« ZurückWeiter »
existence, could not produce itself; since it is destitute of those perfections, which other beings enjoy ; much less could it create another. And since man is happily endued with all those excellent faculties abovementioned, there must be a power without him, the fountain of all perfection, that gave being, and a moral apprehension to him, who once did not even exist, and made each order of creatures perfect in its kind; otherwise nothing must for ever have continued to be nothing : but there is an infinite distance between the most simple being and non-existence. There was therefore a first cause, whom we adore under the most venerable title of the infinitely glorious JehovAH ;—the Lord God, blessed for ever.
But now let us take a survey, first of the heavenly bodies, which, though they have a perpetual and rapid motion, observe the greatest regularity imaginable. Can this be owing to chance ? --If so, why have they not, through chance, stood still in the revolution of so many ages ? Besides, chance creates nothing but confusion ; Whereas they observe an exact order in all their motions.—What! do they move themselves ?-Doubtless, no; it would be the grofleit abfurdity to suppose they could. They are in the lowest scale of existence, and have neither life, fense, or reason, and must therefore be actuated by some powerful and intelligent being, in whose hands they are mere machines, and whose attributes they attest.—Thus to compare great things with small, whenever we examine the workmanship of any curious piece of mechanism, our admiration rises from one spring to another, till at last we are gradually brought to reflect on the art and contrivance of the man by whom it was made.
So these considerations naturally and necessarily lead us to a first mover, and this harmony to a Being infinitely regular, and these finite bodies to an infinite fpirit, the Father of lights, and soul of the universe, in comparison of whom all the nations of the
earth are as the drop of the bucket, and the small dust of the balance.--Yes !
" These are thy glorious works, parent of good,
- " These declare
Such must be the voice of universal reason, whenever we consider the heavens, the work of his fingers, the moon and stars which he.' hath ordained.
SECTION II. IF we descend to this earth, that comparatively little spot, we cannot but observe, that the grass, trees, fruits, fishes, reptiles, birds, and each creature is so complete in its kind, that nothing is either deficient or redundant.-Is this owing to the elements ? Can they give life and sense, which they want themselves ?-Or, did the sun communicate to them these excellencies ?--Evidently, no.Here the voice of gratitude must incessantly proclaim to man, furrounded with all things conducive to his comfort, convenience and pleasure ;-BEHOLD THE GOODNESS OF THY GOD!-Surely vain, and utterly inexcusable are all men, who do not, out of these good. things, that are every moment felt and seen, know him that is, and alone necessarily exists ; neither, by enjoying the works, acknowledge the work-master ; but absurdly rest in second causes; either fire, or wind, or the swift air, or the circle of the stars, or the violent water, or the lights of heaven; with whose beauty and usefulness, if they be delighted, let them know how much better the. Lord of them is.-For by these is the maker of them feen.
To all this, new and irresistible force will be added, if we con- . sider how almost infinitely the creatures around us are varied and
diversified. Where is that skilful botanist, who can enumerate all the hidden qualities of the vegetable world?
Some plants are naturally hot ; others cold ;—some sweet; others bitter ;-some serve for our food; others for our physic:- some are poison to us; others, though they grow, perhaps, in the same bed, are approved antidotes against it.
Contemplate his condescension to man, in the economy of animals: -The savage beast, frequent the most solitary deserts; conscious, is it were, that their society would be dangerous; whereas those that are tame, and serviceable to us naturally affect to herd together.
