Imatges de pÓgina
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ledge?" "Who is this?" We have but to call to mind what we are, and we shall see at once the foolishness of murmuring against God. "Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me." Whatever pains we take to prepare, we shall find it hopeless for man to answer God." Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding." How are we here at once convinced of ignorance! How are we made to feel that we are but of yesterday, when further inquired of by the Lord, "Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" How are we here compelled to own, Lord, we know no more of this, than Thou hast been pleased to tell us! Lord, we of ourselves know nothing; oh make us in every thing content to learn, as Thou dost think fit to teach us! "Or," again, "who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth as if it had issued out of the womb ?" Who, Lord, save Thou! In thy almighty hands the whole expanse of ocean was but as a new born babe, for which Thou madest the cloud to be a garment," and thick darkness a swaddling band for it." Thou gavest it its law, and didst set it its limit, and didst lay on it, as on an infant, its command, "Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further and here shall thy proud waves be stayed." Oh stay in us the swelling waves of pride! Subdue the storms of passion! And make us as little children submissive to thy will; O Thou who art our Maker, our Father, and our God!

It was when "darkness was upon the face of the deep," that "God said, Let there be light: and there was light." Gen. 1. 2, 3. Man was not yet created, when the dayspring learnt its place; when it was sent round and round the world, and was prepared beforehand for the exposure of the wicked, to bring to light their deeds of darkness, to stamp them with their true character, and to withhold from them the darkness which they prefer to light. Man was not yet made when all this was provided. Man can neither do these things, nor say how they were done by God. Neither can man fathom the depths of ocean, nor know all the circumference of the earth, nor tell what is beyond "the gates of death," "the doors of the shadow of death." Go then, proud man, and if there be nothing else that thou canst know, know at least thine own ignorance. Know that thou knowest none of all these things, which God both knows, and brings to pass. Know that it is past thy power to discover what some of these things mean. And whatsoever thou meetest with beyond thy comprehension, either in God's works, or in his word, know that for all this it may help to make thee wise, if it help to make thee humble.

Jehovah convinceth Job of ignorance and weakness.

19 Where is the way where light dwelleth? and as for darkness, where is the place thereof,

20 That thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof, and that thou shouldest know the paths to the house thereof?

21 Knowest thou it, because thou wast then born? or because the number of thy days is great? 22 Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail,

23 Which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war?

24 By what way is the light parted, which scattereth the east wind upon the earth?

25 Who hath divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters, or a way for the lightning of thunder;

26 To cause it to rain on the earth, where no man is; on the wilderness, wherein there is no

man;

27 To satisfy the desolate and waste ground, and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth?

28 Hath the rain a father? or who hath begotten the drops of dew?

29 Out of whose womb came the ice? and the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it?

30 The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen.

31 Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?

32 Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?

33 Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth? 34 Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, that abundance of waters may cover thee?

35 Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go, and say unto thee, Here we are?

36 Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understanding to the heart?

37 Who can number the clouds in wisdom? or who can stay the bottles of heaven,

38 When the dust groweth into hardness, and the clods cleave fast together?

39 Wilt thou hunt the prey for the lion? or fill the appetite of the young lions,

40 When they couch in their dens, and abide in the covert to lie in wait?

41 Who provideth for the raven his food? when his young ones cry unto God, they wander for lack of meat.

LECTURE 822.

We may know God sufficiently to believe in Him, and love Him.

If it be true that knowledge is power, it is no less true that ignorance is weakness. And when Jehovah out of the whirlwind demands of Job, whether he knows the secret of his mighty works, it is in order to remind him, that he, as a mere man, is not able to perform any one of all these marvels. Hast thou known?

is equivalent to Canst thou do? Hast thou known how to do these things, how to divide light from darkness, and to assign to each its place? Hast thou known how to treasure up the snow, and to reserve the stores of hail, how to find a passage for the flood, and a path for the lightning, how to supply abundance of rain, not only for the use of man, but also for the nourishment of each herb and shrub, that blossoms unregarded in the wilderness? Hast thou known the parentage of rain, dew, ice, or of the hoary frost, or canst thou bring them into being? Canst thou change the seasons at thy pleasure, altering the order of the constellations in the firmament, making the rain fall at thy bidding, and constraining the lightnings to come," and say unto thee, Here we are?"

These things are evidently beyond man's power. God, and God alone, can do them. He who made our understanding what it is, has not given us a capacity for dominion, that can in any wise be compared with his own. To Himself He has reserved the government of the universe, the work of supplying all things living with plenteousness. To Himself He has reserved the secret of his power. And well may He challenge us to say, which one of all his works we can thoroughly understand, much less effectually do. We search blindly. God knows clearly. We grope as in the dark. He dwells in perfect light. We toil in weakness, and do little. He speaks the word only, and does every thing. We attempt not to extend our care and labour beyond the wants of ourselves, or of our race. He has all creation to provide for, and provides abundantly for all. And such is the profusion of his power, that He decks with plenty the desolate and waste ground, where no human being is, and supplies with food whole tribes of living creatures, to be the never failing food of other tribes. Know Him then we cannot, nor know his ways, in such sort as to do what He does, or to be fit to pass judgment on his doings. But know Him we may, in such sort as to fear Him, and to believe in Him, to love Him, and to obey Him. For behold, with all the might of our Creator He combines all the affection of a Father. And He has told us enough, both by his works and by his word, to give us the most full conviction, that alike in what He has revealed, and in what He has withheld, He does that which is most for our good.

