S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
The second source of cheerfulness to a good mind is the consideration of that Being on whom we have our dependence, and in whom, though we behold him as yet but in the first faint discoveries of his perfections, we see everything that we can imagine as great, glorious, or amiable. We find ourselves everywhere upheld by his goodness, and surrounded with an immensity of love and mercy. In short, we depend upon a Being whose power qualifies him to make us happy by an infinity of means, whose goodness and truth engage him to make those happy who desire it of him, and whose unchangeableness will secure us in this happiness to all eternity.
Such considerations, which every one should perpetually cherish in his thoughts, will banish from us all that secret heaviness of heart which unthinking men are subject to when they lie under no real affliction; all that anguish which we may feel from any evil that actually oppresses us, to which I may likewise add those little cracklings of mirth and folly that are apter to betray virtue than to support it; and establish in us such an even and cheerful temper as makes us pleasing to ourselves, to those with whom we converse, and to Him whom we were made to please.
In this consideration of God Almightys omnipresence and omniscience every uncomfortable thought vanishes. He cannot but regard everything that has being, especially such of his creatures who fear they are not regarded by him. He is privy to all their thoughts, and to that anxiety of heart in particular which is apt to trouble them on this occasion; for as it is impossible he should overlook any of his creatures, so we may be confident that he regards with an eye of mercy those who endeavour to recommend themselves to his notice, and in an unfeigned humility of heart think themselves unworthy that he should be mindful of them.
It is folly to seek the approbation of any being besides the Supreme; because no other being can make a right judgment of us, and because we can procure no considerable advantage from the approbation of any other being.
The Supreme Being has made the best argument for his own existence, in the formation of the heavens and the earth, and which a man of sense cannot forbear attending to who is out of the noise of human affairs.
The scripture saith, The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God: it is not said, The fool hath thought in his heart; so as he rather saith it by rote to himself, as that he would have, than that he can thoroughly believe it, or be persuaded of it: for none deny there is a God, but those for whom it maketh that there were no God.
They that deny a God destroy a mans nobility; for certainly man is of kin to the beasts by his body; and if he be not of kin to God by his spirit, he is a base and ignoble creature. It destroys, likewise, magnanimity, and the raising human nature.
Man, when he resteth and assureth himself upon divine protection and favour, gathereth a force and faith which human nature in itself could not obtain: therefore, as atheism is in all respects hateful, so in this, that it depriveth human nature of the means to exalt itself above human frailty.
If this pre-existent eternity is not compatible with a successive duration, as we clearly and distinctly perceive that it is not, then it remains that some being, though infinitely above our finite comprehensions, must have had an identical, invariable continuance from all eternity; which being is no other than God.
That all these distances, motions, and quantities of matter should be so accurately and harmoniously adjusted in this great variety of our system, is above the fortuitous hits of blind material causes; and must certainly flow from that eternal fountain of wisdom.
The consideration of our understanding, which is an incorporeal substance independent from matter; and the contemplation of our own bodies, which have all the stamps and characters of excellent contrivance: these alone do very easily guide us to the wise Author of all things.
And to be true, and speak my soul, when I survey the occurrences of my life, and call into account the finger of God, I can perceive nothing but an abyss and mass of mercies, either in general to mankind, or in particular to myself; and whether out of the prejudice of my affection, or an inverting and partial conceit of his mercies, I know not; but those which others term crosses, afflictions, judgments, misfortunes, to me who inquire farther into them than their visible effects, they both appear, and in event have ever proved, the secret and dissembled favours of his affection. It is a singular piece of wisdom to apprehend truly, and without passion, the works of God, and so well to distinguish his justice from his mercy as not to miscall those noble attributes: yet it is likewise an honest piece of logic, so to dispute and argue the proceedings of God as to distinguish even his judgments into mercies. For God is merciful unto all, because better to the worst than the best deserve; and to say he punisheth none in this world, though it be a paradox, is no absurdity.
