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ALL the rights that any individual of the human race, or any community, commonwealth, or nation, ever have had, or ever will have, were and are first derived from God; who, in his infinite wisdom, and by his Almighty fiat, spake all worlds and beings into existence. "Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the earth stand in awe of him. For he spake and it was done, he commanded and it stood fast." James says, "Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of Lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."
The framers of the constitution of this commonwealth, were very wise, intelligent, and judicious men. They were patriots, philanthropists, and christians. They were men of the puritan or protestant stamp, and they comprehended all the rights of man in the terms "natural, essential and unalienable." And these rights are the good and perfect gifts of the Father of Lights. The framers of the constitution firmly believed in the existence of one eternal first cause, whom they very properly styled "the Supreme Being, the great creator and preserver of the universe;" and, of course, they never meant, in the least degree, to open the flood-gates of atheism and infi
delity; but rather put their feet and the arm of their power upon the gate, to keep it down as close as they could. They also as firmly believed in the divine origin of the Bible, as they did in the eternal existence of "the Supreme Being, the great creator and preserver of the universe.' And consequently they believed, that all the laws, commandments, statutes and judgments of a moral nature, found in the Old and New Testaments, were as binding upon them as men and statesmen, and framers of the constitution and christians, as on all other men, as individuals, or as members of the community for which they were acting. And, accordingly, they never meant to open the flood-gates of vice, and intemperance, and immorality, and irreligion; but they meant to keep down as closely as possible, all the flood-gates of evil, and gave to the legislature of this state, the full powers to enact such laws, as, in their judgment, the public good required to restrain the evil doer. And may the names and the memory of the framers of the constitution of Massachusetts, be forever venerated and blest.
We have abundance of evidence, sufficient to satisfy every intelligent, honest, and candid mind, that there is one eternål first cause, from whom all worlds and beings derived their existence; and the eternal first cause of all things is God. He is the eternal, underived, selfexistent, incomprehensible, independent Almighty, the infinitely wise, holy and glorious Jehovah. And in him dwell all the glorious attributes of perfection that men or angels can possibly conceive of. And for his "pleasure," all things "are and were created." "The four and twenty elders fell down before him that sat on the throne, and worshiped him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honor, and power; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." The glory or pleasure of God is the highest and best good of the universe; and this greatest of all objects was secured in the eternal mind
before the foundation of the world. And, of course, all other objects are of a minor and secondary nature, and must be in full subjection to the great first object. And nothing ever has yet transpired, nor can any thing ever possibly transpire in the immensity of space, to frustrate the eternal purpose of God, in the least degree.
And every intelligent being that ever has received existence, or ever shall receive existence, will be forever under the strongest obligations to love, obey, adore and worship the only living and true God. It never has been, nor ever will be possible, for angels, or men, or devils, to remove one particle of that everlasting obligation that God has laid upon them that have heretofore received existence, or shall hereafter receive existence. And this everlasting obligation to God is as binding on devils as on angels, on atheists and infidels as on christians. I do not mean to be understood as saying the same in amount, because that the more God has done for an individual the greater is the amount of his obligation to love him; yet no intelligent being will ever be able to offer the least reason why he should not love God supremely, for God never has done or ever can do the least thing that is not perfectly just and righteous. So that all the guilt lays at the sinner's door. No intelligent being that ever received existence, or ever shall receive existence in the immensity of space, ever had, or ever will have the least conceivable right to indulge for one moment, one irreverent thought, and much less to speak or write one disrespectful word against Jehovah, although no one heard the word when it was spoken but him that spake it, or saw the word that was written, but him that wrote it.
If it is true, that no being that ever has received existence, or ever shall receive existence in the vast universe, ever did have, or ever will have the least right to indulge for one moment, one irreverent thought of God, or speak or write one disrespectful word against him, although no human being but himself should ever know
anything about it, then it will most certainly follow that no man has a natural, essential, and unalienable right to deny the existence of the creating, the upholding, and the governing power and goodness of the eternal God. And most surely it will follow that no man has the least conceivable right to speak in the hearing of a multitude, and write, and publish to the world that thousands may read, disrespectful and contemptible language about and against the infinite God, and Jesus Christ our Lord. No man has any more right to spread slander and falsehood, than he has to originate it.
Mr. Kneeland had no more right to copy from Voltaire's infamous works, blasphemous language against God and the Holy Ghost, than Voltaire had to write and publish it to the world. There is no conceivable right in either case. Mr. Kneeland no doubt drinks as deeply of the cup of atheism and infidelity as Voltaire ; and their cup is the cup of abominations, and they will have to drink even the dregs of their own cup of iniquity. I do not believe that Voltaire ever wrote a word against God, or Jesus Christ, or the Holy Ghost, or against the Bible, that Mr. Kneeland does not approve of in his mind and in his heart.
The Bible is the revelation of the mind and will of
God to man. And it comes to us accompanied with all that evidence of its divine origin, that an intelligent, honest, and candid mind can rationally wish for. The evidence of the divine origin of the Bible, is of a two-fold character, internal and external. Divinity is enstamped on its very face, and our reason and our conscience teach us that it must be of higher than human origin, even of divine. The Bible is just such a book as mankind stand in need of; for its laws, commandments, precepts, doctrines, and ordinances, are calculated to make men wiser and better for this world and for the future. It teaches us that God is a spirit; what man was when he came out of the forming hand of his maker, a little lower than the angels, and crowned with glory and honor-what he
now is, a fallen, depraved and guilty being, and how he came so by his own voluntary act-and how he can be saved from his present deplorable situation, through Jesus Christ alone; "for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby he must be saved." Let Mr. Kneeland show us a book that can give us such important information upon a subject in which we are so deeply interested, in reference to this world and the future, as the Bible does.
The Bible is calculated to make the best of men better in heart and in life, and the wisest of men wiser for time and for eternity. The psalmist in addressing the Most High says, "Wherewith shall a young man cleanse his ways? By taking heed thereto according to thy word.' No man has any more right to pervert one passage of scripture, than he has to pervert the whole of it. And no man has any more right to deny the divine origin of one passage of the scriptures, than he has to deny the whole Bible. No man has any more right to be a deist than he has to be an atheist. To deny one passage of scripture its original import is the commencement of infidelity, and give this principle its full scope, and it ends in nothing short of a total denial of divine revelation; and deism leads on to atheism, and atheism leads down to perdition.
Paul writing to the Romish church, says, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God, revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, The just shall live by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness. Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them, for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse."