De Moor IV:10: Spanheim's Arguments for the Existence of God

GROTIUS, in de Veritate Christianæ Religionis, book I, § 2, 7, evinces that there is a God. SPANHEIM the Younger in his tractate, which is called l’Athée convaincu en quatre Sermons sur Psalm 14:1, with remarkable ability gives proof of the Existence of God against the Atheists, making use of these arguments:

α. From the history of the Church, handed down to posterity in Sacred Scripture. For, if there is no God,

1. There was never a divine Vision or Revelation, never Prophecies concerning future things nor Miracles to confirm the truth: and so the entire Mosaic history and that of the Prophets would be a mere fiction and dramatic image, Sermon II, pages 99-104.

2. Either no Jesus Christ appeared in the fullness of time,[1] or He was the greatest imposter, and His miracles were mere illustions. Likewise, all His Apostles were either the worst scoundrels, or the most senseless idiots: Sermon II, pages 104-108.

β. From the singular Workmanship that is observed in the facric of the entire World and of all creatures: Sermon II, pages 109-116.

γ. From the formation of Man himself, Sermon II, pages 117-128.

δ. From the spiritual nature of man’s Mind, Sermon II, pages 128-139.

ε. From the optimal Order and stable Harmony that is discovered in this Universe, Sermon II, pages 139-141; especially from the best-disposed Providence, whereby all things are furnished for men, beasts, plants, and the rest of the creatures, that are required for their preservation, nourishment, defense, and activities, Sermon II, pages 142-151.

ϛ. From extraordinary Providence in supernatural Events: public Miracles, Sermon III, pages 180-185; exemplary Punishments, destined Revolutions, truly divine Preservations, pages 186-191.

ζ. From κοιναῖς ἐννοίαις, common notions, the testimony of Conscience, Sermon III, pages 192-196; the natural instinct to ascribe to God whatever is great and excellent, Sermon III, pages 197-199.

An answer is presented to the Exception of Atheists, who contend that the Fear of Conscience arises from vain prejudices, weakness of mind, etc., Sermon III, pages 200-207.

η. From the common Consent of all Nations, which acknowledge some Deity, and render to the same religious worship, Sermon III, pages 207-211.

The Atheists object,

α. That the acknowledgment of Deity is to be ascribed to the Craft of Politicians. SPANHEIM responds in Sermon III, pages 213-222.

β. That the World and individual creatues were produced by Chance, from the fortuitous Concourse of Atoms: see the Response, Sermon III, pages 223-229.

γ. That the World was produced by Nature, and that Motion impressed upon all things by the Soul of the World or some Universal Spirit; and that all things that we discern are able to be ascribed to the necessary Law of Matter and Motion. SPANHEIM responds in Sermon III, pages 230-243.

δ. That the World and all Creatures are eternal, without beginning of existence, through perpetual succession, Sermon IV, page 282.

SPANHEIM responds: 1. Truly it has been said of all, that nothing has ever been said so removed from common sense, that at least one of the Philosophers would not defend it, pages 283-286.

2. Neither the first Philosophers of the Greeks, nor the most ancient and wisest Nations, believed the Eternity of the World: contrariwise, the Tradition concerning the first origin of all things and the World at some point produced is as ancient as men and nations, pages 286-290.

3. That the World was not from eternity is proven,

a. From the Newness of the Histories, not only of Moses, but also of the most ancient peoples, whose annals do not rise above Noah’s Flood, pages 290-294.

b. From Mythical history, which owes its rise to the Mosaic history twisted, pages 295-300.

c. From the known history of almost all Peoples, and cities and Empires founded; while the most ancient and accurate Origins were founded in the post-diluvian history of Moses, pages 301-305.

d. From the rise of the most ancient and prominent Languages from the primeval Tongue, preserved in the family of Eber,[2] pages 306-310.

e. From the newness and imperfection of the Arts and Sciences, pages 310-312.

f. From the Impossibility of the Eternity of the World, pages 312-315, which, especially with respect to Mankind, and his continual, successive procreation, while the former generations pass away, is shown, pages 315-321.

4. It is concluded that the fable of the Eternity of the World is of the same nature as the other concerning general Revolutions, pages 321, 322.

ε. If there is a God, whence came sin into the world? SPANHEIM responds in Sermon IV, pages 323-326.

ϛ. If there is a God, governing the World by His Providence, whence is it that the World is full of Confusion and disorder, as much in the physical Kingdom as in the moral? Sermon IV, pages 327-332.

SPANHEIM responds: 1. It is rash to arrogate to oneself a knowledge of the hidden reasons of divine Providence, pages 333-335.

2. It is imprudent to judge of matters that occur, with the connection and scope/end of the same not known, pages 336-344.

3. The most savage tyrants were the lashes of the peoples in the hand of God, and they themselves, at length, almost always suffer the vengeance of God, pages 345-351.

4. To those things that the Atheist gathers from the physical kingdom of God, an answer is given, pages 352-359.

5. Finally, it is observed that recompense is especially to be expected in the future life, pages 359-378.

Concerning the Insanity of the ancient Atheism and the Impiety of the new Atheism, consult LEYDEKKER,[3] in his Veritate Euangelica triumphante, tome I, book II, chapters III, IV. The Insanity of Atheism is briefly and palpably demonstrated by GERARDUS VAN AALST[4] in his præfatione ante Explicationem Parabolæ de Satore, * 1-4.

[1] See Galatians 4:4.

[2] See Genesis 10:21, 24, 25; 11:14-17.

[3] Melchior Leydekker (1642-1721) studied under Voetius at Utrecht, and Hoornbeeck and Cocceius at Leiden. He was appointed Professor of Theology at Utrecht (1676).

[4] Gerardus van Aalst (1678-1759) was a Dutch Reformed pastor.

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