There is too much practical atheism in the world. By this we mean that there are too many of those who acknowledge a God in words, that deny him in conduct. Every one, who lives upon the bounties of heaven, who enjoys the sweets of existence, and remains thoughtless of God, is practically an atheist. As saith Paul, “They profess that they know God, but in works they deny him, being abominable and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” He, who goes on in the ways of transgression and multiplies his iniquities, must either believe there is no God, or else conclude that he does not rule over the affairs of men; and on this ground flatters himself that he shall escape punishment. And not only so, but in opposition to the express declaration of Jehovah, he believes that he shall enjoy a degree of happiness in the indulgence of sin. All such are driven from those rational reflections and moral principles, which virtually constitute the man, and have yet to learn, “that the heavens do rule.”
“And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee until thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of, men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.” Daniel iv:32.
Every man, who believes that the path of virtue is thorny, and that of vice is pleasurable, is not only deceived, but has not yet learned that the Most High holds the reins of government, and dispenses to his creatures their rewards and punishments. It is evident, if every man solemnly believed that a course of sin would bring upon him certain and unavoidable misery—and that every species of dishonesty would lessen his fortune in the world, he would abandon his course, and turn his feet to the testimonies of God. The transgressor is therefore deceiving himself, is resting under a strong delusion, and is yet ignorant that the Almighty rules throughout his vast dominions. Certain it is that a wicked man was never happy while remaining in that condition, and it is equally certain that no one ever yet went unpunished.
To this point we intend to invite your serious attention in this discourse. The expression in our text, “till thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men,” does not only imply a knowledge of the existence of a Supreme Intelligence, who governs the world, but an obedience to the moral laws of his empire. On this proposition we purpose to offer a few rational, and not only rational, but irresistible arguments. We will first notice the condition of those who are guilty of heinous crimes, and then come down to the common walks of life, and bestow a few remarks on those who are indifferent about their condition, and only guard their conduct so far as comports with the customs and manners of that portion of the community, who have no higher principle of action than to be considered respectable among men.