Imatges de pÓgina

more and more, is a sure path to holiness, and a most powerful incentive to exert every possible effort to practise it with dili. gence. Even an indistinct and limited knowledge of the wisdom and goodness of the Almighty, such a knowledge as we may acquire here below, must fill our hearts with comfort and joy. God, in the glories of the gospel dispensation, is the God of mercy, the God of peace. What measures of benignity! What effusions of grace! He is amiable, adorable, beyond all expression, all conception : our language has no terms, our hearts have no sentiments adequate to this sublime subject.

We may reasonably suppose, that all the endeavours which we employ upon earth to know God, shall not be lost to us in heaven ; and that those who in this world shall acquire the best knowledge of him, will have, at their entrance into the habitations of glory, the qualities most requisite for seeing him as he is. Every man who has not been bewildered by false information, who has steadfastly followed, through the interposing mists of error, those rays of light which God has diffused through the universe ; and, above all, he who, favoured with that shining light displayed in the gospel, shall constantly have employed it as a guide to direct him into the paths of truth ;-in a word, every man who, uninfluenced by prejudice, shall not have adopt. ed any of those systems which give us false notions of our Great God, notions injurious to the Divine Majesty, will have nothing to correct in the copy, which, faint as it is, now so much delights him. He sees God only as

He sees God only as “through a glass ;" he sees him only at a distance; yet, at least, his glass is true; if it represents the image faintly and “darkly," it does not represent it falsely; but when he shall enter into the regions of bliss, before the throne of God, he shall see him in the brightness of his glory. Happy here below, when we saintly discern him such as he is; how supremely blest shall we be, when we shall “ behold him face to face !" when we “ shall know even as also we are known !"



“We must acknowledge that there are heights which we cannot ascend, and there are depths which we cannot fathom; there are difficulties which we cannot solve, and mysteries which we cannot unravel, in almost every portion of the works of God. There is hardly an object that can strike our senses, which we can fully comprehend; or which does not contain within it, some secret which we cannot penetrate. The case is much the same whether we turn our thoughts to the superior, or to the inferior works of God. We may propose questions, in an endless variety in both cases, which will admit of no other answer than this; The wisdom which contrived, and the power which executed the work before us, originated with, and still resides in God.

We may turn our eyes and lift our thoughts to the starry heavens, and behold innumerable worlds floating in these illimitable fields of ether; and gaze with astonished rapture on these wonderful works of God. And while absorbed in the amazing appearance which we thus behold, we may ask--What power built that vast and magnificent canopy which now surrounds us? Who was it that spread out the heavens like a curtain ; and adorned the horrors of midnight with those lamps which shine through the vaults of heaven? What power was it that infused motion into those enormous masses? Who poised them upon their own centres, and commanded them to revolve in such stated periods, in such peculiar directions as we discover, and fixed those limits beyond which they have never presumed to pass? We can only answer to such questions—that the power and wisdom which shine with such radiant lustre in all, originated with, and still resides in God.

We may, indeed, attribute to secondary causes those motions and stations which we discover; we may talk of the powers of attraction, of the different densities of bodies, and of the nature of specific gravities; we may introduce a centripetal or a centri. fugal force; and we may descant upon the perihelion or aphelion of orbits; but what will this avail? The question still remains: Whence did matter derive those powers which we thus attribute

to it? It could not be from itself, because matter is restive and inert; and to suppose that any portion of motionless matter can or could beget motion, we must suppose motion prior to motion, which is a plain contradiction; and to suppose that the laws of nature were begotten by matter, we must suppose that matter had a power to create that power by which it is now governed, and that this power produced effects before it had a being! And if, to avoid these absurdities, we contend that those things had been from eternity, we only remove the absurdities from stage to stage.

If we confine our observations to the system in which our world is placed, endless questions will arise, sufficient to prove the infinite wisdom and the unlimited power, as well as the certain existence, of God. It was the combination of his wisdom and power, .whose existence we demonstrated in the last para. graph, that fixed the sun at such a peculiar distance from us; that inade his station and magnitude to correspond with such exactness, that we are refreshed without any annoyance, and enlightened without being dazzled; that we are warmed with out being injured, and that we feel the vicissitudes of seasons without experiencing any inconveniency. If the sun had been larger, or nearer to us, would have set the earth on fire. If it had been less, or at a greater distance from us, we should have been congealed under perpetual frosts: in the former case, we should have been consumed to ashes with his intolerable beams; and in the latter, we should have been frozen with excessive cold. Who fixed our constitutions, and suited our natures to the globe which we inhabit ; and fitted us for those variations which the seasons produce ? No answer can be given to any of these questions, unless we appeal to that power which originated with God, and which still resides in him.