Although to opinion there be many gods may seem an access in religion, and such as cannot at all consist with atheism; yet doth it deductively and upon inference include the same: for unity is the inseparable and essential attribute of Deity.
As he created all things, so is he beyond and in them all, not only in power, as under his subjection, or in his presence, as being in his cognition, but in his very essence, as being the soul of their causalities and the essential cause of their existences.
But what has been often urged as a consideration of much more weight, is not only the opinion of the better sort, but the general consent of mankind to this great truth; which I think could not possibly have come to pass, but from one of the three following reasons: either that the idea of a God is innate and co-existent with the mind itself; or that this truth is so very obvious that it is discovered by the first exertion of reason in persons of the most ordinary capacities; or, lastly, that it has been delivered down to us through all ages by a tradition from the first man. The Atheists are equally confounded, to whichever of these three causes we assign it.
Now, though in a just idea of the Deity perhaps none of his attributes are predominant, yet, to our imagination, his power is by far the most striking. Some reflection, some comparing, is necessary to satisfy us of his wisdom, his justice, and his goodness. To be struck with his power, it is only necessary that we should open our eyes. But whilst we contemplate so vast an object, under the arm, as it were, of almighty power, and invested upon every side with omnipresence, we shrink into the minuteness of our own nature, and are, in a manner, annihilated before him. And although a consideration of his other attributes may relieve, in some measure, our apprehensions, yet no conviction of the justice with which it is exercised, nor the mercy with which it is tempered, can wholly remove the terror that naturally arises from a force which nothing can withstand. If we rejoice, we rejoice with trembling; and even whilst we are receiving benefits, we cannot but shudder at a power which can confer benefits of such mighty importance.
But the Scripture alone can supply ideas answerable to the majesty of this subject. In the Scripture, wherever God is represented as appearing or speaking, everything terrible in nature is called up to heighten the awe and solemnity of the Divine presence. The Psalms and the prophetical books are crowded with instances of this kind. The earth shook (says the Psalmist), the heavens also dropped at the presence of the Lord. And, what is remarkable, the painting preserves the same character not only when he is supposed descending to take vengeance upon the wicked, but even when he exerts the like plenitude of power in acts of beneficence to mankind. Tremble, thou earth! at the presence of the Lord; at the presence of the God of Jacob; which turned the rock into standing water, the flint into a fountain of waters! It were endless to enumerate all the passages, both in the sacred and profane writers, which establish the general sentiment of mankind, concerning the inseparable union of a sacred and reverential awe, with our ideas of the divinity.
Before the Christian religion had, as it were, humanized the idea of the Divinity, and brought it somewhat nearer to us, there was very little said of the love of God. The followers of Plato have something of it, and only something; the other writers of pagan antiquity, whether poets or philosophers, nothing at all. And they who consider with what infinite attention, by what a disregard of every perishable object, through what long habits of piety and contemplation it is that any man is able to attain an entire love and devotion to the Deity, will easily perceive that it is not the first, the most natural, and the most striking effect which proceeds from that idea.
I, who have brought my mind to so exclusive a veneration for the divine perfections that I have no admiration left for those of men, beyond my understanding of them, am yet very willing to honour virtue, so far as I am able to recognize and comprehend it.
He [Robert Boyle] had the profoundest veneration for the great God of heaven and earth that I have ever observed in any person. The very name of God was never mentioned by him without a pause and a visible stop in his discourse; in which one that knew him most particularly above twenty years has told me that he was so exact, that he does not remember to have observed him once to fail in it.
Bishop Burnet: Sermon at the Funeral of the Hon. Robert Boyle.
His eye is upon every hour of my existence. His spirit is intimately present with every thought of my heart. His inspiration gives birth to every purpose within me. His hand impresses a direction on every footstep of my goings. Every breath I inhale is drawn by an energy which God deals out to me.
