Imatges de pÓgina
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Now mark the use to which all this has be the right answer to this objection, let us been turned by the genius of infidelity. previously observe, that it goes to strip the Such a humble portion of the universe as Deity of an attribute which forms a wonderours, could never have been the object of ful addition to the glories of his incompresuch high and distinguishing attentions as hensible character. It is indeed a mighty Christianity has assigned to it. God would evidence of the strength of his arm, that so not have manifested himself in the flesh for many millions of worlds are suspended on the salvation of so paltry a world. The it; but it would surely make the high attrimonarch of a whole continent, would never bute of his power more illustrious, if while move from his capital, and lay aside the it expatiated at large among the suns and splendour of royalty, and subject himself the systems of astronomy, it could, at the for months, or for years, to perils, and very same instant, be impressing a movepoverty, and persecution; and take up his ment and a direction on all the minuter abode in some small islet of his dominions, wheels of that machinery, which is workwhich, though swallowed by an earthquake, ing incessantly around us. It forms a nocould not be missed amid the glories of so ble demonstration of his wisdom, that he wide an empire; and all this to regain the gives unremitting operation to those laws lost affections of a few families upon its which uphold the stability of this great unisurface. And neither would the eternal Son verse; but it would go to heighten that of God-he who is revealed to us as having wisdom inconceivably, if while equal to the made all worlds, and as holding an empire, magnificent task of maintaining the order amid the splendours of which the globe that and harmony of the spheres, it was lavishwe inherit, is shaded insignificance; neither ing its inexhaustible resources on the beauwould he strip himself of the glory he had ties, and varieties, and arrangements, of with the Father before the world was, and every one scene, however humble, of every light on this lower scene, for the purpose one field, however narrow, of the creation he imputed to him in the New Testament. Im- had formed. It is a cheering evidence of possible, that the concerns of this puny ball, the delight he takes in communicating hapwhich floats its little round among an in- piness, that the whole of immensity should finity of larger worlds, should be of such be so strewed with the habitations of life mighty account in the plans of the Eternal, and of intelligence; but it would surely or should have given birth in heaven to so bring home the evidence, with a nearer and wonderful a movement, as the Son of God more affecting impression, to every bosom, putting on the form of our degraded did we know, that at the very time his be species, and sojourning among us, and nignant regard took in the mighty circle of sharing in all our infirmities, and crown- created beings, there was not a single famiing the whole scene of humiliation by the ly overlooked by him, and that every indidisgrace and the agonies of a cruel martyr-vidual in every corner of his dominions, dom. was as effectually seen to, as if the object of an exclusive and undivided care. It is our imperfection, that we cannot give our attention to more than one object at one and the same instant of time; but surely it would elevate our every idea of the perfec tions of God, did we know, that while his comprehensive mind could grasp the whole amplitude of nature, to the very outermost of its boundaries, he had an attentive eye fastened on the very humblest of its objects, and pondered every thought of my heart, and noticed every footstep of my goings, and treasured up in his remembrance every turn and every movement of my history.

This has been started as a difficulty in the way of the Christian Revelation; and it is the boast of many of our philosophical infidels, that by the light of modern discovery, the light of the New Testament is eclipsed and overborne; and the mischief is not confined to philosophers, for the argument has got into other hands, and the popular illustrations that are now given to the sublimest truths of science, have widely disseminated all the deism that has been grafted upon it; and the high tone of a decided contempt for the Gospel, is now associated with the flippancy of superficial acquirements: and, while the venerable Newton, whose genius threw open those mighty fields of contemplation, found a fit exercise for his powers in the interpretation of the Bible, there are thousands and tens of thousands, who, though walking in the light which he holds out to them, are seduced by a complacency which he never felt, and inflated by a pride which never entered into his pious and philosophical bosom, and whose only notice of the Bible, is to depreciate, and to deride, and to disown it.

