Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

Ocean, to supply every Thing with necessary Moisture, and make the Communication of the most distant Parts easy: that hath surrounded the Earth with Air for us to breathe in, to convey our Voices to each other, and to support Clouds for Rain : that hath caused this Air to be moved by Winds, which preserve it healthful : and bring those, who go down to the Sea in Ships, unto the Haven where they would bed : that hath placed the Sun at fo exact a Distance from us, that we are neither burnt up by Heat, nor frozen by Cold; and hath kept Bodies of such incredible Bulk, as the heavenly ones, rolling on, for thousands of Years together, with so orderly and exact a Motion, that the Returns of Day and Night, and of the various annual Seasons, are precisely foreknown; and perfectly suitable for Labour and Reft, and bringing the Fruits of the Earth to Maturity: whereas were almost any one of these Things confiderably altered, we must all of Necessity perish.

But then, how small a Part of the Universe our Habitation may be; and how many, perhaps greater, Wonders the rest may contain ; we cannot so much as conjecture. The Millions of Miles, that are between us, and the nearest of the celestial Globes, would be astonishing, if mentioned to you. Yet their Distance is as nothing, if compared with the farthest, which we fee: and very possibly the farthest, which we see, may be as nothing to many others : every one of which, we have no Reason to doubt, is as full of Regularity, and Beauty, and Use, as our own Abode. And from what Origin can the whole of this proceed, but that which the Pfalmift rapturoully expresses: O Lord, how manifold are thy Works! in Wisdom haft thou made them all e

To speak of Chance, as the Cause of them, is absurd beyond measure. Chance is merely a Word, to express our own ignorance: it is nothing, and can do nothing. Suppose one of us were asked, how this Building, in & Pfal, cvii. 23, 3.

• Pfal. civ. 34.

3

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

which we are assembled, or the smallest part of the Dress which we wear, came to be what it is; and should answer that no Person made it, but it jumped together and held together by Chance; would not this be gross Folly? And how shockingly foolish must it be then, to give the same Account of the Existence of a whole World so admirably contrived, adjusted and conducted throughout! As evidently therefore as any common Piece of Work proves a Workman to have composed it, so evidently, and very much more, the immense Fabric of the Universe proves a Being of unspeakable Power and Skill to be the Creator of it.

And accordingly, the Belief of a wise and mighty Author of all hath been received in every Age and Nation: which clearly thews it to be founded in Truth, and written in the Hearts of Men. They corrupted it gradually indeed : first, by unworthy Representations of the true God, then by adding the Worship of false Gods, which at length excluded him. But undeniably the primitive Notion was that of an invisible Mind, the Maker and Ruler of this visible Frame : which being plainly under one uniform Direction, thews itself to have one only sovereign Director and Governor. This Doctrine God himself must have taught our first Parents in the Beginning : He hath confirmed it fince by Miracles from Time to Time: and perpetuated the Evidence of it in his holy Word.

That he is not perceived by any of our Senses, is. no Objection at all against bis Being. For our Minds also are imperceptible by Sense. But as they, notwithstanding, Inew their Existence by moving and disposing of our Bodies according to their Pleasure ; fo doth God shew his, by moving and disposing of all Things as he wills. And the same Argument proves his Presence with all Things. For wherever he acts, there he certainly is : and iherefore he is every where. Our Presence is limited, and extends a very little Way: but what is there to limit him? Our Being is derived from his Command ; and therefore depends on it still: but he is

un :

