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They also who deny the doctrine of the Trinity are chargeable with atheism. For God has clearly revealed in his word that there are three distinct persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, subsisting in the divine essence. They therefore who deny that there are three distinct persons in the Godhead; or who deny the divinity of the Son and the Holy Ghost, deny the true God.For the true God is, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, three distinct and co-equal persons in one essence. Such persons make God to be something different from what he really is, and deny the true God; and are therefore chargeable with atheism. Again, they who deny any of the divine perfections, are chargeable with atheism, for they rob God of what is essential to his being. There have been some who professedly denied the omniscience of God; and some such persons may perhaps still be found. Thus we read, Ps. LXXiii. 11, of some who said"How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High? "and Ps. xciv. 7. "The Lord shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it." Such are guilty of atheism. There are also some who professedly deny his almighty power. Thus did the Israelites, when in the wilderness. Ps. Lxxviii. 19. 20. "They spake against God; they said can God furnish a table in the wilderness? can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for his people?" Such are guilty of atheism. There are some again who professedly, or by implication deny the divine holiness and justice. Such are they who deny the atonement of Christ, and the necessity of an interest in his righteousness for salvation; who suppose that God will not punish sin; and who presume upon his mercy without holiness of heart and life. The language of such sentiments is that God is not infinitely holy and just. Such persons also are chargeable with atheism.
The foregoing atheistical sentiments arise from different causes. They may however all be traced to depravity of heart as their primary cause. Men do not like to retain the true knowledge of the true God in their minds; therefore they form to themselves an idea of a God more congenial to their wishes, than is the true character of the true God. Pride is one great cause of many wrong sentiments respecting the character of the true God. Another fruitful cause is ignorance. And here I would remark that
ignorance, while it often leads to atheistical sentiments, is itself a breach of the first commandment and a great sin.
The sentiment which has been frequently advanced and cherished, that ignorance is the mother of devotion, is dangerous and wicked. Ignorance, so far from being favorable to religion, has been a fruitful source of error, superstition, and wickedness. To know God is a duty required in the first commandment, and the want of this knowledge is a sin against this commandment; and ignorance of the truths of religion, especially in us who have so many means of information, is agreat sin.
II. To consider practical atheism. There are very few professed atheists, who openly deny the being of a God. There are many however, who hold some of the sentiments of which we have been speaking, and which are a denial of the being of the true God. But even of this kind of atheists, we have reason to believe there are, in a christian land, but few, compared with the kind of which we are about to speak. Practical atheists are numerous in our world. By a practical atheist we mean one, who while he professes to believe that there is a God; and that he is such a God as he has revealed himself to be, and really is, nevertheless does not worship and glorify this true God as God, and as his God; but lives as though there were no God, or by his conduct contradicts what he professes to believe.
To give a particular description of all the conduct in which practical atheism discovers itself, would be to bring into view every sin, which would require a volume instead of a single sermon; we can therefore only make a few general remarks on this subject.
If there be a God, and he be what he is, he ought to be frequently in our thoughts. Forgetfulness of God is therefore practical atheism. For what is this but practically saying God is not that glorious and worthy being
which he is?
If there be a God, and he be what he is, he ought to be known; for we are most intimately concerned to know him, and he is an object infinitely worthy to be known.Ignorance of God is therefore practical atheism. For what, is this, but practically saying that God is not so worthy as he is, and that it does not concern us what he is?
If there be a God and he be what he is, it is certainly our duty to fear him; and the want of this fear is practi cal atheism, as it is a practical denial of his power to punish disobedience. It is also our duty, in view of the divine character to act with sincerity, and to act always as in the presence of God. And to be insincere in our professions, and to do in secret what we would not do openly, are practical atheism, as they are a practical denial, that God searches the heart, and is omniscient and omnipresent. Hypocrisy is therefore practical atheism.
If there be a God, and he be what he is, it is certainly our duty to love him supremely, and be thankful for his mercies; for he is certainly from the excellence of his nature, and the instances of his goodness, worthy our supreme love and our highest gratitude. And to feel no love, but on the contrary to exercise enmity towards him; and to exercise no gratitude, but on the contrary to be unthankful, certainly are instances of practical atheism ; for such conduct is a practical denial of the excellence and the goodness of God.
If there be a God and he be what he is, it is our duty to trust him. Despairing of his mercy, fearing to commit our ways unto him, and murmuring and repining at his providential dispensations, are therefore practical atheism. For these are a practical denial of his wisdom, power, truth, mercy, and faithfulness.
