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our senses, when in order, never deceive
The foregoing sense of Deity is not the only evidence we have of his existence : there is additional evidence from other branches of our nature. Inherent in the nature of man are two passions, devotion to an invisible Being, and dread of punishment from him, when one is guilty of any crime. These passions would be idle and absurd, were there no Deity to be worshipped or to be dreaded. Man makes a capital figure; and is the most perfect being that inhabits this earth: and yet were he endued with passions or principles that have no end nor purpose, he would be the most irregular and absurd of all Beings. These passions both, of them, direct us to a Deity, and afford us irresistible evidence of his existence.
Thus our Maker has revealed himself to us, in a way perfectly analagous to our nature : in the mind of every human creature, he has lighted up a lamp, which renders him vifible even to the weakest fight. Nor ought it to escape observation, that here, as in every other case, the conduct of Providence to man, is uniform. It leaves him to be directed by reason, where liberty of choice is permitted ; but in matters of duty, he is provided with guides less fallible than reason : in performing his duty to man, he is guided by the moral sense ; in performing his duty to God, he is guided by the sense of Deity. In these mirrors, he perceives his duty intuitively.
It is no flight fupport to this doctrine, that if there really be a Deity, it is highly presumable, that he will reveal himself to man, fitted by nature to adore and worship him.
To other animals, the knowledge of a Deity is of no import
to man, it is of high import
Were we totally ignorant of a Deity, this world would appear to us a mere chaos : under the government of a wise and benevolent Deity, chance is excluded;
every event appears to be the result of established laws: good men submit to whatever happens, without repining; knowing that every event is ordered by divine Providence: they submit with entire resignation; and such refignation is a sovereign balsam for every misfortune. Сс2
The sense of Deity resembles our other senses, which are quiescent till a proper object be presented. When all is filent about
the sense of hearing lies dormant; and if from infancy a man were confined to a dark room, he would be as ignorant of his sense of seeing, as one born blind, Among favages, the objects that rouse the sense of Deity, are uncommon events above the power of man. .
A savage, if acquainted with no events but what are familiar, has no perception of superior powers; but a sudden eclipse of the fun, thunder rattling in his ears, or the convulsion of an earthquake, rouses his fenfe of Deity, and directs him to some superior being as the cause of these dreadful effects. The favage, it is true, errs in ascribing to the immediate operation of a Deity, things that have a natural cause : his error however is evidence that he has a sense of Deity, no less pregnant, than when he more justly attributes to the immediate operation of Deity, the formation of
man, of this earth, of all the world,
The sense of Deity, like the moral sense, makes no capital figure among savages ; the perceptions of both fenfes being in
them faint and obscure. But in the
progress of nations to maturity, these senses become more and more vigorous, so as among enlightened nations to acquire a commanding influence; leaving no doubt about right and wrong, and as little about the existence of a Deity.
The obfcurity of the sense of Deity de mong favages, has encouraged fome sceptical philosophers to deny its existence. It has been urged, That God does nothing by halves; and that if he had intended to make himself known to men, he would have afforded them conviction equal to that from seeing or hearing. When we argue thus about the purposes of the Almighty, we tread on flippery ground, where we feldom fail to stumble. What if it be the purpose of the Deity, to afford us but an obscure glimpse of his being and attributes? We have reason from analogy to conjecture, that this may be the cafe. From some particulars mentioned above (c), it appears at least probable, that entire submission to the moral sense, would be ill-suited to man in his present ftate; and would prove inore hurtful than
(a) Book 2. fkctch sa
beneficial, beneficial. And to me it appears evident, that to be conscious of the presence of the Great God, as I am of a friend whom I hold by the hand, would be inconsistent with the part that Providence has destined me to act in this life. Reflect only on the restraint one is under, in presence of a superior, suppose the King himself: how much greater our restraint, with the fame lively impression of God's awful presence ! Humility and veneration would leave no room for other passions : man would be no longer man; and the system of our present state would be totally subverted, Add another reason: Such a conviction of future rewards and punishments as to overcome every inordinate desire, would reduce us to the condition of a traveller in a paltry inn, having no wish but for daylight to prosecute his journey. For that very reason, it appears evidently the plan of Providence, that we fhould have but an obfcure glimpse of futurity. As the same plan of Providence is visible in all, I conclude with assurance, that a certain degree of obscurity, weighs nothing against the sense of Deity, more than an gainst the moral sense, or against a fu