underived ; and therefore independent absolutely. Our Powers are only what he hath thought fit to give us : but bis Power is infinite : for every Thing depending on him, nothing can resist him. Our Knowledge is every Way imperfect : but he who made all Things, and is present with all Things, must in the completest Manner know all Things, even the most hidden Thoughts of the Heart. We are often unjust and wicked: but God cannot be otherwise than just and holy. For the only Reasons of our failing to do right are, that we either perceive not what is so, or else are tempted to act contrary to our Perceptions : but God is subject to no Mistake, or Weakness of any Kind. And, which is the happiest Attribute of all for his Creation, be must be likewise good. For Goodness is plainly a right Thing; and therefore he must see it to be so: it is plainly a Perfection ; and therefore the perfecteft Being must possess it in the highest Degree. We should be always good ourselves, if nothing misled us : and him nothing can mislead. But the most valuable Proof is, that we experience his Goodness : for we live in a World full of it. All that we enjoy, and every Capacity of Enjoyment that we have, proceeds from him. Most of what we suffer proceeds from our own Faults and Follies. And so much of it as comes wholly from his Providence, is designed for our present Improvement and future Reward ; unless by obstinate Milbehaviour we become unfit for Reward : and then we have only ourselves to blame. For as God is knowing and wise; he cannot but observe the Difference between good Persons and bad : as he is just and holy; he cannot take Pleasure in those, who are otherwise : and as he is the Governor of the World; he cannot fail to thew his Displeasure in that effectual Manner, which the Ends of Government require. And they certainly do require the bad to be punished, as well as the good to be made happy

Such then is the Nature of God: to whom in the Creed the Name of Father is given, as he is both the

Father

Father of the Creation by forming it, and also the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and through him our gracious and reconciled Father, as shall hereafter be explained. The next Word, Almighty, denotes, not barely his irresistible Power, but principally that rightful and absolute Authority, with which his Kingdom zuleth over allf. And the last Words of the Description, Maker of Heaven and Earth, are added ; partly to express the Ground of that Authority, his being the Creator, and therefore the Proprietor of the World; and partly in Opposition to the Errors of the Heathen, who worshipped many Beings in the Heavens and the Earth, as Gods: which, in these Terms of our Creed, are by evident Consequence declared to be no Gods, because they are che Work of his

Hands, of whom and through whim and to whom are all Things 8.

The Duties, owing to this our awful Sovereign, will be specified in expounding the Ten Commandments, particularly the first. At present therefore I shall only beg you to remember the Apostle's Exhortation : Take Heed, Brethren, left there be in any of you an evil Heart of Unbelief, in departing from the living Godh. Nothing, but an evil Heart, can make Unbelief desirable, or even supportable. For to every good Heart it must be the greatest Joy, to know that the World is governed by infinite Wisdom, Justice, and Goodness; and the greatest Afiction, to have any Doubt of it. If therefore you find the Thought of such a Governor unwelcome; if you could inwardly with there were none; be assured, your Heart is not righti. And though you could, with such a Disposition, bring yourself, almost or completely, to imagine there is none : what possible Security can shutting your Eyes give you against Danger ; or what Excuse can wilfully denying God make for disobeying him ?

But then observe further, that fuppofing you do not disbelieve a God at all, yet if you never think of him,

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

this is not, to any good Purpose, believing in him at all: and if you think of him but seldom, it is believing in him but little. He, on whom we depend continually, to whom we owe Duty continually, in whose Presence we continually are, ought never to be far from our Thoughts : but we should set him before our Eyes lo constantly, as to live in his Fear always. Doing this needs not keep us from common Business; it needs not keep us from innocent Pleasures. But it ihould influence us all effectually, (and happy are we, if it doth) to conduct ourselves in every Thing, as Persons who act under the Inspection of a wise and just Superior: whom we may indeed forget, if we will; but shall be remembered by him : from whom we may depart, but cannot efcape. In our Choice it is, whether we will be the better or the worse for him. But one we muft: and that beyond Expreffion. For God will bring every Work into Judgment, with every secret Thing; whether it be good, or whether it be evilk.

* Eccl. xii. 14.

L E C T U R E

VII.

T

CRE E D. Article II. And in Jesus Christ bis only Son

our Lord. 10 believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of

Heaven and Earth, is the universal Creed of Nature and Reason. But divine Revelation adds further Professions to it; of which the first is, that of Faith in our ever blessed Redeemer : whose Direction was, re believe in God: believe also in me. Therefore, that we may believe in him as we ought, he is described, in the Creed, by his Name and Offices, his Relation to God and to us.

• John xiv. 1.

с

I. His

« AnteriorContinuar »