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notion of God, of nature, and of themselves. It is the view which all reasoners unacquainted with revelation have taken of existence; and it is the view into which men have ever a tendency to relapse whenever they trust to their own reason, and are not guided implicitly by revelation in their speculations concerning the Divine Being. There was not the least prospect that the Gentile philosophers could ever have shaken off this error, unless they had been furnished with a strength not their own. All their flights of speculation, all their ceaseless inquiries and discussions, served only to rivet more firmly upon them the maxim that from nothing, nothing could could be produced. No strength of understanding availed them to find out the truth; once departing from the right way, the more rapidly and prosperously they proceeded, the more inextricably they were involved in error; nor was the prospect brighter for any future and distant age. One theory, indeed, rapidly gave place to a succeeding one ; but all theories were erected upon the same false basis, and were merely modifications and expansions of the same fundamental mistake. Nor when invention was exhausted, and new theories ceased to be brought forward, was any approach made to the discovery of the truth. The strength of mind which had expended itself in originality, was, in after ages, employed in defending the errors of others; and the genius of Greece not only proved that the highest efforts of the human mind, when unassisted from on high, were unavailing to find out the true God; but they also enchained the understandings of other nations, and future ages, to submit, in blind acquiescence, to the authority and maxims of Grecian philosophy. If ever truth could have been discovered and excogitated by the human mind itself, it must have been in the favoured times and situation of Greece; the human faculties were then in the full stretch of exertion, and had reached the highest point of enthusiasm and power. The Greeks are far too favourable a sample of the unassisted understanding of man; they were placed in peculiar circumstances by Providence, to show that the mind of man, in its very best estate, is, when trusting to itself, but emptiness and vanity; that there is no true knowledge of nature to be obtained, except by humble and patient investigation; and no true knowledge of God, except by child-like docility, and humble attention, to what He himself is pleased to reveal. Neither in latter days has the mind of man gained in strength, though it has in information; as soon as it departs even now from revelation, though surrounded on all sides by light, it immediately falls into the same darkness, and the same errors. The infidel writers in modern times, as we shall afterwards have occasion to notice, have run into the same absurdities respecting the first cause, and
the nature and origin of existence, without having the knowledge and the sagacity of the Grecian philosophers, to defend and to conceal their blunders. Even those who receive revelation, but who presume to be wise above what is written, the moment they leave the inspired record, and speculate upon things which are not revealed, share also in the common lot, and amply prove, by their weakness and their errors, that it is the Bible, and the Bible alone, where we are to find all our information respecting our author and our end,-respecting the character of God as our Judge and our Saviour, respecting that heavenly inheritance which is awaiting every believer in the Lord Jesus, after death has removed him from this transitory state. IX. The more we consider the highest efforts of the human understanding, the more we shall perceive its feebleness, and the narrow limits which confine it; and the more, also, we shall perceive, with increasing evidence, that the Scriptures are the word of God, and not of man. The very first verse of Genesis is impressed with the stamp of its divine original; the reception of it alone would have overturned all the fundamental errors which perplexed the philosophy of Greece,—and not of Greece only, but of all countries not enlightened by revelation. The Jews had obtained the knowledge of the true God, and with it the principle of true philosophy, which considers nature not as a necessary existence, but as the creature and handmaid of the Almighty, and the laws of nature, not as the unalterable conditions of being, but as the manner in which unchangeable Wisdom operates to confer the highest benefits, and clearly to manifest his preservation and government of the world.
Here we may see the difference between that which is discoverable by reason, and that which is demonstrable by reason when once discovered. None of the reasoners of Greece, by the force of their natural powers, were able to discern that the world was not formed out of pre-existing materials, but that it received the commencement of its being, as well as the mode of it, by the fiat of the divine will. But, after revelation clearly manifested that all things were created by God, many Christian writers, and amongst the rest Dr. Clarke, in his well-known treatise on the divine attributes, has forcibly proved, by the light of reason alone, that the world was not only formed, but created by its Almighty author. This view gives a totally different aspect to all things, and removes the creation to an infinite distance from the Creator. There is no longer any room for the imaginary universe of the pantheists. Jehovah, the self-existent and all-perfect Being, with the worlds which he created, and which he is ever ruling, alone meets our view. Though intimately present with all his works, he is yet entirely distinct from them. In him we live, and move, and have our being. He is infinitely nigh to us, and he is intimately present with us, while we remain infinitely distant from his all-perfect and incommunicable essence.