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man, the GIFT OF REASON; and having endeavored to force upon himself the belief of a system against which reason revolts, he ungratefully calls it human reason, as if man could give reason to himself.
Yet, with all this strange appearance of humility, and this contempt for human reason, he ventures into the boldest presumptions ; he finds fault with everything; his selfishness is never satisfied; his ingratitude is never at an end. He takes on himself to direct the Almighty what to do, even in the government of the universe; he prays dictatorially; when it is sunshine he prays for rain, and when it is rain he prays for sunshine; he follows the same idea in everything that he prays for; for what is the amount of all his prayers, but an attempt to make the Almighty change his mind, and act otherwise than he does? It is as if he were to say: Thou knowest not so well as I.
But some perhaps will say: Are we to have no word of God-no revelation? I answer: Yes, there is a word of God; there is a revelation.
THE WORD OF GOD IS THE CREATION WE BEHOLD: And it is in this word, which no human invention can counterfeit or alter, that God speaketh universally to man.
It is only in the Creation that all our ideas and conceptions of a word of God can unite. The Creation speaketh an universal language, independently of human speech or human language, multiplied and various as they be. It is an ever-existing original, which every man can read. It cannot be forged; it cannot be counterfeited; it cannot be lost; it cannot be altered; it cannot be suppressed. It does not depend upon the will of man whether it shall be published or not; it publishes itself from one end of the earth to the other. It preaches to all nations and to all worlds; and this word of God reveals to man all that is necessary for man to know of God.
Do we want to contemplate his power? We see it in the immensity of the Creation. Do we want to contemplate his wisdom? We see it in the unchangeable order by which the incomprehensible whole is governed. Do we want to contemplate his munificence? We see it in the abundance with which he fills the earth. Do we want to contemplate his mercy? We see it in his not withholding that abundance even from the unthankful. In fine, do we want to know what God is? Search not the book called the Scripture, which any human hand might make, but the Scripture called the Creation.
The only idea man can affix to the name of God, is that of a first cause, the cause of all things. And, incomprehensible and difficult as it is for a man to conceive what a first cause is, he arrives at the belief of it, from the tenfold greater difficulty of disbelieving it. It is difficult beyond description to conceive that space can have no end; but it is more difficult to conceive an end. It is difficult beyond the power of man
to conceive an eternal duration of what we call time; but it is more impossible to conceive a time when there shall be no time.
The celestial exotic struck deep in the ground,
Like a native it flourished and bore;
To seek out this peaceable shore.
For freemen like brothers agree;
And their temple was Liberty Tree.
Beneath this fair tree, like the patriarchs of old,
Their bread in contentment they ate
The cares of the grand and the great.
And supported her power on the sea;
For the honor of Liberty Tree.
But hear, O ye swains, 'tis a tale most profane,
How all the tyrannical powers,
To cut down this guardian of ours;
Through the land let the sound of it flee,
In defence of our Liberty Tree.
THE STUDY OF GOD.
(A Discourse delivered to the Society of Theophilanthropists at Paris.] ELIGION has two principal enemies, Fanaticism and Infidelity, or
that which is called atheism. The first requires to be combated by reason and morality, the other by natural philosophy.
The existence of a God is the first dogma of the Theophilanthropists.
The universe is the Bible of a true Theophilanthropist. It is there that he reads of God. It is there that the proofs of his existence are to be sought and to be found.
As to written or printed books, by whatever name they are called, they are the works of man's hands, and carry no evidence in themselves that God is the author of any of them. It must be in something that man could not make that we must seek evidence for our belief, and that something is the universe; the true Bible; the inimitable work of God.
Contemplating the universe, the whole system of creation, in this point of light, we shall discover that all that which is called natural philosophy is properly a divine study. It is the study of God through his works. It is the best study by which we can arrive at a knowledge of his existence, and the only one by which we can gain a glimpse of his perfection.
Do we want to contemplate his power? We see it in the immensity of the creation. Do we want to contemplate his wisdom? We see it in the unchangeable order by which the incomprehensible whole is governed. Do we want to contemplate his munificence? We see it in the abundance with which he fills the earth. Do we want to contemplate his mercy? We see it in his not withholding that abundance even from the unthankful. In fine, do we want to know what God is? Search not written or printed books, but the scripture called the Creation.
It has been the error of the schools to teach astronomy, and all the other sciences and subjects of natural philosophy, as accomplishments only; whereas they should be taught theologically, or with reference to the Being who is the author of them: for all the principles of science are of divine origin. Man cannot make, or invent, or contrive principles. He can only discover them; and he ought to look through the discovery to the Author.
When we examine an extraordinary piece of machinery, an astonishing pile of architecture, a well executed statue, or a highly finished painting, where life and action are imitated, and habit only prevents our mistaking a surface of light and shade for cubical solidity, our ideas are naturally led to think of the extensive genius and talents of the artist. When we study the elements of geometry, we think of Euclid. When
we speak of gravitation, we think of Newton. How then is it, that when we study the works of God in the creation, we stop short, and do not think of God? It is from the error of the schools in having taught those subjects as accomplishments only, and thereby separated the study of them from the Being who is the author of them.
The schools have made the study of. theology to consist in the study. of opinions in written or printed books; whereas theology should be studied in the works or books of the creation. The study of theology in books of opinions has often produced fanaticism, rancor, and cruelty of temper; and from hence have proceeded the numerous persecutions, the fanatical quarrels, the religious burnings and massacres that have desolated Europe. But the study of theology in the works of the creation produces a direct contrary effect. The mind becomes at once enlightened and serene; a copy of the scene it beholds: information and adoration go hand in hand; and all the social faculties become enlarged.
The evil that has resulted from the error of the schools in teaching natural philosophy as an accomplishment only, has been that of generating in the pupils a species of atheism. Instead of looking through the works of the creation to the Creator himself, they stop short, and employ the knowledge they acquire to create doubts of his existence. They labor with studied ingenuity to ascribe everything they behold to innate properties of matter; and jump over all the rest, by saying that matter is eternal.
Born in Philadelphia, Penn., 1737. Died there, 1791.
SOME SATIRICAL DISTINCTIONS.
[“ Translation of a Letter, written by a Foreigner on his Travels.” The Miscellaneous
Essays and Occasional Writings of Francis Hopkinson, Esq. 1792.] THIS THIS best of all kings has now turned his attention to America.
There he had three millions of subjects who loved, honored and obeyed him. He governed them by officers of his own appointment; he had the whole regulation of their commerce; and the overflowings of their wealth were conducted, by easy channels, into his coffers, and into the purses of the merchants and manufacturers of his kingdom. But he has quarrelled with these loyal and beneficial subjects, because they are so obstinate that they will not acknowledge that two and two make five. Whole volumes have been written on this subject, and all the force