the creatures on the earth. Thus Job says “Ask now the beasts and they shall teach thee; and the birds of the air, and they shall tell thee. Speak to the earth and it shall answer thee; and the fishes of the sea shall tell. Who is ignorant that the hand of the Lord hath made all these things?” (Job xii. 7-9.) If any one were to find a beautiful marble statue on a desert island, he would say without any hesitation that men had been there. If one were to say that the wind and rain had torn it from the mountain side, and given it its form, we should count him as a fool. A greater fool is he who asserts that this wondrous world had no Creator.
The wonderful arrangement and order of the world also leads us to infer that it has been framed by an Architect of surpassing skill.
If a ship sails on its way and arrives safely at its destination, we conclude that it had a clever pilot. To say that the stars of the heaven of themselves direct their course, is as foolish as it would be to say that a ship had started from New York, sailed round the world, and returned safely without any one to guide it. Cicero said long ago, “When we contemplate the heavens, we arrive at the conviction that they are all guided by a Being of surpassing skill.” In all that is upon the earth we see traces of design and of a most wise Designer in the construction of the bodies of animals, and of the bodies of men, in the succession of the seasons, in trees and plants. The adaptation of means to ends in the human eye, the ear, and the various parts of the body, all imply an adapting intelligence, just as the adaptation of a watch to indicate the time, or the building of a house to shelter us, implies an intelligent constructor. As it would be impossible that the letters of the alphabet should be grouped together by mere chance in the order of the “Iliad,” so it is impossible that the arrangements of the universe could have come about by chance, and without the knowledge and direction of a mighty intelligence.
All the nations of the earth have an inner conviction of the existence of a supreme Being.
Among all nations, even the most degraded, we find invariably the worship of some kind of deity. We find towns without walls, without a ruler, without laws, without coin, but never without some sort of temple, without prayer, without sacrifice. Now, universal consent is a mark of truth. The belief in God is an inner conviction, which may be said to be inborn, inasmuch as every one can arrive at it with the. greatest ease.
Only the fool says in his heart: there is no God (Ps. xiii. 1).
Those who say that there is no God in spite of the glories of creation which they see around them, are those of whom Our Lord says that “seeing they perceive not, and hearing they do not understand” (Mark iv. 12). Such men are called atheists or infidels. They are invariably men who either are eaten up with pride or live vicious lives, or both. “He who denies the existence of God,” says St. Augustine, “has some reason for wishing that God did not exist.” Atheists, for the most part, use language which is at variance with their real convictions. Many of them are the first to cry to God for help when they are in some imminent danger. Their bold talk means very little. They are like boys who whistle in the dark to show that they are not afraid. God will take atheists at their word one day and will show Himself no loving God for them. So He took at their word those of the Israelites who doubted His power to give them victory over their enemies and possession of the Promised Land. They died before they entered it (Numb. xiv. 28-32).
2. The existence of God is also proved from revelation.
God has at sundry times and in divers manners spoken to men (Heb. i. 1), and has given them a knowledge of Himself. To Moses He appeared in the burning bush, and called Himself the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; to distinguish Himself from the false gods, He gives to Himself the name of “the self-existent One,” or “I am Who am” (Exod. iii. 14). So in giving the law on Sinai He says, “I am the Lord your God. Thou shalt have none other gods beside Me” (Deut. v. 6, 7). God also worked miracles at various times in proof of His existence, e.g., by sending down fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice of Elias on Carmel (3 Kings xviii. 24, seq.), by saving Daniel from the lions at Babylon, and the three young men from the fiery furnace.
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2. THE DIVINE ESSENCE
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