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the sensible part of the creation : And that this Being exists independent, necessarily, and therefore without beginning, absolutely and infinitely perfect, happy and
, glorious. And the more we attend to the creation, and examine the great works, the sun, moon and stars, or this globe on which we live, and the various ranks of creatures which come under our notice, the more clear and striking will be the evidence of design, and of the power, wisdom and goodness of the Creator.
And we ought hereby to be led sensibly to say with the Psalmist, “ O Lord, how manifold are thy works ! in wisdom hast thou made them all; the earth is full of thy riches." And may well join with the four and twenty Elders,
saying, thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and power; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are, and were created.”'
II. From what has been observed concerning the creation of man, his endowments and circumstances, we are led particularly to reflect upon the goodness of God to him, in making a world for him, every way furnished for his convenience and happiness ; in forming him for the moral world, by giving him understanding and moral liberty, in acting voluntarily in the view of moral motives ; thus making him a moral agent, capable of virtue or vice, of reward or punishment ; and therefore immortal, giving him an existence never to end. He made him lord of the world in which he was placed, giving him dominion over all the creatures in the earth and
He formed him in his own image, after his likeness, a perfectly holy creature, which is the highest excellence in the universe, by which he was united to his Creator in perfect love and friendship, enjoying a sweet and happy intercourse and intimacy with him.
In this happy state all mankind were created and placed; for, as has been observed, all the posterity of Adam were included in him, and what was done for him was done for all. And we ought to consider ourselves as originally placed in the happy state in which Adam was created. And if Adam was under obligation to exercise peculiar gratitude to his Maker for his wonderful goodness to him, we are to consider ourselves under the same obligation to gratitude for creating goodness, and
view all the kindness conferred on our first parents in their creation, as conferred on all their posterity. And if the apostasy of Adam, by which he fell from this happy state, and plunged into unspeakable wretchedness, did not dissolve his obligation to gratitude for the happy state in which he was at first placed, and the goodness of God to him herein, as it certainly did not ; then, notwithstanding his and our sin has rendered us miserable, we are not for this reason under the less obligation to gratitude for the goodness of God to us in our creation, and the happy state in which he placed mankind, in which Adam and all his race would have continued forever, had they not fallen from it, by rebellion against their Creator.
III. We are hence led to see, and reflect upon, the magnitude and aggravation of the crime of the first rebellion of man against God. Man's obligations were every way infinitely great to love and obey his Creator. The greatness, excellence and infinite worthiness of God, brought an infinite obligation on man to love and
His deriving his being wholly from God, and the consequent absolute propriety and right God had to him, increased his obligation to devote all he was and all he had to him, to his honour and service. And his particular and great goodness to man unspeakably increased his obligations to obedience, love and gratitude. And as it was his supreme happiness to love, serve and enjoy God, and in this way only he could secure to himself and his posterity perfect and eternal felicity, and by refusing to do this, must bring upon himself the infinite displeasure of his Maker, and sink into complete and eternal wo, with all his posterity ; this brought an immense addition of obligation on him, to love and obedience. *
• It has been thought by some, that to suppose every sin which men commit against God, is an infinite evil, or a crime infinitely great, is to make every sin of equal magnitude, and that, according to this, one crime cannot be greater and more aggravated than another. And this objection may arise in the minds of some readers, when they attend to this repre. sentation of the many aggravations of sin, by which the crime of it is increased, while it is at the same time asserted, that every sin is infinitely criminal, as it is committed against God.
All this may be easily obviated, only by observing, that every sin, and the deserved punishment of it, may be infinite in one respect ; and yet some VOL. I.
What finite mind can measure or comprehend the greatness, the aggravations of the crime, in man's vio. lating all these obligations, by rising in rebellion against his Creator and owner, and ungratefully abusing his infinite goodness to him! Surely the crime of this is unmeasurable by man or angels. We must pronounce it boundless, or infinite ; which can therefore be compre. þended by God alone, who has proclaimed the infinitude of it, by threatening it with infinite evil, even endless misery
CONCERNING DIVINE PROVIDENCE IN GENERAL.
DIVINE Providence consists in preserving, directing and governing all creatures and things which are made ; or in taking the most wise and effectual care of them, so as to make them answer the end for which they are created.
