Imatges de pÓgina

Now mark the use to which all this has been turned by the genius of infidelity. Such a humble portion of the universe as ours, could never have been the object of such high and distinguishing attentions as Christianity has assigned to it. God would not have manifested himself in the flesh for the salvation of so paltry a world. The monarch of a whole continent, would never move from his capital, and lay aside the splendour of royalty, and subject himself for months, or for years, to perils, and poverty, and persecution; and take up his abode in some small islet of his dominions, which, though swallowed by an earthquake, could not be missed amid the glories of so wide an empire; and all this to regain the lost affections of a few families upon its surface. And neither would the eternal Son of God-he who is revealed to us as having made all worlds, and as holding an empire, amid the splendours of which the globe that we inherit, is shaded insignificance; neither would he strip himself of the glory he had with the Father before the world was, and light on this lower scene, for the purpose imputed to him in the New Testament. Impossible, that the concerns of this puny ball, which floats its little round among an infinity of larger worlds, should be of such mighty account in the plans of the Eternal, or should have given birth in heaven to so wonderful a movement, as the Son of God putting on the form of our degraded species, and sojourning among us, and sharing in all our infirmities, and crowning the whole scene of humiliation by the disgrace and the agonies of a cruel martyr-vidual in every corner of his dominions, dom.

be the right answer to this objection, let us previously observe, that it goes to strip the Deity of an attribute which forms a wonderful addition to the glories of his incomprehensible character. It is indeed a mighty evidence of the strength of his arm, that so many millions of worlds are suspended on it; but it would surely make the high attribute of his power more illustrious, if while it expatiated at large among the suns and the systems of astronomy, it could, at the very same instant, be impressing a movement and a direction on all the minuter wheels of that machinery, which is working incessantly around us. It forms a noble demonstration of his wisdom, that he gives unremitting operation to those laws which uphold the stability of this great universe; but it would go to heighten that wisdom inconceivably, if while equal to the magnificent task of maintaining the order and harmony of the spheres, it was lavishing its inexhaustible resources on the beauties, and varieties, and arrangements, of every one scene, however humble, of every one field, however narrow, of the creation he had formed. It is a cheering evidence of the delight he takes in communicating happiness, that the whole of immensity should be so strewed with the habitations of life and of intelligence; but it would surely bring home the evidence, with a nearer and more affecting impression, to every bosom, did we know, that at the very time his be nignant regard took in the mighty circle of created beings, there was not a single family overlooked by him, and that every indi

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 And, lastly, to apply this train of sentiof contemplation, found a fit exercise for his ment to the matter before us; let us suppowers in the interpretation of the Bible, pose that one among the countless myriads there are thousands and tens of thousands, of worlds, should be visited by a moral who, though walking in the light which he pestilence, which spread through all its peoholds out to them, are seduced by a com-ple, and brought them under the doom of a placency 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

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

other worlds from which the ear of the Al-discovery, which should hasten our every mighty was regaled with the songs of conception of God, and humble us into the praise, and the incense of a pure adoration sentiment, that a Being of such mysterious ascended to his throne, he should leave the elevation is to us unfathomable, is to sit in strayed and solitary world to perish in the judgment over him, aye, and to pronounce guilt of its rebellion. But, tell me, oh! tell such a judgment as degrades him, and keeps me, would it not throw the softening of a him down to the standard of our own paltry most exquisite tenderness over the charac-imagination! We are introduced by modern 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.

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 by astronomy, that he has millions of worlds to look after, and thus add in one direction to the glories of his character; we take away from them in another, by saying, that cach of these worlds must be looked after imperfectly. The use that we make of a

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 addition 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, even upon the face of this world, humble as it is on the great scale of astronomy, how widely diversified and how multiplied into many thousand distinct exercises, is the attention of God! His eye is upon every hour of my existence. His spirit is intimately present with every thought of my


