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mities, and, before an age could pass, must have returned to its primitive chaos..
It must be granted, to be sure, that the same divine power chat created all things in the beginning, might have commanded that they should continue in the same regularity and order to the end of time, without the continual interposition of Providence to support them. So indeed the Almighty, if he pleased, miglit «still create man at full stature, as he did Adam : but, is it a reason because he could, that he ought to do so? He might have ordered the Garden of Eden to have produced all the necessaries of life, and to have retained its primitive verdure and prolific quality, without being cultivated by Adam: but, as it would have shared the fate of all gardens being neglected, which are always over-run with weeds, and unfit for use 'till dressed and cleansed, so it is with this glorious fabric of the world, and the infinite variety of creatures in the upper and lower regions: they are not preserved in their original splendour and beauty without a divine superintendant: no, they are governed and supported by a power and providence, admirable and stupendous.
Besides, how is it consistent with the attributes of power and goodness to be present in every place, where many wise momentous things are to be done, and yet do nothing at all?
Action is the glory of every being. Idleness and ease are marks of weakness and imperfection. And, if it be more majestic in an earthly prince to exercise his power daily in
doing good, rather than to stifle it in an inglorious indolence, surely it must be a sublime degree of goodness in the King of Kings to sit at the helm of this floating universe, and to steer its motions with a steady and unerring hand.
We may, with as great propriety, imagine a sun in the firmament without heat or light, as a living God surrounding and penetrating all things, without ever exerting his active powers, or shedding forth his vital influence upon them.
Life is an active principle; and as God is the fountain of life, is ever active, and is in all places, he must, of course, operate every where: and, if he operates every where, that operation is a universal Providence.
All nations of the world, says holy David, shall remember and turn unto the Lord ; and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. And he assigns a reason for their so doing; for, says he, the kingdom is the Lord's; and he is the governor among the nations. But to what purpose do they worship him, if the Lord is not present? Or, if he is present, if he will not act nor concern himself about the affairs of this world, it must be a rain and idle thing to offer up any prayers to him; consequently the whole race of mortals, excepting a few professed atheists, must be branded with folly and stupidity.
As for his being gorernor among the nations, a log might answer the purpose as well if he does not exert his attributes. For what doth that wisdom signify that contrives nothing? or that power which performs nothing or that goodness which is good for nothing? or that justice which distributes nothing? In slfort, that Deity who hath neither wisdom, power, goodness, nor justice; or, which is the same thing, who makes no manner of use of them, is no better than a dead and senseless idol, unWorthy of the regard of a rational being.
But this general custom of prayer, which prevails in all nations, is a strong presumption, that there is a universal active mind which prompts mankind to rely upon and implore his protection : at least, it is a convincing proof that the world, in general, allows a divine Providence; and it was this religious persuasion that led the legislative body of this Island* to enact the solemn observance of this day. And if atheists and infidels (by whom, I mean those who deny a revelation) will but consult Plato, Socrates, and many other heathen die vines, upon this important point, they may, perhaps, be persuaded by those (though they despise the Christian who advises them) to lay aside their singularity, and to unite in the general opinion and practice. ....ti.
But, as for those who are Christians, and who, I would hope, entirely make up the present congregation, I must observe, that next to the existence of God, and the veracity of his word, the belief of his real Providence enlarges the mind, and gives us a just apprehension of
asida ise, the Chrsuaded b
that power by which we are daily surrounded and protected. : And, therefore, in the further prosecution of this subject, I shall endeavour to demonstraté as brief as possible, that : angels and men, both good and evil, are under the peculiar governa: ment, and controul of the Almighty : that the celestial lamináries, the sun, moon, and stars, are kept in their regular course and order by bis infinite wisdom and power that the earth, the air, and the seas, with all their stores and furnitures, are so far from being beneath his notice, that he often excites them to move and act to the astonishment and conviction of the most hardened of the sons of men.
In order to this, I shah have recoarse to those shcred records which are the foundation of our faith, as they should be of our practice.. ...
We have a great variety of beautiful hints and descriptions of God's universal rule in the boly scriptures, particularly in the Book of Psalms. The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all. Bless the Lord all ye his wigels, that excel in strength, that do his commodments, hearkening to the voice of his word. Bless the Lord all ye hris hosts, ve ministers that do his pleasure. Bless the Lord, all his works, in alt places of his dominions. But in the 148th Psalm we are called upon, in a most pathetic and elegant manner, to praise the Lord. There the glorious angels in the heights of heaven are called upon ; together with the sun, moon, and stars of light: The heaven of heavens, and
waters that are above the heavens, dragons and all deeps : fire and hail, show and tapourt, storms and tempest z beasts and all cattle, creeping things and flying fowl: kings, princes, and judges of the earth: young men and maindens, old men and children, are excited to praise thie Lord; whose glory is above the earth and heavensis who is righteous in all his ways, and hoty in alt his works; who fulfilleth the desire of them that fear him; will also hear their cry and will jave them.
So that here is a general summons to the whole universe; and a particular encouragement to all the rational inhabitants thereof to pay their homage to their awful Maker and Governor. ;
It may not be improper to observe to you, that it has been, and is still the opinion of many learned and judicious men, that God disa poses and conducts most of the remarkable events and occurrences of this lower world by the agency of invisible spirits.
Many of the ancient philosophers being at a loss to account for the origin of evil'; through what contingency, necessity, or permission it first came ; and being once come, should still continue in the world; 'have ascribed it to the clashing and alternately prevailing power of good and evil spirits; and this opinion is strongly supported in divers places of the sacred writings : for as to the good angels, they are expressly called the ministers of the Lord, that do his pleasure. And we have very early acbouuts of those glorious agents being employed