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Addressed to the inhabitants of the parish of Paston,

in Northamptonshire.

SERMON XX.

The Use and Abuse of this World.

vii. 31.

And they that use this world as not abusing it. i Cor.

•431

Preached at St. Bene't, Gracechurch, in the city of

London, on Sunday, October 9, 1796.

-SERMON

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SERMON I.

AND THE EARTH' BROUGHT FORTH GRASS, AND

HERB YIELDING SEED AFTER HIS KIND, AND THE TREE YIELDING FRUIT, WHOSE SEED WAS IN ITSELF; AND GOD SAW THAT IT WAS GOOD.

GEN. I. XII.

IF
F an author, who should undertake to

explain the proportion of architecture, were to trouble us with a long preface, to prove that every house we see must have been the work of some man, because no house could possibly build itself, or rise into form by accident; I presume, we should all be of opinion, that he might have spared this part of his labour. It seems equally superfluous to insist, that the structure of nature could not raise itself; the cases being exactly parallel, and

both

VOL. VI.

B

both self-evident to common sense.

There is a sort of sense, which pretends to discover, not only that the argument is necessary, but that the proof is deficient. We trust, however, that such sense neither is, nor ever will be common. If there really be such a thing as speculative or philosophical atheism, that doctrine must be the individual point, in which the affectation of wisdom meets the extremity of folly; and it would be loss of time to reason with it. We therefore take it upon the authority of the text, that herbs, trees, fruits and seeds, are the work of God; and the present occasion requires us to consider how, and in what respects, this work is good, and displays the wisdom of the great Creator.

The goodness ascribed to this part of the creation is evidently not moral but natural : it means, that the several articles of the vegetable kingdom have that sort of goodness of which they are capable; that they are beautiful and perfect in their kinds; wonderful in their growth; sufficient in their powers and properties; and beneficial in their uses. In these capacities we are to consider them; and to observe how the wisdom of the Creator is manifested,

First,

First, in the form and structure of vegetables

Secondly, in the manner of their growth.

Thirdly, in their natural uses, for meat and medicine:

Fourthly, in their moral uses ; for the advancement of human prudence and religious faith.

Herbs and flowers may be regarded by some persons as objects of inferior consideration in philosophy; but every thing must be great which hath God for its author. To him all the parts of nature are equally related. The flowers of the earth can raise our thoughts up to the Creator of the world as effectually as the stars of heaven: and till we make this use of both, we cannot be said to think properly of either. The contemplation of nature should always be seasoned with a mixture of devotion ; the highest faculty of the human mind; hy which alone contemplation is improved, and dignified, and directed to its proper object. To join these together is the design of our present meeting; and when they are joined, may they never more be put asunder!

In the form and structure of plants, with the provision for their growth and increase, в о

there

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