Who impressed upon the earth which we inhabit, those strange motions which it constantly undergoes? Who made it revolve on its own ideal axis with such exact regularity; and made it take such a vast circle in the immensity of space? Who determined the times of those revolutions with such finished exactness, that no deviation has taken place from creation to the present hour. We see the fact before our eyes, and we have had an annual demonstration of its certainty for nearly six thousand years.

Can this arise from accident? Or can an effect exist without a cause? Or can any cause, which is inadequate, produce these effects; and must not every cause be inadequate, cx cepting God?

What cause has protruded this globe with all its appendages in that spiral circle which the ccliptic forms; and prevented it from wandering in a straight line through the immensity of space, and in which there is nothing but ether to obstruct its course? What wisdom and power, with united energy, have impelled it forward with such nice adjustment, that the latitude of every constellation, and of every star, is respectively preserved in every climate, in every latitude, and in every zone? Who assigned to the moon her periodical rotations, and caused her, as an attendant in waiting, to revolve round her primary in every part of her station, as she passes through her orbit in her journey round the sun! We can attribute these effects to no cause but God.

By whose wise disposal and appointment is it, amidst all the vicissitudes of the varying year, that day and night are equally distributed to every part of the terraqueous globe ; and distributed with such an impartial hand, that at the conclusion of the year, no climate can boast of a surplus, and no climate can complain of a deficiency of light or shade, or charge partiality on that cause by which the seasons move? Who appointed the moon to cheer us amid the horrors of midnight; and directed her to communicate light unto us, when the sun retires into the western hemisphere, to illuminate that portion of the globe ? Who contrived the place of her orbit with such nicety, and adjusted her motions with such exactness, as to cause those waxings and wanings, which are so conspicuous in every lunation? Who gave her an influence over the restless deep, and ordered her to extend her power over the tumultuous occan? Who placed under her do. minion the fluxes and refluxes of the tides, by which the waves are kept in constant motion, preserved from putrefaction, and rendered subservient to human life ? And, finally to what power, but that of God, can we attribute the motions of all the heavenly bodies? They perform their respective revolutions at periodical distances; and return to their respective stations with the most critical exactness; they preserve their latitudes and bearings without any deviations, while their magnitudes and distances are the same. And they all conspire to demonstrate the existence of a power which resides not in matter; and they display a de. gree of wisdom which nothing less than infinite can possess.



In those effects which result from matter, we are apt to imagine that we behold nothing which is either unaccountable or strange. We are led to conceive from that uniformity with which they appear, that they flow from the impulse of necessity; or that the reverse of what they are would be impossible, and involve a contradiction. But such conclusions can only result from an erroneous judgment. The uniformity of the effect may render it more familiar; and the indifference with which we have been accustomed to view it, may have blunted that astonishment which would otherwise be excited; but those effects which we deem nat. ural, are, in reality, as miraculous as their causes; and we can no more comprehend the one, than we can comprehend the other. We can no more comprehend how matter should adhere to any centre, than we can comprehend what the nature of that centre is; nor do we know how it is, that the earth and all the planets preserve their motions, any more than we know in what ways and manners motion was first impressed. It is true, that we perceive a certain proximity between this effect and that cause to which we have been accustomed to attribute it; but why any given cause should produce any given effect, we can no more comprehend, than we can tell why an ignitible composition should consume with fire sooner than one that is incombustible. Why water should pass through a defile or descend on a declevity ; why it should retire from the hills, and incline towards the sea, are points which we can no more determine ultimately, than we can determine upon the particular quantity and combination of particles which are necessary to constitute that soft element of which we speak. All to us is mystery; and effects, as well as causes, must be swallowed up in God; it is to his power that we must ultimately refer every thing; and all our researches into the book of nature, must terminate in Nature's God.

(To be concluded in the next.)


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

When the Reverend Andrew Kinsman, late Minister of the Gospel, at Plymouth-Dock, was once preaching in London, on the Lord's-Day, a heavy and unexpected shower of rain coming on, several Sabbath-breakers passing by at that instant, fed into

« AnteriorContinua »