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Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at mid-
The Folly of Atheism.
PSALM xiv. 1.
The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God: They are corrupt; they have done abominable works; there is none that doth good.
HE first clause in this verse, correctly rendered, might be read thus; "The fool hath said in his heart, NO GOD." It may be understood to express a wish that there were no God, as well as an opinion, that there is none. And, indeed, such an opinion always presupposes the wish. No man ever disbelieved the existence of a Deity, unless his heart was previously disaffected to the character and government of the Deity.
There are few men, who are settled in the persuasion, that there is no God; but there are many, who in their hearts wish there were none; or none who hates sin, and will punish sinners. This op position of heart is the ground of speculative unbelief. The reason, why fools say, There is no God, is because they are corrupt, and have done abominable works. If there is a God, he must be perfect; VOL. IV. B
he must approve of righteousness and hate wicked, ness; consequently the workers of iniquity must be exposed to punishment. Hence in their hearts they wish, there were no God, and labor to believe, there is none.
We will inquire, to whom the charge in the text may be applied: And then we will shew their folly. I. We will, first inquire, To whom the charge in the text may be applied.
1. If there are any who really disbelieve, and directly deny the existence of a God, these stand foremost in the class of Atheists. It is a question, however, whether there can be many, if there are any, of this description. The effects which we see, lead us up to the first cause; and this cause must be etermal, independent, intelligent, and powerful; must possess all perfections; that is, must be God. Lut then, it is one thing to believe in God, as the original creator and constant preserver of the natural world; and another thing to believe in him, as the righteous governor of the intellectual and moral world. There are some, who, while they acknowledge him in the former character, deny him in the latter. To say, that there is no invisible power, which made and sustains the universe, is, in effect, to say, that the universe is eternal, or the product of fate or chance. This is too absurd and unphilosophical for a thinking man to admit. But then there are those, who deny a future state of retribution, and profess to believe, that all men, if they exist at all, will be happy after death, whatever may have been their previous character. These though theists in a philosophical sense, are in a moral sense atheists. To say that God regards not our conduct, and will make no discrimination between characters, nor dispense rewards or punishments in a future world, comes exactly to the same thing, in a