Dr. Thomas Chalmers: Discourses on Mod. Astron., Disc. III.
While earthly objects are exhausted by familiarity, the thought of God becomes to the devout man continually brighter, richer, vaster; derives fresh lustre from all that he observes of nature and Providence, and attracts to itself all the glories of the universe. The devout man, especially in moments of strong religious sensibility, feels distinctly that he has found the true happiness of man. He has found a Being for his veneration and love, whose character is inexhaustible, who after ages shall have passed will still be uncomprehended in the extent of His perfections, and will still communicate to the pure mind stronger proofs of His excellence and more intimate signs of His approval.
The existence of God is the foundation of all religion. The whole building totters if the foundation be out of course: if we have not deliberate and right notions of it, we shall perform no worship, no service, yield no affection to him. If there be not a God, it is impossible there can be one; eternity is essential to the notion of a God; so all religion would be vain, and unreasonable, to pay homage to that which is not in being, nor ever can be.
The accusations of conscience evidence the omniscience and the holiness of God; the terrors of conscience, the justice of God; the approbations of conscience, the goodness of God. All the order in the world owes itself, next to the providence of God, to conscience; without it the world would be a Golgotha. As the creatures witness there was a first cause that produced them, so this principle in man evidenceth itself to be set by the same hand, for the good of that which it had so framed. There could be no conscience if there were no God, and man could not be a rational creature if there were no conscience.
The being of a God is the guard of the world; the sense of a God is the foundation of civil order; without this there is no tie upon the consciences of men. What force would there be in oaths for the decision of controversies, what right could there be in appeals made to one that had no being? A city of atheists would be a heap of confusion; there could be no ground of any commerce, when all the sacred bonds of it in the consciences of men were snapt asunder, which are torn to pieces and utterly destroyed by denying the existence of God. What magistrate could be secure in his standing? What private person could be secure in his right? Can that, then, be a truth that is destructive of all public good?
I question whether there ever was, or can be in the world, an uninterrupted and internal denial of the being of God, or that men (unless we can suppose conscience utterly dead) can arrive to such a degree of impiety; for before they can stifle such sentiments in them (whatsoever they may assert) they must be utter strangers to the common conceptions of reason, and despoil themselves of their own humanity. He that dares to deny a God with his lips, yet sets up something or other as a God in his heart. Is it not lamentable that this sacred truth, consented to by all nations, which is the band of civil societies, the source of all order in the world, should be denied with a bare face, and disputed against, in companies, and the glory of a wise Creator ascribed to an unintelligent nature, to blind chance? Are not such worse than heathens?
Is God a being less to be regarded than man, and more worthy of contempt than a creature? It would be strange if a benefactor should live in the same town, in the same house, with us, and we never exchange a word with him; yet this is our case, who have the works of God in our eyes, the goodness of God in our being, the mercy of God in our daily food, yet think so little of him, converse so little with him, serve everything before him, and prefer everything above him. Whence have we our mercies but from his hand? Who, besides him, maintains our breath at this moment? Would he call for our spirits this moment, they must depart from us to attend his command. There is not a moment wherein our unworthy carriage is not aggravated, because there is not a moment wherein he is not our guardian and gives us not tastes of a fresh bounty.
God is a perpetual refuge and security to his people. His providence is not confined to one generation; it is not one age only that tastes of his bounty and compassion. His eye never yet slept, nor hath he suffered the little ship of his church to be swallowed up, though it hath been tossed upon the waves; he hath always been a haven to preserve us, a house to secure us; he hath always had compassion to pity us, and power to protect us; he hath had a face to shine, when the world hath had an angry countenance to frown. He brought Enoch home by an extraordinary translation from a brutish world; and when he was resolved to reckon with men for their brutish lives, he lodged Noah, the phnix of the world, in an ark, and kept him alive as a spark in the midst of many waters, whereby to rekindle a church in the world; in all generations he is a dwelling-place to secure his people here or entertain them above.
