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A PHILOSOPHICAL MEDITATION,
SUPREME BEING. *
O ETERNAL Source of Life, Light and Love; that permittest thy reasonable creatures to open their souls to Thy divine influence by Prayer! compose my thoughts, raise my affections, and grant that I may approach Thy awful Presence, with an humble sense of my own indigence, and with worthy
• This piece was one of the earliest of the author's compositions. It was written for the use of young Students in Philosophy, and published, in London, 1754, at the end of a book of Ethics, and on the plan of the same. The Ethics were written by the Rev. Dr. Samuel Johnson the Father, first President of the college of New-York.
Hence this Composition consists of the same parts with the treatise on Ethics itself, viz.
First, Speculative and Religious Truths relating to God, which make the Address and Acknowledgment of Him; and Truths relating to ourselves, which make the Confession.
Secondly, The Practical duties that result from these Truths, which are Moral, Divine and Social. Petitions for Grace to discharge these aright make the Petitory parts.
apprehensions of Thy all-sufficiency. As thou hast given me the means of knowing, in some degree, the relations which I sustain, and hast also given me reason to deduce from thence my various duties; permit me to fly to Thine Almighty Grace and Aid, to enable me to put these duties in practice: For, without this, I know how insufficient I am, by my own natural strength, to do any thing that is truly acceptable to. Thee...
THE SPECULATIVE PART OF CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY.
1. In the course of my researches, what first of all appears to me is—that Thou art from everlasting
1. Truths to everlasting, completely happy in Thywith respect
self, perfect in Goodness, Power and Wisdom.
Thy Goodness spoke creation into birth, with no other view but to communicate to finite naturęs, from that unbounded ocean that flows forever undimi. nished round Thy Throne, the greatest possible sum of happiness that such natures can possibly share! Thy power governs Thy universal Family, both in Heaven and Earth, as best suits the ends of their yarious natures, and Thy gracious designs towards them! And Thy Wisdom şo conducts the Eternal Scheme, that, however it may now appear to Thy
The author, however, does not offer this as a complete form. For Intercession, Thanksgiving, and some other parts of Prayer, could no otherwise make a part on this plan, than by petitioning for the regular discharge of them, considered as Duties.
Having explained the first intention of this piece, the author is now willing to preserve it in a collection of his own; hoping that the same candour, which he will stand in need of for the other parts of the present work, will suffice for this.
short-sighted creatures, it will at last unfold itself in a perfect consistent Whole, whose invariable object has all along been the greatest good of Thy whole Family; and thus will open a new scene to make them forever happy in the contemplation of such boundless Love and Perfection.
Thou hast portioned out Thy gifts and favours in various degrees' among Thy creatures.
To me* Thou hast given the noble Faculties of Reason and Understanding " Thou hast made me but a little lower than the Angels, and crowned me with Glory, Honour and Immortality.” Thou tookest me from the womb, and hast tenderly preserved and provided for me to this very moment. Thy unwearied patience has borne with all my failings; and Thy overflowing Love has even loaded me with undeserved favours and advantages.
But what language can speak Thee as Thou art? Thy goodness towards me rises far above all expressión, far above all thought. When I had strayed from Thee, and was sunk in ignorance, Thou Thyself vouchsafed to speak to me, rising up early and speaking. Thou didst also send Thy Servants the Prophets, rising up early and sending them. Last of all, Thou sentest the Son of Thy Bosom, with his holy Apostles, to save me from merited destruction; to restore my ruined nature; to instruct me in my duty, and guide me to endless rest. - How precious are Thy thoughts unto me, O my God! How great is the Sum of them! If I could count them, they are more in number than the sand on the Sea-shore!"
* Me, in the first person, is here put for the human species.
2. All this, O heavenly Father, I know Thou art; and all this I know Thou hast done for me!
2. Truths But when I inquire, in the next place, what with respect
I myself am, and what I have done in return; alas! my conscience tells me, that I have not always considered and acknowledged Thee as being what Thou art. I have often counterworked Thy gracious purposes towards me, and sinned against Thy Holy and Equitable Laws. Forgetting my high preeminence and prerogative of Birth, I have often perversely abused, or ungratefully neglected the proper use, of those noble powers with which Thou hast crowned my nature. My iniquities have taken hold of me so that I cannot look up. They are more in number than the hairs of my head; therefore my heart faileth me.” Yet still, when I reflect on Thy paternal Love, my hope is in Thy mercy, through the Redeemer, “ That Thou wilt hide Thy Face from my sins, and blot out all my transgressions."
In this sacred hope, I humbly prostrate myself before Thee, sincerely confessing my repeated trespasses, earnestly imploring Thy forgiveness of them, and stedfastly purposing, as far as in me lies, to amend my future conduct and life.
Look down then, O Thou First and Best of Beings! From eternal splendours and glories unutterable, look down with compassion on a sinful, but penitent Creature, humbled in the dust! For Thy dear Son Jesus Christ's sake, save me from the consequences of mine iniquities. Pardon what is past, and vouchsafe me the aid of Thy Holy Spirit to lead me through all future trials, in the steady exer
cise of those virtues, Moral, Divine and Social, which in the course of my researches, assisted by Thy Spirit and Revealed Will, I have discovered to be my Duties, towards Myself, towards Thee, and towards my Fellow Creatures.
THE PRACTICAL PART OF CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY.
ral Duties, re.
1. With regard to Myself, may I, for the future, practise the great virtue of Temperance, and pre
1. Petitions serve my body chaste, as the Temple of for the practice of privae Mo. the Holy Ghost. May I discipline my
Passions and regulate my Affections specting one's
aright, that so I may never be subjected to inordinate desires and violent commotions of Soul; but pass my time in Tranquillity, Sobriety, Frugality, and Industry.
And may I always remember, that my care is to reach beyond my body to my better part. Hence, may I strive, above all things, to improve the Divine faculties of Reason and Understanding; employing them, according to Thy design, as the means of searching and knowing the Truth, and conducting myself towards my true Happiness. And whatever acquisitions of knowlege, I may through Thy Aid attain, may I never be puffed up; but refer all to Thee, and in all my researches be self-diffident, from a sense of the extreme scantiness of the highest human attainments.
Yet, O my God! while in the pursuit of true knowledge, I abstain from sinful pride, on the one hand; may I also, on the other, abstain from a narrow despondent undervaluing of those powers which