« AnteriorContinua »
ferent to them: we contract a sort of insensibility, which makes us blind to their beauty, and deaf to the voice that would delight and instruct us. Thus, the revolutions of the seasons, and of one day and one year after another, are regarded as things of course, without interesting the mind, or fixing the attention. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night teacheth knowledge; but their voice is not heard amidst the clamours of passion, and the noise and bustle of the world. In the more immediate presence of God, and assembled as we are for the express purpose of raising our thoughts from earth to heaven, from time to eternity, let us attend to the silent but persuasive eloquence of the appearance here presented to our consideration, and endeavour to enter into the reflections which arise from it. These I shall attempt to lay before you, and conclude with a practical improvement of the subject. And may the Spirit of God seal instruction upon our hearts, and make us wise unto salvation.
I. The first thing we learn from the revolution of day and night is, the almighty power of the Creator and Preserver of the universe.
When we take a transient survey of the fabric that surrounds us, we are struck with the display of the almighty power by which it was called into existence. The prodigious orbs that roll over our heads, the earth on which we live, the immense ocean, the hills and vallies, the rivers and streams, the trees and fruits; the beasts of the field, the
fowls of the air, and every living thing; all that we behold, and infinitely more than we can discern or conceive, rose into being and order at the command of God. He said, and it was done; he com
manded, and it stood fast.
The very act of creation, or the producing of any being out of nothing, gives us the most enlarged idea of Omnipotence: and when we think that the visible system of the universe was created by the word of the Almighty, we are filled with admiration of his boundless power. Behold the heaven, and the heaven of heavens is thine; the earth also, with all that is therein: for thou didst speak, and they were created; and thou upholdest all things by the word of thy power.-The Almighty not only at first created, but continually upholds the works of his hands. His mighty energy is constantly displayed in the preservation of all the creatures he hath made. Were he to remit his care of them for a single moment, all things would be thrown into confusion, or rather sink into annihilation. If the laws of nature are deemed sufficient to account for the preservation of the system of the universe, we ask, What are these laws, but the constant and unremitting agency of the God of nature? The more attentively we consider the matter, the greater reason we see to reject the supposition, that the several parts of the universe being once formed, and put in motion, may pursue their course and preserve their order without the immediate influence and agency of the Creator. For this earth, and the other great bodies in the
system of the universe, are, in their nature, inac tive, as all matter is, and, therefore, require some external force impressed upon them, as long as they continue in motion. And, therefore, every time the earth places us under the beams of the sun, or withdraws us from them, we may, and ought to consider, that the divine power is as much concerned in producing these regular effects, as in creating all things at first. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: He calleth them all by names, by the greatness of his might. He doth in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, according to his pleasure.The Lord reigneth; he is clothed with majesty.-Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty! Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy
II. The revolution of day and night reminds us also of the goodness of God.
The divine goodness is manifested throughout every part of the world we inhabit, and, as far as we can judge, throughout every part of the uni verse. And what a magnificent idea does this consideration present to our minds of the great Creator! The vast creation-worlds, which no man can number, all stored with the means of enjoyment and happiness all called into being, and continually preserved and blessed, by infinite goodness! But we must descend from this lofty contemplation, which so far transcends our present
faculties. Let us rather fix our thoughts on this lower world which we inhabit. Planned by unerring wisdom, and executed with inimitable skill, it is full of the riches of the divine goodness. Replenished with innumerable living creatures, all of which exactly answer the purposes for which they were intended, it affords a striking proof of the gracious care and kindness of the Creator, who feeds, protects, and cherishes them, He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things. He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry. The earth is full of his riches; so is the great and spacious sea, wherein are creatures innumerable. These all wait upon him, and he giveth them their meat in due season.
Let us attend more particularly to man, the noblest work of God in this world.-Every faculty of our nature, and every circumstance of our condition, afford abundant evidence of the goodness of God. The faculty of reason raises us in the scale of existence far above all creatures merely animal, and connects us with those exalted beings, whose spiritual nature fits them for access to the immediate presence of God. In consequence of this distinguishing faculty of our nature, we are blessed with moral perception: we know what is right, and what is wrong: we perceive a difference between truth and falsehood, and are conscious of a distinction which should be made in our own actions, and in the actions of others. And in exercising our mental powers in those operations which depend upon reason, we find that the exercise is
accompanied with pleasure. Hence the familiar expressions of the pleasures of imagination, of memory, of taste: hence the pleasure which results from the discovery of any interesting truth: hence the tear of sensibility upon the recital of any deed more than usually generous and beneficent: and hence the peace passing all understanding which fills the heart of that man who recognizes his interest in the mercy and favour of God, through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.-In the scheme of redeeming grace unfolded in the gospel, we have the most illustrious display of the divine benignity which men or angels ever witnessed. When we had rebelled against God, forfeited every claim to his favour, and subjected ourselves to misery and ruin, he did not inflict the merited punishment, but sent his only-begotten Son to bring us back to the knowledge and practice of our duty, to redeem us from the sufferings of guilt by his voluntary death in our stead, and even to confer upon us privileges and enjoyments far surpassing those of an earthly paradise which we had lost by our apostasy. And if we consider ourselves as creatures in a state of trial, we find ourselves furnished with all the direction, assistance and encouragement, that such a state requires. The volume of divine inspiration is spread before us to guide us in the way everlasting; and as we are constantly surrounded with temptations and dangers which we can neither foresee nor prevent, the effectual aids of divine strength and protection are promised to our fervent prayers and faithful endeavours,