There is no succession in the knowledge of God. The variety of successions and changes in the world make not succession, or new objects, in the Divine mind; for all things are present to him from eternity in regard of his knowledge, though they are not actually present in the world in regard of their existence. He doth not know one thing now, and another anon; he sees all things at once; Known unto God are all things from the beginning of the world (Acts xv. 18); but in their true order of succession, as they lie in the eternal council of God, to be brought forth in time. Though there be a succession and order of things as they are wrought, there is yet no succession in God in regard of his knowledge of them.
What encouragement could there be to lift up our eyes to one that were of one mind this day and of another mind to-morrow? Who would put up a petition to an earthly prince that were so mutable as to grant a petition one day and deny it another, and change his own act? But if a prince promise this or that thing upon such or such a condition, and you know his promise to be as unchangeable as the laws of the Medes and Persians, would any man reason thus? because it is unchangeable we will not seek to him, we will not perform the condition upon which the fruit of the proclamation is to be enjoyed. Who would not count such an inference ridiculous? What blessings hath not God promised upon the condition of seeking him?
He hath willed everything that may be for our good, if we perform the condition he hath required; and hath put it upon record, that we may know it and regulate our desires and supplications according to it. If we will not seek him, his immutability cannot be a bar, but our own folly is the cause; and by our neglect we despoil him of this perfection as to us, and either imply that he is not sincere, and means not as he speaks; or that he is as changeable as the wind, sometimes this thing, sometimes that, and not at all to be confided in. If we ask according to his revealed will, the unchangeableness of his nature will assure us of the grant; and what a presumption would it be in a creature dependent upon his sovereign, to ask that which he knows he has declared his will against; since there is no good we can want, but he hath promised to give, upon our sincere and ardent desire for it.
If God be immutable, it is sad news to those that are resolved in wickedness, or careless of returning to that duty he requires. Sinners must not expect that God will alter his will, make a breach upon his nature, and violate his own word, to gratify their lusts. No, it is not reasonable God should dishonour himself to secure them, and cease to be God, that they may continue to be wicked, by changing his own nature, that they may be unchanged in their vanity. God is the same; goodness is as amiable in his sight, and sin as abominable in his eyes, now, as it was at the beginning of the world. Being the same God, he is the same enemy to the wicked, as the same friend to the righteous. He is the same in knowledge, and cannot forget sinful acts. He is the same in will, and cannot approve of unrighteous practices. Goodness cannot but be alway the object of his love, and wickedness cannot but be alway the object of his hatred; and as his aversion to sin is alway the same, so as he hath been in his judgments upon sinners, the same he will be still; for the same perfection of immutability belongs to his justice for the punishment of sin, as to his holiness for his disaffection to sin.
There are none of his people so despicable in the eye of man, but they are known and regarded by God; though they are clouded in the world, yet they are the stars of the world; and shall God number the inanimate stars in the heavens, and make no account of his living stars on the earth? No, wherever they are dispersed, he will not forget them; however they are afflicted, he will not despise them; the stars are so numerous, that they are innumerable by man; some are visible and known by men; others lie more hid and undiscovered in a confused light, as those in the milky way; man cannot see one of them distinctly. God knows all his people. As he can do what is above the power of man to perform, so he understands what is above the skill of man to discover; shall man measure God by his scantiness? Proud man must not equal himself to God, nor cut God as short as his own line. He tells the number of the stars, and calls them all by their names. He hath them all in his list, as generals the names of their soldiers in their muster-roll, for they are his host, which he marshals in the heavens (as Isa. xi. 26, where you have the like expression); he knows them more distinctly than man can know anything, and so distinctly as to call them all by their names.