Before entering into what we conceive to

And, lastly, to apply this train of sentiment to the matter before us; let us suppose that one among the countless myriads of worlds, should be visited by a moral pestilence, which spread through all its people, and brought them under the doom of a law, whose sanctions were unrelenting and immutable; it were no disparagement to God, should he, by an act of righteous indignation, sweep this offence away from the universe which it deformed--nor should we wonder, though, among the multitude of

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other worlds from which the ear of the Al-discovery, which should hasten our every conception of God, and humble us into the sentiment, that a Being of such mysterious elevation is to us unfathomable, is to sit in judgment over him, aye, and to pronounce such a judgment as degrades him, and keeps him down to the standard of our own paltry

mighty was regaled with the songs of praise, and the incense of a pure adoration ascended to his throne, he should leave the strayed and solitary world to perish in the guilt of its rebellion. But, tell me, oh! tell me, would it not throw the softening of a most exquisite tenderness over the charac-imagination! We are introduced by modern science to a multitude of other suns and of other systems; and the perverse interpretation we put upon the fact, that God can diffuse the benefits of his power and of his goodness over such a variety of worlds, is, that he cannot, or will not, bestow so much goodness on one of those worlds, as a professed revelation from Heaven has announced to us. While we enlarge the provinces of his empire, we tarnish all the glory of this enlargement, by saying, he has so much to care for, that the care of every one province must be less complete, and less vigilant, and less effectual, than it would otherwise have been. By the discoveries of modern science, we multiply the places of the creation; but along with this, we would impair the attribute of his eye being in every place to behold the evil and the good; and thus, while we magnify one of his perfections, we do it at the expense of another; and to bring him within the grasp of our feeble capacity, would deface one of the glories of that character, which it is our part to adore, as higher than all thought, and as greater than all comprehension.

The objection we are discussing, I shall state again in a single sentence. Since astronomy has unfolded to us such a number of worlds, it is not likely that God would pay so much attention to this one world, and set up such wonderful provisions for its benefit, as are announced to us in the Christian Revelation. This objection will have received its answer, if we can meet it by the following position:-that God, in aðdition to the bare faculty of dwelling on a multiplicity of objects at one and the same time, has this faculty in such wonderful perfection that he can attend as fully and provide as richly, and manifest all his attributes as illustriously, on every one of these objects, as if the rest had no existence, and no place whatever in his government or in his thoughts. For the evidence of this position, we appeal, in the first place, to the personal history of each individual among you. Only grant us, that God never loses sight of any one thing he has created, and that no created thing can continue either to be or to act independently of him; and then,

The thing is inconceivable to us, whose minds are so easily distracted by a number of objects; and this is the secret principle of the whole infidelity I am now alluding to. To bring God to the level of our own comprehension, we would clothe him in the impotency of a man. We would transfer to his wonderful mind all the imperfection of our own faculties. When we are taught even upon the face of this world, humble by astronomy, that he has millions of worlds as it is on the great scale of astronomy, how to look after, and thus add in one direction widely diversified and how multiplied into to the glories of his character; we take many thousand distinct exercises, is the ataway from them in another, by saying, that tention of God! His eye is upon every each of these worlds must be looked after hour of my existence. His spirit is intiimperfectly. The use that we make of a mately present with every thought of my

ter of God, should we see him putting forth his every expedient to reclaim to himself those children who had wandered away from him-and, few as they were when compared with the host of his obedient worshippers, would it not just impart to his attribute of compassion the infinity of the Godhead, that, rather than lose the single world which had turned to its own way, he should send the messengers of peace to woo and to welcome it back again; and, if justice demanded so mighty a sacrifice, and the law behoved to be so magnified and made honourable, tell me whether it would not throw a moral sublime over the goodness of the Deity, should he lay upon his own Son the burden of its atonement, that he might again smile upon the world, and hold out the sceptre of invitation to all its families?

