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their great Creator, for the wonderful provision he has made for the welfare of all his creatures, and especially for the happiness of man both in this life and in the next.
Our duty, therefore, being to glorify God for his works of wonder and mercy; what I now intend is, to shew you the many occasions you will have of putting this duty in practice; and especially in the many instances given us in this song of praise, which is, in effect, the same with the 148th Psalm, but here more particularly set forth.
Now, this hymn begins with the most noble part of the creation; Ō ye angels of the Lord, bless ye the Lord, &c. which every time we repeat, we should give God thanks for, that he gives these his angels charge concerning us poor mortals, as his holy Spirit assures us he does.
Let us also remember what the same Spirit tells us, that thousands of thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand of these glorious beings wait upon God continually, to minister unto him, and to receive his commands. With what thoughts of reverence and fear of his glorious Majesty will this thought affect the mind of every serious Christian! And with what comfort will it fill our souls, when we consider, that we shall, one day, be as happy as these very angels, if in this state of trial we behave ourselves as God has commanded us!
And let us not forget that these angels are in scripture called the eyes of God; and that they are in every place beholding the evil and the good; and especially in the religious assem
blies of Christians, as St. Paul intimates. indeed, and as sure as I now speak to you, they are here now present with us in this place; and hear the charge I give you, and are witnesses of your behaviour, and of the attention you give to the service, and to the word of God read and preached unto you.
In the next place, we are led to bless God for the heavens he has made; whether they are those where his Majesty, in an especial manner, together with his glorious angels, resides; or those heavenly bodies which we see with our eyes, and by which all nations are led to acknowledge the God that made them; and are without excuse if they do not adore and magnify their great Creator.
Moses, in his account of the creation, mentions the waters that are above the firmament:* and the Psalmist does the same. What these are, or their uses, we know not perfectly; and so it is with all God's works. But this we may be assured of, that God made them for his glory, and our benefit; and we ought to praise him for them, as we do for the rest of the creation.
In the next place, we are called upon to bless and praise God for those wonderful powers by which all nature is governed, and by which all his works are preserved, and do answer the end of their creation. Let us also magnify God for those spiritual powers and agents, by which he orders the affairs of this lower world, protecting and rewarding the good, and bringing the wickedness of the wicked upon their own heads; whether they be particular persons, or
⚫ Gen. i. 7.
↑ Psalm cxlviii.
whole nations. This is called the providence. of God, which we have every day occasion and reason to adore, to fear, and magnify: and let us not forget to do it.
In the next place, how can any man, who has his eyes open, forbear to bless and honour God for those two great lights, the sun and the moon, which he has created? Do but consider the multitude of blessings and comforts which we receive from their light and heat; without which this whole earth, and all the creatures in it, would soon perish.
Can any man see, and consider, these glorious bodies, without saying in his heart, How much more glorious must the Maker of them be! How infinitely good and kind must he be, who for us poor creatures has made such wonderful, such astonishing works! And how insensible, how ungrateful, shall we all be, if we do not bless and magnify our God for these his works!
Let any man look upon the heavens in a clear night, and see the innumerable multitude of bright stars which adorn the sky, and give us an occasion of glorifying the Maker of such vast bodies of light, which, though by reason of their distance they appear small to us, yet are many times larger than this earth we tread on.
Let us come to things nearer us. Showers, and dews, are blessings which both man and beast feel the effects and the comfort of, when God, in whose hands are all these blessings, refresheth the earth with the former and the latter rain in their season: and when he denieth us these blessings, it is to punish us for our unthankfulness,
and to make us more sensible that all the blessings which we hope for, or enjoy, are to be asked of him, and that he is to be praised for them.
Little do men consider the uses and blessings of those winds, which clear the air we breathe in, and keep it free from infection. For whenever God thinks fit to punish a sinful people, he needs but command the winds to cease; and sickness, plagues, pestilence, and death, will follow of course.
This, experience has taught the world; insomuch as, during the last great plague in England, the wind never stirred; and when God gave the word, and the wind arose, the sickness ceased. What reason therefore have men not to consider this, and to magnify the wonderful goodness of God for this part of his works, so beneficial to us, and to the rest of the creation.
What a comfortless world should we live in, (if we could live at all) if our good God had not created fire and heat for our use, comfort, and necessity; and yet we enjoy them every day, without considering who it is that has provided for us so necessary, so useful a blessing; and who ought therefore to be praised for it.
The winter and summer return every year at their proper seasons: would to God our praise and thanksgiving for the same did also return with them! But the commoness of God's blessings and wonders makes us to forget the author of them, and to forget too to praise him for their several uses. We should not do so, if we did but consider what the sad effects of a constant summer must needs be; what a parching heat
and drought, or what a perpetual pinching cold, would certainly produce. But God has ordered these grateful changes for his glory, and for our benefit, and that we might have constant occasions of blessing and praising him for them.
The dews and frosts; that is, the hoar frost, or frozen vapours, the frost and cold, the ice and snow, are all necessary in their seasons, to cleanse the air, and to make the earth more fruitful, according to the old observation of the husbandman, that the snow manures every poor man's croft, and makes it more fruitful. So that both poor and rich ought to bless God for these instances of his love and care for his creatures.
Nights and days, light and darkness, observe and keep the rules and laws which God hath appointed them from the first creation. These glorify their great Creator, by observing the laws he has set them; while men, unthoughtful men, enjoy these blessings without adoring the bounteous goodness of God. They enjoy the rest and quiet of the night-too, too many, without giving God thanks for his mercies renewed unto them every morning. They take the advantage of the light, and of the day, to follow their labours; and too often neglect to bless God for the many days he affords them in which to provide necessaries for themselves and their families.
The darkness of the night should put us all in mind how uncomfortable our lives would be, if God did not afford us the blessing of the light; by which we can see, and admire, and enjoy the works of the creation.