« PreviousContinue »
how much labour and difficulty human power performs its inconsiderable works; what time it costs to rear them; and how easily, when reared, they are destroyed; the very idea of creating power overwhelms the mind with awe. Let us look around, and survey this stupendous edifice, which we have been admitted to inhabit. Let us think of the extent of the different climates and regions of the earth; of the magnitude of the mountains, and of the expanse of the ocean. Let us conceive that immense globe which contains them, launched at once from the hand of the Almighty; made to revolve incessantly on its axis, that it might produce the vicissitudes of day and night; thrown forth, at the same time, to run its annual course in perpetual circuit through the heavens: after such a meditation, where is the greatness, where is the pride of man? Into what total annihilation do we sink before an omnipotent Being! Who is not disposed to exclaim, Lord, what is man, that thou art mindful of him ; or the son of man, that thou shouldest visit him! When compared with thee, all men are vanity : their works are nothing: - Reverence, and humble adoration, ought spontaneously to arise. He who feels no propensity to worship and adore, is dead to all sense of grandeur and majesty; has extinguished one of the most natural feelings of the human heart. Know the Lord, that he is God, we are all his people ; the workmanship of his hands. Let us worship and bore down. Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
Of all titles to legislation and rule, none is so evident and direct as that of a Creator. The conviction is felt in every breast, that he who gave us being hath an absolute right to regulate our conduct.
This gives a sanction to the precepts of God, which the most hardened dare not controvert. When it is a Creator and a Father that speaks, who would not listen and obey ? Are justice and humanity his declared laws; and shall we, whom but yesterday he called from the dust, and whom to-morrow he can reduce into dust again, presume, in contempt of him, to be unjust or inhuman ? Are there any little interests of our own, which we dare to erect, in opposition to the pleasure of him who made us ? Fear ye not me? saith the Lord; will ye not tremble at my presence, who have placed the sand for the bound of the sea, by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it ; who stretch forth my hand over the earth, and none hindereth?
At the same time, the power of a Creator is encouraging, as well as awful. While it enforces duty, it inspires confidence under aflliction. It brings to view a relation, which imports tenderness and comfort; for it suggests the compassion of a father. In the time of trouble, mankind are led, by a natural impulse, to fly for aid to Him, who knows the weakness of the frame which he has made; who remembers we are dust; and sees the dangers with which we are environed. “I am thine ; for thou " hast made me : forsake not the work of thine “ own hands,” is one of the most natural ejaculations of the distressed mind.-How blessed are the virtuous, who can rest under the protection of that powerful arm, which made the earth and the heaven? The omnipotence which renders God so awful, is to them a source of joy. In the whole compass of nature, nothing is formidable to them, who firmly repose their trust in the Creator. To
them, every noxious power can be rendered harmless; every threatened evil, if not averted, can be transformed into good. In the Author of nature, they find not only the author of their being, but their protector and defender, the lifter up of their heads. Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help; whose hope is in the Lord his God; which made heaven and earth; the sea and all that therein is; which keepeth truth for ever. *
II. The work of creation is the display of su
It carries no character more conspicuous than this. If, from the structure and mechanism of some of the most complicated works of human art, we are led to high admiration of the wisdom of the contriver, what astonishment may fill our minds, when we think of the structure of the universe? It is not only the stupendous building itself which excites admiration, but the exquisite skill with which the endless variety of its parts are adapted to their respective purposes: insomuch that the study of nature, which, for ages, las employed the lives of so many learned men, and which is still so far from being exhausted, is no other than the study of divine wisdom displayed in the creation. .
The farther our researches are carried, more striking proofs of it every where meet us.
The provision made for the constant regularity of the universe, in the disposition of the heavenly bodies, so that in the course of several thousand years, nature should ever exhibit the same useful and grateful variety in the returns of light and darkness, of summer and winter; and ever furnish food and habitation to all the animals that people the earth; must be a lasting theme of wonder to every reflecting mind.
* Psalm cxlvi. 3, 6.
But they are not only the heavens that declare the glory of God, and the
firmament that showeth forth his handy-work. In the most inconsiderable, as well as in the most illustrious works of the Creator, consummate art and design appear. There is not a creature that moves, nor a vegetable that grows, but when minutely examined furnishes materials of the highest admiration. The same wisdom that placed the sun in the centre of the system, and arranged the several planets around him in their order, has no less shown itself in the provision made for the food and dwelling of every bird that roams the air, and every beast that wanders in the desert; equally great, in the smallest, and in the most magnificent objects; in the star, and in the insect; in the elephant, and in the fly, in the beam that shines from heaven, and in the grass that clothes the ground. Nothing is overlooked. Nothing is carelessly performed. Every thing that exists is adapted, with perfect symmetry, to the end for which it was designed. All this infinite variety of particulars must have been present to the mind of the Creator ; all beheld with one glance of his eye; all fixed and arranged, from the beginning, in his great design, when he formed the heavens and the earth. Justly may he exclaim with the Psalmist, How excellent, O Lord, is thy name in all the earth! How manifold are thy works ! In wisdom hast thou made them all. No man can find out the work that God maketh, from the beginning to the end. Such knowledge is too wonderful for us. It is high; we cannot attain unto it.
This wisdom displayed by the Almighty in the creation, was not intended merely to gratify curiosity, and to raise wonder. It ought to beget profound submission, and pious trust in every heart.
It is not uncommon for many who speak with rapture of creating wisdom, to be guilty at the same time, of arraigning the conduct of Providence. In the structure of the universe, they confess that all is goodly and beautiful. But in the government of human affairs, they can see nothing but disorder and confusion. Ilave they forgotten, that both the one and the other proceed from the same author? Have they forgotten, that he who balanced all the heavenly bodies, and adjusted the proportions and limits of nature, is the same who hath allotted them their condition in the world, who distributes the measures of their prosperity and adversity, and fixes the bounds of their habitation? If their lot appear to them illsorted, and their condition hard and unequal, let them only put the question to their own minds, Whether it be most probable that the great and wise Creator hath erred in his distribution of human things, or that they have erred in the judgment which they form concerning the lot assigned to them? Can they believe, that the divine artist, after he had contrived and finished this earth, the habitation of men, with such admirable wisdom, would then throw it out of his hands as a neglected work? would suffer the affairs of its inhabitants to proceed by chance; and would behold them, without concern, run into misrule and disorder ? Where were then that consistency of conduct, which we discover in all the works of nature, and which we cannot but ascribe to a perfect Being ?
My brother! when thy plans are