We avow it, therefore, that this infidel argument goes to expunge a perfection from the character of God. The more we know of the extent of nature, should not we have the loftier conception of him who sits in high authority over the concerns of so wide a universe? But, is it not adding to the bright catalogue of his other attributes, to say, that, while magnitude does not overpower him, minuteness cannot escape him, and variety cannot bewilder him; and that, at the very time while the mind of the Deity is abroad over the whole vastness of creation, there is not one particle of matter, there is not one individual principle of rational or of animal existence, there is not one single world in that expanse which teems with them, that his eye does not discern as constantly, and his hand does not guide as unerringly, and his spirit does not watch and care for as vigilantly, as if it formed the one and exclusive object of his

attention.

heart. His inspiration gives birth to every | wide monarchy. Tell me, then, if, in any purpose within me. His hand impresses a one field of this province, which man has direction on every footstep of my goings. access to, you witness a single indication Every breath I inhale, is drawn by an en- of God sparing himself-of God reduced to ergy which God deals out to me. This languor by the weight of his other employbody, which, upon the slightest derangements-of God sinking under the burden ment, would become the prey of death, or of that vast superintendence which lies upon of woful suffering, is now at ease, because him-of God being exhausted, as one of he at this moment is warding off from me ourselves would be, by any number of cona thousand dangers, and upholding the thou-cerns, however great, by any variety of sand movements of its complex and delicate them, however manifold? and do you not machinery. His presiding influence keeps perceive, in that mighty profusion of wisby me through the whole current of my dom and of goodness, which is scattered restless and ever changing history. When every where around us, that the thoughts I walk by the way side, he is along with of this unsearchable Being are not as our me. When I enter into company, amid all thoughts, nor his ways as our ways? my forgetfulness of him, he never forgets My time does not suffer me to dwell on me. In the silent watches of the night, when this topic, because, before I conclude, I my eyelids have closed, and my spirit has must hasten to another illustration. But sunk into unconsciousness, the observant when I look abroad on the wondrous scene eye of him who never slumbers, is upon that is immediately before me-and see, me. I cannot fly from his presence. Go that in every direction it is a scene of the where I will, he tends me, and watches me, most various and unwearied activity—and and cares for me; and the same being who expatiate on all the beauties of that garniis now at work in the remotest domains of ture by which it is adorned, and on all the Nature and of Providence, is also at my prints of design and of benevolence which right hand to eke out to me every moment abound in it-and think, that the same God, of my being, and to uphold me in the exer- who holds the universe, with its every syscise of all my feelings, and of all my faculties. tem, in the hollow of his hand, pencils Now, what God is doing with me, he is every flower, and gives nourishment to doing with every distinct individual of this every blade of grass-and actuates the world's population. The intimacy of his movements of every living thing—and is presence, and attention, and care, reaches not disabled, by the weight of his other to one and to all of them. With a mind un- cares, from enriching the humble departburdened by the vastness of all its other ment of nature I occupy, with charms and concerns, he can prosecute, without distrac-accommodations, of the most unbounded tion, the government and guardianship of variety-then, surely, if a message, bearevery one son and daughter of the species.-ing every mark of authenticity, should proAnd is it for us, in the face of all this expe- fess to come to me from God, and inform rience, ungratefully to draw a limit around me of his mighty doings for the happiness the perfections of God?-to aver, that the of our species, it is not for me, in the face multitude of other worlds has withdrawn of all this evidence, to reject it as a tale of any portion of his benevolence from the one imposture, because astronomers have told we occupy?-or that he, whose eye is upon me that he has so many other worlds and every separate family of the earth, would other orders of beings to attend to-and, not lavish all the riches of his unsearchable when I think that it were a deposition of attributes on some high plan of pardon and him from his supremacy over the creatures immortality, in behalf of its countless gene- he has formed, should a single sparrow rations? fall to the ground without his appointment, then let science and sophistry try to cheat me of my comfort as they may-I will not let go the anchor of my confidence in God

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But, secondly, were the mind of God so fatigued, and so occupied with the care of other worlds, as the objection presumes him to be, should we not see some traces of ne--I will not be afraid, for I am of mor glect, or of carelessness, in his management value than many sparrows.