But as the essence, so the wisdom of God is incomprehensible to any creature; God only is comprehended by God. The secrets of wisdom in God are double to the expressions of it in his works (Job xi. 6, 7): Canst thou by searching find out God? There is an unfathomable depth in all his decrees, in all his works; we cannot comprehend the reason of his works, much less that of his decrees, much less that in his nature; because his wisdom, being infinite as well as his power, can no more act to the highest pitch than his power. As his power is not terminated by what he hath wrought, but he could give further testimonies of it, so neither is his wisdom, but he could furnish us with infinite expressions and pieces of his skill. As in regard of his immensity he is not bounded by the limits of place; in regard of his eternity, not measured by the minutes of time; in regard of his power, not terminated with this or that number of objects; so, in regard of his wisdom, he is not confined to this or that particular mode of working; so that in regard of the reason of his actions as well as the glory and majesty of his nature, be dwells in unapproachable light (1 Tim. vi. 16); and whatsoever we understand of his wisdom in creation and providence is infinitely less than what is in himself and his own unbounded nature.
Hence is the ground for the immutability of God. As he is incapable of changing his resolves, because of his infinite wisdom, so he is incapable of being forced to any change, because of his infinite power. Being almighty, he can be no more changed from power to weakness, than, being all-wise, he can be changed from wisdom to folly, or, being omniscient, from knowledge to ignorance. He cannot be altered in his purposes, because of his wisdom; nor in the manner and method of his actions, because of his infinite strength. Men, indeed, when their designs are laid deepest and their purposes stand firmest, yet are forced to stand still, or change the manner of the execution of their resolves, by reason of some outward accidents that obstruct them in their course; for, having not wisdom to foresee future hindrances, they have not power to prevent them, or strength to remove them, when they unexpectedly interpose themselves between their desire and performance; but no created power has strength enough to be a bar against God. By the same act of his will that he resolves a thing, he can puff away any impediments that seem to rise up against him. He that wants no means to effect his purposes cannot be checked by anything that riseth up to stand in his way; heaven, earth, sea, the deepest places are too weak to resist his will.
Since therefore all things are ordered in subserviency to the good of man, they are so ordered by Him that made both man and them; and man must acknowledge the wisdom and goodness of his Creator, and act in subserviency to His glory, as other creatures act in subserviency to his good. Sensible objects were not made only to gratify the sense of man, but to hand something to his mind as he is a rational creature; to discover God to him as an object of love and desire to be enjoyed. If this be not the effect of it, the order of the creature, as to such an one, is in vain, and falls short of its true end.
Unto them that love him, God causeth all things to work for the best. So that with Him, by the heavenly light of steadfast faith, they see life even in death; with Him, even in heaviness and sorrow, they fail not of joy and comfort; with Him, even in poverty, affliction, and trouble, they neither perish nor are forsaken.
Without God in the world. Think what a description, and applicable to individuals without number! If it had been without friendswithout foodwithout shelterthat would have had a gloomy sound; but without God! without him!that is, in no happy relation to him who is the very origin, support, and life of all things; without him who can make good flow to his creatures from an infinity of sources; without him whose favour possessed is the best, the sublimest, of all delights, all triumphs, all glories; without him who can confer an eternal felicity; without him, too, in a world where the human creature knows there is a mighty and continual conspiracy against his welfare. What do those who are under so sad a destitution value and seek instead? But what will anything or all things be worth in his absence?
John Foster: Life and Thoughts, by W. W. Everts, 218.
His works but faintly reflect the image of his perfections; it is a second-hand knowledge: to have a just idea of him it may be necessary that we see him as he is. But what is that? It is something that never entered into the heart of man to conceive: yet what we can easily conceive will be a fountain of unspeakable, of everlasting rapture. All created glories will fade and die away in his presence. Perhaps it will be my happiness to compare the world with the fair exemplar of it in the Divine Mind; perhaps to view the original plan of those wise designs that have been executing in a long series of ages. Thus employed in finding out his works and contemplating their Author, how shall I fall prostrate and adoring, my body swallowed up in the immensity of matter, my mind in the infinitude of his perfections!