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 me. In the silent watches of the night, when my eyelids have closed, and my spirit has sunk into unconsciousness, the observant eye of him who never slumbers, is upon me. I cannot fly from his presence. Go where I will, he tends me, and watches me, and cares for me; and the same being who is now at work in the remotest domains of Nature and of Providence, is also at my right hand to eke out to me every moment of my being, and to uphold me in the exercise of all my feelings, and of all my faculties. Now, what God is doing with me, he is doing with every distinct individual of this world's population. The intimacy of his presence, and attention, and care, reaches to one and to all of them. With a mind unburdened by the vastness of all its other concerns, he can prosecute, without distraction, the government and guardianship of every one son and daughter of the species.And is it for us, in the face of all this experience, ungratefully to draw a limit around the perfections of God?-to aver, that the multitude of other worlds has withdrawn any portion of his benevolence from the one we occupy?-or that he, whose eye is upon every separate family of the earth, would not lavish all the riches of his unsearchable attributes on some high plan of pardon and immortality, in behalf of its countless gene

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My time does not suffer me to dwell on this topic, because, before I conclude, I must hasten to another illustration. when I look abroad on the wondrous scene that is immediately before me-and see, that in every direction it is a scene of the most various and unwearied activity-and expatiate on all the beauties of that garniture by which it is adorned, and on all the prints of design and of benevolence which abound in it-and think, that the same God, who holds the universe, with its every system, in the hollow of his hand, pencils every flower, and gives nourishment to every blade of grass-and actuates the movements of every living thing-and is not disabled, by the weight of his other cares, from enriching the humble department of nature I occupy, with charms and accommodations, of the most unbounded variety-then, surely, if a message, bearing every mark of authenticity, should profess to come to me from God, and inform me of his mighty doings for the happiness of our species, it is not for me, in the face of all this evidence, to reject it as a tale of imposture, because astronomers have told me that he has so many other worlds and other orders of beings to attend to—and, when I think that it were a deposition of him from his supremacy over the creatures he has formed, should a single sparrow fall to the ground without his appointment, But, secondly, were the mind of God so then let science and sophistry try to cheat fatigued, and so occupied with the care of me of my comfort as they may-I will not other worlds, as the objection presumes him let go the anchor of my confidence in God 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 field of observation, the evidence of its master being overcrowded with the variety of his other engagements? A man oppressed by a multitude of business, would simplify and reduce the work of any new concern that was devolved upon him. Now, point out a single mark of God being thus oppressed. Astronomy has laid open to us so many realms of creation, which were before unheard of, that the world we inhabit shrinks into one remote and solitary province of his


But thirdly, it was the telescope, that by piercing the obscurity which lies between us and distant worlds, put infidelity in possession of the argument, against which we are now contending. But, about the time of its invention, another instrument was formed, which laid open a scene no less wonderful, and rewarded the inquisitive spirit of man with a discovery, which serves to neutralize the whole of this argument. This was the microscope. The one led me to see a system in every star. The other

leads me to see a world in every atom. The one taught me, that this mighty globe, with the whole burden of its people, and of its countries, is but a grain of sand on the high field of immensity. The other teaches me, that every grain of sand may harbour within it the tribes and the families of a 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.

forth an upholding influence among the orbs and the movements of astronomy, can fill the recesses of every single atom with the intimacy of his presence, and travel, in all the greatness of his unimpaired attributes, upon every one spot and corner of the universe he has formed.

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 of 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 in 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 eviown recollections. It is a wonderful thing dence for the truth of the Christian Revethat he whose eye is at every instant on so lation, my single aim at present being to many worlds, should have peopled the dispose of one of the objections which is world we inhabit with all the traces of the conceived to stand in the way of it. Let varied design and benevolence which abound me suppose then that this is done to the in it. But, great as the wonder is, you do satisfaction of a philosophical inquirer, and not allow so much as the shadow of im- that the evidence is sustained, and that the probability to darken it, for its reality is same mind that is familiarised to all the what you actually witness, and you never sublimities of natural science, and has been think of questioning the evidence of obser- in the habit of contemplating God in assovation. It is wonderful, it is passing won- ciation with all the magnificence which is derful, that the same God, whose presence around him, shall be brought to submit its is diffused through immensity, and who thoughts to the captivity of the doctrine of 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 informations of the Gospel have come to your door-and go not to admit as argument here, what would not be admitted as argument in any of the analogies of nature and observation-and take along with you in this field of inquiry, a lesson which you 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.

merited, and a love that is unequalled by all the perverseness and all the ingratitude of our stubborn nature-for what shall we render unto him for such mysterious benefits-to him who has thus been mindful of us--to him who thus has deigned to visit us?

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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