of ours? Should we not behold, in many a But thirdly, it was the telescope, that by field of observation, the evidence of its mas-piercing the obscurity which lies between ter being overcrowded with the variety of us and distant worlds, put infidelity in poshis other engagements? A man oppressed session of the argument, against which we by a multitude of business, would simplify are now contending. But, about the time and reduce the work of any new concern of its invention, another instrument was that was devolved upon him. Now, point formed, which laid open a scene no less out a single mark of God being thus op- wonderful, and rewarded the inquisitive pressed. Astronomy has laid open to us so spirit of man with a discovery, which serves many realms of creation, which were before to neutralize the whole of this argument. unheard of, that the world we inhabit shrinks This was the microscope. The one led me into one remote and solitary province of his to see a system in every star. The other

leads me to see a world in every atom. | forth an upholding influence among the The one taught me, that this mighty globe, orbs and the movements of astronomy, ean with the whole burden of its people, and of fill the recesses of every single atom with its countries, is but a grain of sand on the the intimacy of his presence, and travel, in high field of immensity. The other teaches all the greatness of his unimpaired attrime, that every grain of sand may harbour butes, upon every one spot and corner of within it the tribes and the families of a the universe he has formed. busy population. The one told me of the insignificance of the world I tread upon. The other redeems it from all its insignificance; for it tells me that in the leaves of every forest, and in the flowers of every garden, and in the waters of every rivulet, there are worlds teeming with life, and numberless as are the glories of the firmament. The one has suggested to me, that beyond and above all that is visible to man, there may lie fields of creation which sweep immeasurably along, and carry the impress of the Almighty's hand to the remotest scenes of the universe. The other suggests to me, that within and beneath all that minuteness which the aided eye of man has been able to explore, there may be a region of invisibles; and that could we draw aside the mysterious curtain which shrouds it from our senses, we might there see a theatre of as many wonders as astronomy has unfolded, a universe within the compass of a point so small, as to elude all the powers of the microscope, but where the wonder working God finds room for the exercise of all his attributes, where he can raise another mechanism of worlds, and fill and animate them all with the evidences of his glory.

They, therefore, who think that God will not put forth such a power, and such a goodness, and such a condescension, in behalf of this world, as are ascribed to him in the New Testament, because he has so many other worlds to attend to, think of him as a man. They confine their view to the informations of the telescope, and forget altogether the informations of the other instrument. They only find room in their minds for his one attribute of a large and general superintendance, and keep out of their remembrance, the equally impressive proofs we have for his other attribute of a minute and multiplied attention to all that diversity of operations, where it is he that worketh all in all. And then I think, that as one of the instruments of philosophy has heightened our every impression of the first of these attributes, so another instrument has no less heightened our impression of the second of them-then I can no longer resist the conclusion, that it would be a transgression of sound argument, as well as a daring of impiety, to draw a limit around the doings this unsearchable God—and, should a professed revelation from heaven, tell me of an act of condescension, in behalf of some separate world, so wonderful that angels desired to look into it, and the Eternal Son had to move from his seat of glory to carry it into accomplishment, all I ask is the evidence of such a revelation; for, let it tell me as much as it may of God letting himself down for the benefit of one single province of his dominions, this is no more than what I see lying scattered, in numberless examples, before me; and running through the whole line of my recollections; and meeting me in every walk of observation to which I can betake myself; and, now that the microscope has unveiled the wonders of another region, I see strewed around me, with a profusion which baffles my every attempt to comprehend it, the evidence that there is no one portion of the universe of God too minute for his notice, nor too humble for the visitations of his care.

Now, mark how all this may be made to meet the argument of our infidel astronomers. By the telescope they have discovered, that no magnitude, however vast, is beyond the grasp of the Divinity. But by the microscope we have also discovered, that no minuteness, however shrunk from the notice of the human eye, is beneath the condescension of his regard. Every addition to the powers of the one instrument, extends the limit of his visible dominions. But, by every addition to the powers of the other instrument, we see each part of them more crowded than before, with the wonders of his unwearying hand. The one is constantly widening the circle of his territory. The other is as constantly filling up its separate portions, with all that is rich, and various, and exquisite. In a word, by the one I am told that the Almighty is now at work in regions more distant than geometry has ever measured, and among worlds more manifold than numbers have ever reached. But, by the other, I am also told, that, with a mind to It is a wonderful thing that God should comprehend the whole, in the vast com- be so unincumbered by the concerns of a pass of its generality, he has also a mind whole universe, that he can give a constant to concentrate a close and a separate at-attention to every moment of every inditention on each and on all of its particu-vidual this world's population. But, lars; and that the same God, who sends wonderful as it is, you do not hesitate to

As the end of all these illustrations, let me bestow a single paragraph on what I conceive to be the precise state of this argument.

