Page images

or war.

names which should never be mentioned, but with the utmost honour. It is said in Scripture, Fools make a mock at sin. * They had better make a mock at pestilence, at war, or famine. With one who should chuse these public calamities for the subject of his sport, you would not be inclined to associate. You would fly from him, as worse than a fool ; as a man of distempered mind, from whom you might be in hazard of receiving a sudden blow. Yet certain it is, that, to the great society of mankind, sin is a greater calamity, than either pestilence, or famine,

These operate, only as occasional causes of misery. But the sins and vices of men are perpetual scourges of the world. Impiety and injustice, fraud and falsehood, intemperance and profligacy, are daily producing mischief and disorder; bringing ruin on individuals; tearing families and communities in pieces; giving rise to a thousand tragical scenes on this unhappy theatre. In proportion as manners are vicious, mankind are unhappy. The perfection of virtue which reigns in the world above, is the chief source of the perfect blessedness which prevails there.

When, therefore, we observe any tendency to treat religion or morals with disrespect and levity, let us hold it to be a sure indication of a perverted understanding, or a depraved heart. In the seat of the scorner let us never sit. Let us account that wit contaminated, which attempts to sport itself on sacred subjects. When the scoffer arises, let us maintain the honour of our God, and our Redeemer; and resolutely adhere to the cause of virtue and goodThe lips of the wise utler knowledge ; but the mouth of the foolish is near to destruction. Him that honoureth God, God will honour. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; and he that keepeth the commandment, keepeth his own soul,

* Prov, xiv. 9.



On the CREATION of the WORLD.

GENESIS, i. 1. In the beginning God created the hearen and the


UCH is the commencement of the history of man-

kind; an æra, to which we must ever look back with solemn awe and veneration. Before the sun and the moon had begun their course ; before the sound of the human voice was heard, or the name of man was known; in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. To a beginning of the world, we are led back by every thing that now exists ; by all history, all records, all monuments of antiquity. In tracing the transactions of past ages, we arrive at a period, which clearly indicates the infancy of the human race. We behold the world peopled by degrees. We ascend to the origin of all those useful and necessary arts, without the knowledge of which mankind could hardly subsist. We discern society and civilization arising from rude beginnings in every corner of the earth ; and gradually advancing to the state in which we now find them : All which afford plain evidence, that there was a period, when mankind began to inhabit and cultivate the earth.

What is very remarkable, the most authentic chronology and history of most nations, coincides with the account of Scripture; and makes the period during which the world has been inha

bited by the race of men, not to extend beyond six thousand years.

To the ancient philosophers, creation from nothing appeared an unintelligible idea. They maintained the eternal existence of matter, which they supposed to be modelled by the sovereign mind of the universe into the form which the earth now exhibits. But there is nothing in this opinion which gives it any title to be opposed to the authority of Revelation. The doctrine of two self-existent, independent principles, God and matter, the one active, the other passive, is a hypothesis which presents difficulties to human reason at least as great as the creation of matter from nothing. Adhering then to the testimony of Scripture, we believe, that in the beginning Gol created, or from non-existence brought into being, the heaven and the earth.

But though there was a period when this giobe, with all that we see upon it, did not exist, we have no reason to think that the wisdom and power of the Almighty were then without exercise or employment. Boundless is the extent of his dominion, Other globes and worlds, enlightened by other suns, may then have occupied, they still appear to occupy, the immense regions of space. Numberless orders of beings, to us unknown, people the wide extent of the universe, and afford an endless variety of objects to the ruling care of the great Father of all. At length in the course and progress of his government, there arrived a period, when this earth was to be called into existence. When the signal moment, predestined from all eternity, was come, the Deity arose in his might; and with a word created the world. What an

What an illustrious moment was that,





when, from non-existence there sprang at once into being this mighty globe, on which so many millions of creatures now dwell! —No preparatory measures were required. No long circuit of means was employed. He spake ; and it was done : He commanded ; and it stood fast. The earth was, at first, without form, and void ; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. The Almighty surveyed the dark abyss; and fixed bounds to the several divisions of

He said, Let there be light ; and there was light. Then appeared the sea and the dry land. The mountains rose : and the rivers flowed. The sun and moon began their course in the skies. Herbs and plants clothed the ground. The air, the earth, and the waters, were stored with their respective inhabitants. At last, man was made after the image of God. He appeared, walking with countenance erect; and received his Creator's benediction, as the Lord of this new world. The Almighty beheld his work when it was finished; and pronounced it good. Superiour beings saw with wonder this new accession to existence. The morning stars sang together; and all the sons of God shouted for joy. *

But on this great work of Creation, let us not merely gaze with astonishment. Let us consider how it should affect our conduct, by presenting the divine perfections in a light which is at once edifying, and comforting to man. It displays the Creator as supreme in


in wisdom, and in goodness.

I. As supreme


When we consider with


* Job, xxxviii. 7.

« PreviousContinue »