God preserves or upholds all things by his powerful word; by the constant exertion of the same power, by which they were at first created, or caused to exist. Every created thing is constantly and entirely dependent on the Creator, for continuance in existence. Should that power which first caused it to exist be withdrawn, , or cease to be exerted one moment, it would have no existence; it would cease to exist, and sink into its original nothing. It is impossible that a creature should be made, so as to exist one moment, in any respect or degree independent of the Creator ; it must be as really and as much dependent on him for continuance in existence, as for its first existence. Therefore preservation is a constant exertion of the same power which first pro
sins, and the just punishment of them, be unspeakably greater than others, there being in other respects a great difference. Two cords or cylinders may be considered as extended in length without end, or to be infinitely long, or of equal extension in length ; and yet differ greatly in their diameters ; and, in this respect, bave vastly different degrees of magnitude. Two men may be in pain, and yet one of them may suffer an unspeakably greater degree of pain, than the other ; and if the pain of each were continued without end, he who suffers the least would be doomed to infinite evil ; yet the other must suffer evil, unspeakably greater, every minute.
duced the existence of the creature, in causing or giving continual existence ; and is really continued creation.
Every part of creation, and each creature and thing in it, from the greatest down to the least, is not only constantly upheld by the exertion of the same power which first gave existence ; but is in all respects continually under the direction and governing power and care of the Creator, in every change, as to the place or manner of existence, and every motion, by which God or. ders, disposes and uses every thing in his creation, to accomplish his own infinitely wise and important designs. As God created alł things for himself, in order to accomplish his own designs, being formed according to his pleasure ; so he uses every thing, so as in the wisest and best manner to answer the end for which it was designed. If any the least thing were not so directed and used, as to answer the end designed, it would be created in vain; which is inconsistent with the wisdom and goodness of the Creator. God governs the world, and all things in it, by stated and fixed laws or rules, which are called the laws, or the course of nature, by which all motions and events take place, in a certain order, and constant series and connection of cause and effect. But this law, or course of nature, is nothing but divine power and wisdom constantly exerted, to cause things to take place in such a stated way and manner ; or the divine will, establishing such an order in events; and does not suppose any power in creatures, or any created thing, to cause suchomotions and events, aside from the immediate exertion of divine power, which is the proper efficient cause of every event : so that all power is in God, and all creatures which act, or move, exist and move, or are moved in and by him.
This fixed law and course of nature, which, as has been observed, is nothing but the divine will, wisely determined to operate in a certain, steady, fixed manner, by way of cause and effect, the same cause generally producing the same effect, is necessary in order to man's gaining any proper knowledge of things around him, and obtaining any prudence and wisdom, with regard to the objects with which he is concerned, and by which he is to regulate his conduct, form his plans and prose
pects ; and to excite his hopes, fears and exertions. Were there no settled order and fixed connection in things and events, there would be no foundation for all this, but man would be involved in total darkness and uncertainty, without any knowledge and wisdom to con. duct any of his affairs, or any motive to action, in mat. ters relating to his body. And in this established order and connection in the visible creation, not only the power, but the wisdom, and steady counsel, the goodness, truth and faithfulness of him who worketh all things by the counsel of his own will, are constantly manifested to man ; which is asserted in the sacred writings.
When this stated course of events, or these laws of nature, are interrupted and visibly counteracted, and events take place in a contrary manner ; these events are called miracles, though there is no more power necessary, or really exerted and manifested in these, than there is in producing events according to the ordinary course of things. No more power is necessary or man- . ifested in causing the sun to stand still, or move from West to East, than there is in causing it to keep a steady, uninterrupted course from East to West. The former would be a miracle, the latter is not. The Gov. ernor of the world may and does, for wise reasons, and to answer important ends, thus visibly counteract the general course of things and events; and that on such occasions, and in those instances and ways, as not to frustrate the general and important ends to be answered by the steady course of things, which he has established, And in how many instances among the inconceivable number and variety of events which take place, they are brought about and caused to exist just at such a time, and in such a manner, not according to any stated law, or course of things, no man can tell; as the agent, by whose constant energy all things are conducted, is in. vincible to us; and may act immediately, or by the in, strumentality of invisible agents ; and done, so as not visibly to counteract the stated laws or course of nature, or be the least obstruction to the ex. ercise of human wisdom and prudence, in every thing in which men are concerned. No one can doubt of this,