There is the same necessity for the divine influence and regimen to order and govern, conserve and keep together, the universe in that consistence it hath received, as it was at first to give it before it could receive it.
There is no creature in the world wherein we may not see enough to wonder at: for there is no worm of the earth, no spire of grass, no leaf, no twig, wherein we see not the footsteps of a Deity: the best visible creature is man; now, what man is he that can make but an hair, or a straw, much less any sensitive creature? so as no less than an infinite power is seen in every object that presents itself to our eyes, if therefore we look only on the outside of these bodily substances, and we do not see God in everything, we are no better than brutish; make use merely of our sense, without the least improvement of our faith or our reason. Contrary, then, to the opinion of those men who hold that a wise man should admire nothing, I say that a truly wise and good man should admire everything, or rather that infiniteness of wisdom and omnipotence which shows itself in every visible object.
Human excellence is blended with many imperfections and seen under many limitations. It is beheld only in detached and separate portions, nor ever appears in any one character whole and entire. So that when, in imitation of the Stoics, we wish to form out of these fragments the notion of a perfectly good and wise man, we know that it is a mere fiction of the mind, without any real being in whom it is embodied and realized. In the belief of a Deity these conceptions are reduced to reality: the scattered rays of an ideal excellence are concentrated, and become the real attributes of that Being with whom we stand in the nearest relation, who sits supreme at the head of the universe, is armed with infinite power, and pervades all nature with his presence.
The efficacy of these views in producing and augmenting a virtuous taste will indeed be proportioned to the vividness with which they are formed, and the frequency with which they recur; yet some benefit will not fail to result from them even in their lowest degree.
God alone excepted; who actually and everlastingly is whatsoever he may be; and which cannot hereafter be that which now he is not: all other things besides are somewhat in possibility which as yet they are not in act.
The better, the more desirable: that therefore must be desirable wherein there is infinity of goodness; so that if anything desirable may be infinite, that must needs be the highest of all things that are desired: no good is infinite but only God, therefore he is our felicity and bliss.
Whom although to know be life, and joy to make mention of his name; yet our soundest knowledge is to know that we know him not as indeed he is, neither can know him; and our safest eloquence concerning him is silence.
A little, with the blessing of God upon it, is better than a great deal, with the encumbrance of His curse; His blessing can multiply a mite into a talent, but His curse will shrink a talent into a mite; by Him the arms of the wicked are broken, and by Him the righteous are upholden: so that the great question is, whether He be with or against us, and the great misfortune is, that this question is seldom asked. The favour of God is to them that obtain it a better and enduring substance, which, like the widows barrel of oil, wasted not in the evil days of famine, nor will fail.
What an immense workman is God in miniature as well as in the great! With the one hand, perhaps, He is making a ring of one hundred thousand miles in diameter, to revolve round a planet like Saturn, and with the other is forming a tooth in the ray of the feather of a hummingbird, or a point in the claw of the foot of a microscopic insect. When He works in miniature, everything is gilded, polished, and perfect; but whatever is made by human art, as a needle, &c., when viewed by a microscope appears rough, and coarse, and bungling.
There is no truth which a man may more evidently make out to himself than the existence of a God; yet he that shall content himself with things as they minister to our pleasures and passions, and not make enquiry a little further into their causes and ends, may live long without any notion of such a being.
Though God has given us no innate ideas of himself, though he has stamped no original characters on our minds wherein we may read his being; yet, having furnished us with those faculties our minds are endowed with, he hath not left himself without witness.
