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The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handy work. The earth also is full of his riches. His power and goodness every where appear. Manifold are his works; in wisdom he has made them all.
As the works which we behold, display his perfections, and manifest, in a particular manner, his wisdom, power and benevolence; so it is certainly his will, that intelligent creatures should attend to the displays and manifestations which he has made of himself, and exercise toward him correspondent affections and regards. Though we cannot affirm, that this, that, or the other, was the only or ultimate end of all creation, yet we know that God made rational creatures to serve him; discovers to them his character, that they may love him; bestows on them his goodness, that they may trust him; and calls them to himself, that they may enjoy him. The language of angels, is the voice of reason. Thou art worthy to receive glory, and honour, and power; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
This brings us to our last observation,
III. That all intelligent beings are bound to glo. rify God for his works of creation and providence.
1. These works should lead us to the knowledge and contemplation of their great and glorious Author.
sought out by them While the philosoenlargement of his
God's works are wonderful, who have pleasure in them. pher explores them for the mind, the amusement of his fancy, and the investigation of their uses in common life, the good Christian will regard them in a higher view. He will look into them, that he may gain a juster knowledge, and raise a nobler conception of the Creator. He will behold God in them, and contemplate the wisdom, goodness, and power which
they display. When he sees the works, he will see God working. He will consider himself as surrounded by the Deity; animated by his breath ; inspired with reason by his spirit; sustained by his hand; supplied by his goodness; guided by his counsel; and protected by his
Of the wicked it is said, God is not in all their thoughts. What stupidity is this! Is God always with them, and working before them? Does he manifest himself in the heavens, in the earth, in rain and sunshine, in winds and storms, in succeeding their labours, and blessing the works of their hands? And, Can they banish him from their thoughts? If we live without God in a world, which is every where so full of him, What are we better than the heathen? We know God, but we glorify him not as God, neither are thankful. Better than the heathen? Nay, we are inferiour to the mere animal. "The ox knows his owner, and the
ass his master's crib."
2. We should glorify God in his works, by improving them to awaken in our souls pious affections to him.
The Being who made and upholds so vast a system; who supplies such innumerable multitudes; who has given understanding to many; who has provided for their subsistence in this state, and their happiness through eternity, must be great, and wise, and good. To him then are due our highest regards. We should tremble at his presence, reverence his majesty, submit to his pleasure, trust his care, admire his character, thank him for his benefits, and acknowledge him in all our ways.
In tracing the connexions, and investigating the causes of things, the philosopher is led up to the Deity as the grand first cause of all. But if he introduces into his scheme the agency of a God, only as he admits the power of attraction, magnetism
and electricity, to solve the phenomena of nature, he stops far short of the proper end of his researches. The Christian will contemplate the Deity, not merely as a power producing great effects; but as a Being, whose power is guided by wisdom, justice and benevolence. While he admires the works, he will love and fear, trust and adore the God who made them.
3. The works of God should invite us to him in the humble exercises of devotion. He who offers praise, glorifies God. The Being who made all things, must himself be independent. The things which are made must be dependent on him. When we look up to this glorious Being, we should sink down into the most humble thoughts of ourselves. What are we amidst this vast creation! How wonderful is his condescension, that he attends to our wants, and visits us every moment! When we consider the heavens, the work of his fingers, the moon and stars, which he has ordained, How just is the reflection, What is man that he should be mindful of him?-Does it not become such dependent and indebted creatures daily to call on God for what they want, and daily to thank him for what they receive? He is not indifferent to us: Shall we be indifferent to him? We daily stand in his presence, and receive bounties from his hand: Shall we pay no reverence to his character, and make no returns for his beneficence? From just apprehensions of God, and of ourselves, a spirit of devotion must arise.
4. We are to glorify God for our own existence. If we are to praise him for creation in general, surely some gratitude is due for our distinguished rank in the creation. I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. How precious are thy thoughts to me! How great is the sum of them!
God has given us a rational existence; made known to us his will; taken us under his particular care; furnished us with the means of virtue in this state, and eternal happiness in the next; and, all along the passage through this to the future world, the blessings of his goodness attend us. Is not existence, under these circumstances, to be regarded as a privilege? If a happy existence is to be valued, an existence accompanied with present enjoyments, and with the means of obtaining higher enjoyments hereafter, is to be contemplated with gratitude and joy.
Perhaps in the gloom of a discontented mind, you complain of life as a burthen.
Impatience may undoubtedly draw up a long list of grievances. But from this list, let your sober reason make proper deductions.
In the first place, strike out your imaginary troubles-those which arise from pride, vanity, avarice, habit, irregular passion, and extravagant expectation. Strike out next the troubles which are merely negative, consisting only in the removal of blessings which you have enjoyed for a while, and which, if you had never enjoyed them, you never would have desired. Strike out also your comparative evils, which owe their existence to an apprehension, that your neighbours possess benefits denied to you-benefits, which you would not have thought of, if you had not seen them in possession of others. Make these deductions, and your list of grievances will be much reduced. Call gratitude to make the estimate, and your blessings will be found to exceed your troubles.
You have more days of health and comfort, than of sickness and pain. In a course of regular industry, you have more success than disappointment. In your connexions, you have many friends; few enemies-perhaps none. Remember also, that VOL. I. C
your real troubles, rightly regarded, are preparatives for a state of pure enjoyment; and that death, which of all things here you most dread, is your passage to that state. Consider these things, and then say, Our light afflictions, which are but for a moment, will work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
But still perhaps some will conclude, that their existence is to be regretted: "For revelation informs us, that a great part, yea much the greater part of the human race will be miserable forever. It is then, with respect to each one who comes on this stage, more probable that he will be miserable than happy. And if this is his state, What ground is there to be thankful for existence ?"
Now, without entering on the question, whether the proportion of the saved will be great or small, a question not subject to human calculation, we are to consider, whether we have the means and offers of happiness, and whether we have them from a Being who may be trusted. If we have, then there is cause of thankfulness for our existence; for we may be happy, if we will be wise. It is only the abuse of divine goodness, that makes us miserable. Happiness is proposed to our choice; and whether we accept or reject it, still God is good. Our folly alters not the nature of goodness, nor diminishes the obligation of gratitude.
You are not to consider the plan of the gospel, as the scheme of a lottery, in which each man's chance for success is according to the proportion of prizes to blanks; but as a moral and rational plan, in which each one's success will be determined by his own choice. Be the number of the saved ever so small, this diminishes not the probability in favour of those, who seek for glory by a patient continuance in well doing. Be it ever so great, this gives no additional hope to those who neglect their