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THE GOD OF THE CHRISTIAN AND THE GOD OF THE INFIDEI.
Psalm lxxxvi. 8. Among the gods, there is none like unto thee, O Lord.
The existence of a God is a fundamental principle of all religion. The mind, whenever this doctrine is presented to it
, instantly perceives that it is grasping an idea of immense importance; and that, before it has paused to survey its momentous and infinitely extended bearings. But when considered in its relations to the material and the immaterial world, to every object in the wide range of thought, it gathers an interest which the mind, in its loftiest aspirings, is inadequate to comprehend; being a sort of dividing line between the territories of light and the territories of darkness;
between a region illumined by the acknowledgment of the active presence of a God, and a region over which hang the clouds, and shadows, and curses of Atheism.
But it must be acknowledged that, while the existence of a God lies at the foundation of all religion, this momentous truth derives much of its importance from the character which is attributed to him. Laying out of view the gods of the heathen, to which our text may be supposed to have had especial reference, we all know that the Supreme Being has been invested with a variety of character by those who have professed their belief in the spirituality of his nature. I purpose in this discourse to bring before you the God of the infidel, and the God of the Christian ; and to inquire which is most likely to exalt the character of man ; which best adapted to meet his necessities.
1. Let us compare the God of the infidel and the God of the Christian.
1. The infidel's God is a being of uncertuin attributes : the character of the Christian's God is fixed and certain.
If you cast an eye through the records of deism, you can hardly fail to be struck with the fact that there are scarcely two individuals who acknowledge the same God. Some of them have conceived of the divine Being in a manner imperfect indeed, but in some degree just; have uttered sublime senti
VOL. VII. -No. 7
ments both in respect to his attributes and his works, and have even seemed to feel some lofty aspirations in contemplating his character. There are others whose conceptions on this subject are more inadequate and gross, and who, while they profess to acknowledge the spirituality of God, invest him with properties or attribute to him actions which are scarcely consistent with it. And there are others still, who, though they will admit in the general the divine existence, yet seem scarcely to recognise the difference between nature and nature's God; leaving it doubtsul on which side they stand of the line that divides deism from atheism. And not only is there a sad disagreement on this subject between different individuals, but the views of the same individual are often, in a high degree, inconsistent and contradictory. I say then that the infidel's God is a being to whom no fixed character belongs. Some things indeed on this subject all infidels hold in common; but there are so many particulars in which they disagree, and withal so much self-contradiction, that if we should attempt to describe minutely the object of the infidel's professed homage, we should seem to describe not one God but “ gods many."
Not so with the being whom the Christian worships. Whether we look at each of the various attributes of which his character is composed, or at the whole in glorious combination, we see the indubitable impress of certainty. There is much indeed in this character, which the human mind is, and for ever will be, too limited to grasp ; nevertheless, so far as its knowledge extends, it is accurate and certain. Hence we find that in every clime, in every age, the God whom Christians adore is the same ;--" the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever."
Nor is this difference between the God of the infidel and the God of the Christian difficult to be accounted for. For the infidel depends for his knowledge solely upon the deductions of bis own reason; a guide which is osten bewildered or bribed through the influence of passion ; and which in its best state sheds but an imperfect light on the character of the Highest. The Christian, on the other hand, has the object of his supreme homage faithfully described ;-described by the very hand of Almighty God: and the description is so plain that an honest mind can never mistake it. Is it strange that the infidel's God should have no fixed character, when it is left to human reason to decide what his character is ? Or is it strange that the Christian's God should be everywhere and at all times the same, when it is remembered that his character is matter of infallible record ?
2. The God of the infidel is little more than a mere distant spectator of erents : the God of the Christian is everywhere, in the exercise of a sustain. ing, controlling and all-gracious energy.
The being whom the infidel calls God, if we can believe the infidel's own representations, reposes in a kind of indolent majesty, exercising but little regard towards the works of his hands. He is indeed supposed to have established some general laws for the government of his creation ; but these laws are commonly spoken of in a manner which scarcely seems to imply a lawgiver, and as if they were left to execute themselves. It may be admitted that he takes some cognizance, and exercises some interest in respect to the grander events which occur both in the physical and moral world ; that he keeps the planets in their orbits, and guides the revolutions of empires : but with the lesser and every-day concerns of life it is supposed that he has little