We are aware, that this view of the subject, which seems to us too obvious to admit of controversy, opens the way, nevertheless, to an objection on the part of some persons, who will be disposed to excuse themselves in unbelief, on the ground that an opposite state is an involuntary one. Their language is, that they would like to believe; but that they are unable to do it without adequate evidence; intimating in the plea or excuse, which they offer, that the requisite evidence is not presented before them.
The answer to all pleas and excuses of this kind is the declaration, which our Heavenly Father himself has authorized, that God “has not left himself without witness.” Acts 14:15–17. “We preach unto you,” says the Apostle Paul, “that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein; who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless, he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”
The difficulty is not in involuntary belief, but in voluntary unbelief; in voluntarily, willfully, perseveringly shutting our eyes to those evidences of God’s existence, and of a supreme moral government, to which every object and every event bears testimony. God has not left himself without a witness in the structure of the human mind; he has not left himself without a witness in the beautiful array of nature’s works; he has not left himself without a witness in the wonderful succession of individual and national providences, which speak, trumpet-tongued, of eternal truth and eternal justice; he has not left himself without a witness in the long succession of consecrated and believing men, who, having the image of God, the divinity within them, were rightly commissioned to testify of him, whose image they bore. “The glorious company of the Apostles,” “the goodly fellowship of the Prophets,” “the noble army of the Martyrs,” “the holy Church throughout the world,” all persons in all ages of the world, of whatever country and of whatever name, who have borne the divine image, have been witnesses, eloquent witnesses for God.
— The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 4.