He who can imagine the universe fortuitous or self-created is not a subject for argument, provided he has the power of thinking, or even the faculty of seeing. He who sees no design cannot claim the character of a philosopher; for philosophy traces means and ends. He who traces no causes must not assume to be a metaphysician; and if he does trace them, he must arrive at a First Cause. And he who perceives no final causes is equally deficient in metaphysics and in natural philosophy; since, without this, he cannot generalize,can discover no plan where there is no purpose. But if he who can see a Creation without seeing a Creator has made small advances in knowledge, so he who can philosophize on it, and not feel the eternal presence of its Great Author, is little to be envied, even as a mere philosopher; since he deprives the universe of all its grandeur, and himself of the pleasure springing from those exalted views which soar beyond the details of tangible forms and common events. And if with that presence around him he can be evil, he is an object of compassion; for he will be rejected by Him whom he opposes or rejects.
I cannot but take notice of the wonderful love of God to mankind, who, in order to encourage obedience to His laws, has annexed a present as well as a future reward to a good life, and has so interwoven our duty and happiness together, that, while we are discharging our obligations to the one, we are, at the same time, making the best provision for the other.
May I be one of the weakest, provided only, in my weakness, that immortal and better vigour be put forth with greater effect; provided only, in my darkness, the light of the divine countenance does but the more brightly shine: for then I shall at once be the weakest and the most mighty,shall be at once blind and of the most piercing sight.
The whole evolution of ages, from everlasting to everlasting, is so collectively and presentifically represented to God at once, as if all things which ever were, are, or shall be, were at this very instant really present.
There never was a man of solid understanding, whose apprehensions are sober, and by a pensive inspection advised, but that he hath found by an irresistible necessity one true God and everlasting being.
Those that attribute to the faculty any first or sole power have therein no other understanding than such a one hath who looking into the stern of a ship, and finding it guided by the helm and rudder, doth ascribe some absolute virtue to the piece of wood, without all consideration of the hand that guides it.
When my reason is afloat, my faith cannot long remain in suspense, and I believe in God as firmly as in any other truth whatever: in short, a thousand motives draw me to the consolatory side, and add the weight of hope to the equilibrium of reason.
It is the nature of every artificer to tender and esteem his own work; and if God should not love His creature it would reflect some disparagement upon His workmanship, that He should make anything that He could not own. Gods power never produces what His goodness cannot embrace. God oftentimes, in the same man, distinguishes between the sinner and the creature; as a creature He can love him, while as a sinner He does afflict him.
This doctrine of Gods good will towards men, this command of mens proportionable good will to one another, is not this the very body and substance, this the very spirit and life, of our Saviours whole institution?
Those who apply themselves to learning are forced to acknowledge one God, incorruptible and unbegotten; who is the only true being, and abides forever above the highest heavens, from whence He beholds all the things that are done in heaven and earth.
Edward Stillingfleet: Defence of Disc. on Romish Idolatry.
The high and the low, the young and the old, the busy and the idle, alike shun acquaintance with God, as if his very name brought uneasiness and disturbed our comfort and repose. If we mention God to the young, we too often seem to be troubling them with what they had rather forget in such early days; while the aged dislike to be reminded of their misfortune, that their time on earth is drawing near to an end. If we mention God to the gay and happy, we appear to be interfering with their pleasures. If we mention Him to the great and to the learned, they will intimate that such subjects belong rather to a lower class or station. But the poor and laborious, on their part, refer us to those who have more information and more leisure. Thus a large portion of mankind, in all classes, strive to keep God out of their thoughts, and to live, so far as in them lies, without Him in the world. Yes, without Him who, as the Apostle says, is not far from any one of us: for in Him we live, and move, and have our being. Why should they act so strangely and unreasonably, if they believed that acquaintance with God would give them peace?
Let us always bear about us such impressions of reverence, and fear of God, that we may humble ourselves before his almightiness, and express that infinite distance between his infiniteness and our weaknesses.
No constant reason of this can be given, but from the nature of mans mind, which hath this notion of a Deity born with it and stamped upon it; or is of such a frame that in the free use of itself it will find out God.
We come to be assured that there is such a being, either by an internal impression of the notion of a God upon our minds, or else by such external and visible effects as our reason tells us must be attributed to some cause, and which we cannot attribute to any other but such as we conceive God to be.