Again, if there be a God, and he be what he is, it is certainly our duty to choose him as our portion, and to take him as our God, and worship him. If therefore we neglect these things, we are guilty of practical atheism.— For we hereby practically declare that God is not a satisfying good and portion, and we practically deny his right to us, and his worthiness of our worship; which is to make him something different from what he is, and is a practical denial of the being of the true God. Hence they who neglect the duty of prayer, and any other of the ordinances of divine worship are practical atheists.
Once more, if there be a God, and he be what he is, he ought to be obeyed. Every omission of duty, and every positive transgression of any of the divine commandments-in short every sin, whether in heart, word, or deed, and whether of omission or commission, is practical atheism; as every sin is a practical denial of the authority
of God, or his right to reign over us and give us laws; of his righteousness in laying such commands upon us; of his holiness or hatred of sin; of his truth in his threatnings against sin; and of his power to punish sin From what has been said we may see,
1. The inconsistency of many of mankind. They profess to believe that there is a God, and such a God as he has revealed himself to be, and yet act as though there were no God. They profess to believe that there is a God in whose hands they are and who, is infinitely excellent and kind, and yet they forget him, make no exertions to become acquainted with his character, live in ignorance of him, are unthankful, and neglect and refuse to love him. They profess to believe in his power, and yet do not fear him; and in his omnipresence, and omniscience and yet act as though he did not see them. They profess to believe in his right to their worship and yet do not worship him. They profess to believe in his infinite wisdom, power, and faithfulness, and yet do not trust in him. They acknowledge his providence, and yet do not regard the operations of his hand. And they profess to believe in his right of authority over his creatures, his holiness, justice, truth, and power, and the dreadfulness of his wrath, and yet live in rebellion. Surely there is great inconsistency in this! and that nature which is capable of acting thus must be greatly depraved. Such is our nature. Let us be humbled in view of this truth. Let us be ashamed of the inconsistency of our conduct, and endeavour in future to act more consistently, and according to what we profess to believe concerning the true God. Let us not endeavour as too many do to bring our sentiments, concerning the true God, and his religion, to correspond with our practice. This is one grand cause of infidelity. Men desire to be consistent. Hence, many, feeling no dispo sition to alter their practice, gradually change their sentiments to suit their practice. But let us take the word of God as our guide, and from it form our sentiments of the divine character. And if our practice does not correspond with what the character of God teaches us it ought to be, let us not alter our sentiments to suit our practice; but let us change our practice that it may correspond with correct sentiments.
2. We learn from our subject, something of the evil na
ture and exceeding sinfulness of sin. Every sin, as we have seen, is practical atheism, as it is a practical denial of some of the perfections, and consequently of the being of the true God. Sin therefore which strikes at the very being of the infinitely perfect and glorious God, must be a great evil; and must be infinitely hateful in his sight, and deserving of all that punishment, which he has threatened against it. Let us therefore be impressed with a sense of the evil nature of sin. Let us seek pardon and deliverance from its dreadful consequences, in the way which God has been pleased to open, and which he has revealed in the Gospel, viz, through faith in the atoning blood of the Redeemer. Let us exercise unfeigned and deep repentance for our sins; and let us fear sin and watch and war against it.
3. We may learn from our subject, that dreadful misery must await those, who neglect and reject the salvation offered in the Gospel, and die with their sins unpardoned. For if sin be as we have seen, a practical denial of the true God, if in its tendency it would rob him of his glorious perfections and cast him down from the throne of the universe, and even destroy his being, a dreadful punishment must await those who shall finally perish, when God comes to pour out his wrath upon them for their sins against him. In the language of the Psalmist, Ps. L. 22. be exhorted," consider this, ye that forget God, lest he tear you in pieces and there be none to deliver." There is opened, a way of pardon and reconciliation with God.He has given his son to make atonement for sin, and work out such a righteousness as he will accept. He has finished the work which the Father gave him to do. Salvation through him is now offered to us. It is now an accepted time and day of salvation. Let sinners therefore without delay accept of proffered mercy, by receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as he is offered in the Gospel, and putting their trust in him for salvation.
4. Finally, let christians from this subject be filled with a greater abhorence of sin. You profess not only to believe that there is a God, and that he is such a being as he is; but also to take him as your God, and to fear, love, reverence, worship, and obey him.. Sin in you is therefore peculiarly inconsistent; and we may add peculiarly sinful. Always remember, that sin is a practical denial of