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things which shall be produced, whether by SERM, necessary or free causes; it follows, that he X. can never possibly be mistaken in his measures, or come short of a right judgment upon the expediency of things, of the fitness of means for attaining the ends he proposes. Since his power is infinite and cannot be controul'd, nor his designs defeated by any opposition, and there is no imaginable cause which should induce him to alter his designs, but bis counsel ftandeth for ever, the thoughts of bis heart to all generations ; since it is so, nothing can be wanting to the highest perfection of wisdom ; no weakness, no error, no. irresolution or unsteddiness can ever be charg'd on any of his measures. Such is the rashness and folly of poor short fighted mortals, that they take upon them to cenfure the works of God as defective in wisdom, altho’ we have not only the same evidence of this which is common to other of his attributes, that is, we know it by its fruits and effects; but fupposing his other perfections to be provid, his knowledge, and his
and his omniprefence, we are satisfied before-hand by reasoning which is fully convincing, without confidering his works of creation and providence which abundantly display his wisdom; we
* Psal. xxxiii. 11.
SERM. are satisfied, I say, that he is, and neceffarily X. must be infinitely wise.
Another general argument to prove the wisdom of God, is taken from the faint and imperfect images of it which are in some of the creatures, and which must be deriv'd from the father of lights, himself therefore possess'd of that perfection in the highest degree. As intelligence in the effect is a clear evidence of it in the Author, tho' of a superior kind, (for it could not possibly proceed from an unintelligent Cause ;) so particularly, the highest improvement, and the best use of understanding can never exceed, nor indeed equal the original Fountain from which all knowledge flows; and therefore the wisdom of God is absolutely supreme. Since God only hath put wisdom into the inward parts, and given understanding to the beart, all the measures of wisdom which any created and finite beings can attain to, must needs be inferior to his. For, the effect can neither originally have, nor ever possibly arrive to the perfection of the voluntary complete cause. If it could, then of that equal, and therefore independent perfection, or degree of perfection, it would be a cause to itself, rather there would be no cause at all. Tho' 'tis true this is an improveable ability in imperfect minds, which grow in
wisdom by attention, industrious inquiry, and SERM, careful observation, yet never independently X. on God, nor can their acquirements rise to an equality with the Divine understanding. For the very capacity of improvement is derived from him, the means are under the direction of his providence, and the success depends on his good pleasure. And the increase, as it is limited in its degrees, by the will of him who hath determin’d the measures of perfection to which every one of his creatures shall, or can attain, so it implies an imperfection from which the first Cause is absolutely free, whose wisdom, as all the other excellencies of his nature, is uncapable of any addition or diminution.
But the most obvious proof of the wisdom of God, and to attentive minds it is fully convincing, is, by his works of creation and providence; his originally making aļl things in heaven and earth, and disposing them in the order in which they appear ; his preserving them all and governing them, in the way which is most suitable to their several natures, and so as they may best answer the ends of their being. They are made so as to have a visible mutual relation to each other, with the most exquisite skill and contrivance, and plainly to discover that the
SERM. whole is under the direction of one ruling X. Counsel. Inanimate things are upheld by
the power of God, and directed in their motions, constantly and uniformly, to serve particular purposes. Sensitive beings have a suitable provision made for the support of their lives, and are govern'd by instincts which determine them to pursue the proper ends of their nature. And rational agents have laws given them for regulating their conduct, and they are furnished with proper motives of action, by the influence of which they are directed, freely, and with understanding to pursue the proper ends of their being. Upon a general survey of these works of God, there appears an obvious congruity in the whole, and a designed subserviency of some to others. It is evident, that the inotions of the heavenly bodies, and the constant uniform influence of them in the various productions upon
our globe, are under such a direction as to answer the end of sustaining a multitude of living things in their regular successions ; animals are under an apparent economy, whereby they are render'd useful to one another, and all of them subordinated to man. Now, I say, even upon such a slight and general view, we have a clear discovery of infinite Divine wisdom. The greater variety there is in any
system, which must all be within the com-Serm.
Especially the variety of kinds, yet more than the multitude of individuals, properly disposed, demonstrates the wisdom of the Creator and supreme Governor of the world. There is no diversity at all in the productions of necessary unintelligent causes; and, in proportion to their measure of understanding, the operations of free agents are confin'd to a few fimilar effects, or extend to a greater variety. It is thus that we estimate a human genius; VOL. I.