admit it as true, on the evidence of your I do not enter at all into the positive evidence for the truth of the Christian Revelation, my single aim at present being to dispose of one of the objections which is conceived to stand in the way of it. Let me suppose then that this is done to the satisfaction of a philosophical inquirer, and that the evidence is sustained, and that the same mind that is familiarised to all the sublimities of natural science, and has been in the habit of contemplating God in association with all the magnificence which is around him, shall be brought to submit its thoughts to the captivity of the doctrine of

own recollections. It is a wonderful thing that he whose eye is at every instant on so many worlds, should have peopled the world we inhabit with all the traces of the varied design and benevolence which abound in it. But, great as the wonder is, you do not allow so much as the shadow of improbability to darken it, for its reality is what you actually witness, and you never think of questioning the evidence of observation. It is wonderful, it is passing wonderful, that the same God, whose presence is diffused through immensity, and who spreads the ample canopy of his adminis-Christ. Oh! with what veneration, and tration over all its dwelling-places, should, gratitude, and wonder, should he look on with an energy as fresh and as unexpen- the descent of him into this lower world, who ded as if he had only begun the work of made all these things, and without whom creation, turn him to the neighbourhood was not any thing made that was made. around us, and lavish on its every hand- What a grandeur does it throw over every breadth, all the exuberance of his goodness, step in the redemption of a fallen world, and crowd it with the many thousand va- to think of its being done by him who unrieties of conscious existence. But, be the robed him of the glories of so wide a mowonder incomprehensible as it may, you narchy, and came to this humblest of its do not suffer in your mind the burden of a provinces, in the disguise of a servant, and single doubt to lie upon it because you do took upon him the form of our degraded not question the report of the miscroscope. species, and let himself down to sorrows You do not refuse its information, nor turn and to sufferings, and to death, for us. In away from it as an incompetent channel this love of an expiring Saviour to those of evidence. But to bring it still nearer to for whom in agony he poured out his soul, the point at issue, there are many who there is a height, and a depth, and a length, never looked through a microscope; but and a breadth, more than I can comprewho rest an implicit faith in all its revela- hend; and let me never, never from this tions; and upon what evidence, I would moment neglect so great a salvation, or lose ask? Upon the evidence of testimony-my hold of an atonement, made sure by upon the credit they give to the authors of him who cried, that it was finished, and the books they have read, and the belief brought in an everlasting righteousness. It they put in the record of their observations. was not the visit of an empty parade that Now, at this point I make my stand. It is he made to us. It was for the accomplishwonderful that God should be so interested ment of some substantial purpose; and, if in the redemption of a single world, as to that purpose is announced, and stated to send forth his well-beloved Son upon the consist in his dying the just for the unjust, errand, and he, to accomplish it, should, that he might bring us unto God, let us never mighty to save, put forth all his strength, doubt of our acceptance in that way of and travail in the greatness of it. But such communication with our Father in heaven, wonders as these have already multiplied which he hath opened and made known upon you; and when evidence is given of to us. In taking to that way, let us follow their truth, you have resigned your every his every direction with that humility which judgment of the unsearchable God, and a sense of all this wonderful condescension rested in the faith of them. I demand, in is fitted to inspire. Let us forsake all that the name of sound and consistent philoso-he bids us forsake. Let us do all that he phy, that you do the same in the matter bids us do. Let us give ourselves up to his before us-and take it up as a question of guidance with the docility of children, evidence and examine that medium of overpowered by a kindness that we never testimony through which the miracles and merited, and a love that is unequalled by informations of the Gospel have come to all the perverseness and all the ingratiyour door-and go not to admit as argu- tude of our stubborn nature-for what ment here, what would not be admitted as shall we render unto him for such mysteargument in any of the analogies of nature rious benefits-to him who has thus been and observation--and take along with you mindful of us-to him who thus has deigned in this field of inquiry, a lesson which you to visit us? should have learned upon other fieldseven the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God, that his judgments are unsearchable, and his ways are past finding out.

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But the whole of this argument is not yet exhausted. We have scarcely entered on the defence that is commonly made against the plea which infidelity rests on the wonderful extent of the universe of

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