- Thou sceptic !-Can this proceed from chance ?-You insist, that the sun observes but his stated course when he warms the rarth ; that the air moistens it in like manner, which is accidentalJy serviceable to plants, as they are to animals, and animals to men, particular beings to one another and the universe to all ;—But whence proceeds this chain of causes? If things were from eternity self-existent, how came this subordination ?-When did they enter into covenant one with another? How could some agree to be subfervient to others ?—How did they exist originally ? In a seed, flower, or grain, &c? Were they great or small? Which preceded, and which succeeded? For animals cannot sublift without plants; nor they without the earth ; nor can she bring forth her fruit without the benign influence of the heavenly bodies. If they were all produced at once, how came so many, and such different Beings to agree?--At the bare mention of infinite wisdom and goodness, all these difficulties,--upon the infidel plan utterly inexplicable, are resolved at once.—Yes; none but an unwise man doth not consider this ;--and none but a fool cannot understand it.
If we cast our eyes on the portrait of a friend, we naturally and immediately reflect on the artist who drew it. Now if a picture, which can but look, a voice yet directs our minds to the living agent, by whose skill it was painted ; much more Tould the exqui
site workmanship and curious composition of the man himself induce us to contemplate, and pay divine adoration to his Maker ?
And thus evident to common sense are not only his eternal power, his omniscience and omnipotence; but all the invisible things of his godhead, even every moral attribute :-by the things that are made, we see the former ; by the manner in which they are made and exist, we see the latter. Man alone may here stand forth as a demonstration of both.
The frame and structure of man's body is so admirably contrived, that the most celebrated artists borrow from it all their ideas of symmetry and proportion, and the dependance of every part on one another; and of each particular on the whole, is an incontestible proof of an intelligent Being; for how can a work, which displays all the beauties of contrivance result from chance? The vulgar, indeed, attribute the loss of an arm, eye, leg, or any other member to accident or chance; but when they see the lame walk, or the blind receive their sight, they readily exclude chance, and acknowledge the patient's cure to be owing to the skilful operations of the surgeon, or oculist. . Again, with our senses, we see, hear, feel, taste and smell. Now the same Being that made sensible objects, furnished us with our senses ; for the former would be of no use without the latter ; nor the latter without the former. And since they have so close a connexion with one another, which were first produced ?--If man made sensible objects, why does he not continue to exercise his creating power?-Or, if he gave himself his fenfes, why does he ever lose them? They were, doubtless, the effects of a superior cause. And why has he a faculty of speech but to communicate his thoughts ?--Now; did he make himself a sociable creature? And since he is happily distinguished from the rest of the creation by his rational endowments, must he not be chiefly designed for rational exercises and entertainments ? -All these are but so many arVol. III. Cy!
guments of the divine goodness. For what could have induced him to create, and call out of the woinb of nothing such an infinitude of felf-conscious and intelligent Beings, but that he inight have fit objects to communicate some portion of his happiness to ?-Uninterrupted experience must convince all, who have not extinguished every spark of gratitude within them, that such was the benevolent design of God: fo fearfully and wonderfully are we made that our preservation seems to be little less than one continued series of miracles.
Not only our senses are all made capable of pleasure from external objects; but our fouls enjoy a kind of delegated power of creating objects, which, though they exist but in thought, impart the highest and most exquisite entertainment and satisfa&tion to our rational, immortal, and spiritual nature. Short-fighted man! canst thou look no further than thy natural parents for these distinguishing gifts ?—The very contexture and symmetry of thy bones were as absolutely hid from them, when they were the casual instruments of thy existence, as though they had been made secretly, and fashioned beneath in the earth.-Did their eyes see, or their contrivance mould thy substance, yet being imperfect, or in their book were all thy members designed, which day by day were falhioned, when as yet there were none of them?
Could they, from whose foul every vestige of original rectitude wa's perhaps obliterated by habitual immorality ; could they impart to thee a mind, on which the distinction of just and unjust, virtue and vice, is so deeply engraven, that the moment thy natural faculties enabled thee to look inwards, thou lawest the great out-lines of universal duty ?-No ;--this must be an emanation from uncreated excellence; the Divinity himself that stirs within us, and intimates his own eternal justice.—Nay, the more important those duties are which our future existence may require, the greater is their evidence and clearnefs ; and the more vigorously do cur natural sentinients