O great Creator of the universe, we desire in all humility to magnify thy most holy name. Marvellous are thy works, far above out of our reach; and great would be our presumption to think that we can thoroughly comprehend even the least of all thy doings. How much less dare we so much as think of doing any one of them! No, rather with them we join to glorify Thee the Maker of all things, the Father, the Saviour, the Sanctifier of man!

The instincts of several animals set forth.

1 Knowest thou the time when the wild goats of the rock bring forth? or canst thou mark when the hinds do calve?

2 Canst thou number the months that they fulfil? or knowest thou the time when they bring forth? 3 They bow themselves, they bring forth their young ones, they cast out their sorrows. 4 Their young ones are in good liking, they grow up with corn; they go forth, and return not unto them.

5 Who hath sent out the wild ass free? or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass?

6 Whose house I have made the wilderness, and the barren land his dwellings.

7 He scorneth the multitude of the city, neither regardeth he the crying of the driver.

8 The range of the mountains is his pasture, and he searcheth after every green thing.

9 Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib? 10 Canst thou bind the uni

corn with his band in the furrow? or will he harrow the vallies after thee?

11 Wilt thou trust him, because his strength is great? or wilt thou leave thy labour to him?

12 Wilt thou believe him, that he will bring home thy seed, and gather it into thy barn?

13 Gavest thou the goodly wings unto the peacocks? or wings and feathers unto the ostrich?

14 Which leaveth her eggs in the earth, and warmeth them in dust.

15 And forgetteth that the foot may crush them, or that the wild beast may break them.

16 She is hardened against her young ones, as though they were not her's: her labour is in vain without fear;

17 Because God hath deprived her of wisdom, neither hath he imparted to her understanding. 18 What time she lifteth up herself on high, she scorneth the horse and his rider.

LECTURE 823.

The thought of God's power ought to humble us.

The habits of animals in general, and especially of those which are wild, foreign, rarely met with, and remarkable for strength or beauty, their manner of living and of continuing their kind upon the earth, are subjects so curious and interesting, that they have usually engaged the attention of many amongst the most able and learned of mankind. But after all our researches, it is surprizing how far we fall short of full and accurate knowledge in natural history. There are still many points of importance to be cleared up. And scarcely any two of those, who have treated on such subjects, are agreed as to the number of the kinds of animals, or as to the best way of distinguishing one from another, much less as to the peculiarities in the form, and faculties, dispositions, and pursuits, of each distinct species. And to how few amongst men in general is even this imperfect knowledge con

fined! How much the greater proportion even of those who inhabit a country so far advanced in intelligence as ours, know nothing of the structure and distinctive characters of any of God's creatures, except those immediately around them, if indeed they know any thing of these! And yet, which of the most ignorant amongst us all, will refrain, or at least will be checked by consciousness of ignorance, from discussing the most deep things of God, from questioning the wisdom of his dealings, and the justice of his dispensations?

It was to reprove in Job, and to reprove in us, this disposition to pass judgment on the wisdom of our Maker, that the Lord here sets forth the marvels of his workmanship, in some few among the many thousand kinds of living beings, to every one of which He has given its distinctive character, and preserved the same unaltered from the creation to the times of Job, and from the times of Job to ours, filling with living creatures the land, the waters, and the air; and contriving that whilst they increase and multiply, whilst they die and are succeeded by their offspring, and whilst there are perhaps no two creatures of any species exactly in all points alike, still each kind remains distinct from every other, and distinguishable by the very same characters and instincts which He impressed on each at the beginning. Well may we here say, in the language of the Psalmist," Lord, how manifold are thy works: in wisdom hast thou made them all; the earth is full of thy riches!" Ps. 104. 24. Well may we learn, from God's power and wisdom in his works, to receive with meekness and humility the marvels of his word. Not to dwell on the multitude of his creatures, there is enough shewn in the creation of any one that is here mentioned, to confound the high thoughts, and to put to silence the foolish words, of the most presumptuous of mankind. And when we consider how little we now know of these few amongst the multitude of animals, and how infinitely the knowing every thing about all of them would fall short of creating a single one, instead of ever presuming to murmur against God, either in word or thought, we shall resolve as the Psalmist did, upon a review of the wonders of creation, "I will sing unto the Lord, as long as I live: I will praise my God, while I have my being." Ps. 104. 33.

Praise the Lord then, all ye his creatures. Praise the Lord, all ye works of his. Praise the Lord, for He created you. Praise the Lord, for He preserves your being. Praise Him, all ye living creatures. Praise Him, all ye children of men. Praise the Lord God almighty; through Jesus Christ his Son, the Redeemer of all mankind.

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