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with it: it is no object of my faith: I believe just so much as God has revealed, and no more. But this, the manner, he has not revealed; therefore I believe nothing about it. But would it not be absurd in me to deny the fact, because I do not understand the manner ? That is, to reject what God has revealed, because I do not comprehend what he has not revealed.
16. This is a point much to be observed. There are many things " which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive.” Part of these God hath “revealed to us by his Spirit:"-" Revealed;" that is, unveiled, uncovered: that part he requires us to believe. Part of them he has not revealed : that we need not, and indeed, cannot believe: it is far above, out of our sight.
Now where is the wisdom of rejecting what is revealed, because we do not understand what is not revealed ? Of denying the fact, which God has unveiled, because we cannot see the manner, which is veiled still ?
17. Especially when we consider that what God has been pleased to reveal upon this head, is far from being a point of indifference ; is a truth of the last importance. It enters into the very heart of Christianity: it lies at the root of all vital religion.
Unless these three are one, how can "all men honour the Son, even as they honour the Father ?” “ I know not what to do,” says Socinus in a letter to his friend, “ with my untoward followers: they will not worship Jesus Christ. I tell them, it is written, 'Let all the angels of God worship him.' They answer, However that be, if he is not God, we dare not worship him. For “it is written, thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.'"
But the thing which I here particularly mean, is this: the knowledge of the Three-One God is interwoven with all true Christian faith; with all vital religion.
I do not say, that every real Christian can say with the Marquis de Renty, “ I bear about with me continually an experimental verity, and a plenitude of the presence of the ever blessed Trinity.” I apprehend this is not the experience of “ babes," but rather “fathers in Christ."
But I know not how any one can be a Christian believer, till he " hath (as St. John speaks) the witness in himself;" till “the Spirit of God witnesses with his spirit, that he is a child of God;" that is, in effect, till God the Holy Ghost witnesses that God the Father has accepted him through the merits of God the Son: and, having this witness, he honours the Son, and the blessed Spirit, “even as he honours the Father.”
18. Not that every Christian believer adverts to this; perhaps, at first, not one in twenty: but if you ask any of them a few questions, you will easily find it is implied in what he believes.
Therefore I do not see how it is possible for any to have vital religion, who denies that these three are one. And all my hope for them is, not that they will be saved, during their unbelief; (unless on the footing of honest heathens, upon the plea of invincible ignorance ;) but that God, before they go hence, will * bring them to the knowledge of the truth.”
SERMON LXI.-God's Approbation of His Works.
“And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good," Gen. i, 31.
1. When God created the heavens and the earth, and all that is therein, at the conclusion of each day's work, it is said, " And God saw that it was good.” Whatever was created was good in its kind; suited to the end for which it was designed ; adapted to promote the good of the whole, and the glory of the great Creator. This sentence it pleased God to pass with regard to each particular creature. But there is a remarkable variation of the expression, with regard to all the parts of the universe, taken in connection with each other, and constituting one system: “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.”
2. How small a part of this great work of God is man able to under stand! But it is our duty to contemplate what he has wrought, and to understand as much of it as we are able. For“ the merciful Lord,” as the psalmist observes," hath so done his marvellous works” of creation, as well as of providence, “that they ought to be had in remembrance” by all that fear him ; which they cannot well be, unless they are understood. Let us, then, by the assistance of that Spirit who giveth unto man understanding, endeavour to take a general survey of the works which God made in this lower world, as they were before they were disordered and depraved in consequence of the sin of man: we shall then easily see, that as every creature was good in its primeval state; so, when all were compacted in one general system,“ behold, they were very good.” I do not remember to have seen any attempt of this kind, unless in that truly excellent poem, (termed by Mr. Hutchinson, " That wicked farce !") Milton's “ Paradise Lost.”
I. 1.“ In the beginning God created the matter of the heavens and the earth.” (So the words, as a great man observes, may properly be translated.) He first created the four elements, out of which the whole universe was composed ; earth, water, air, and fire, all mingled together in one common mass. The grossest parts of this, the earth and water, were utterly without form, till God infused a principle of motion, commanding the air to move upon the face of the waters.” In the next place, the Lord God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” Here were the four constituent parts of the universe; the true, original, simple elements. They were all essentially distinct from each other; and yet so intimately mixed together, in all compound bodies, that we cannot find any, be it ever so minute, which does not contain them all.
2. “And God saw that” every one of these “was good ;” was perfect, in its kind. The earth was good. The whole surface of it was beautiful in a high degree. To make it more agreeable,
" He clothed
The universal face with pleasant green." He adorned it with flowers of every hue, and with shrubs and trees of every kind. And every part was fertile as well as beautiful; it was no way deformed by rough or ragged rocks; it did not shock the view with horrid precipices, huge chasms, or dreary caverns; with deep, impass
able morasses, or deserts of barren sand. But we have not any authority to say, with some learned and ingenious authors, that there were no mountains on the original earth, no unevenness on its surface. It is not easy to reconcile this hypothesis with those words of Moses, “The waters prevailed; and all the high hills that were under the whole heaven, were covered. Fifteen cubits upward (above the highest did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered," Gen. rii, 19–23. We have no reason to believe that these mountains were produced by the deluge itself: not the least intimation of this is given : therefore we cannot doubt but they existed before it.-Indeed they answered many excellent purposes, besides greatly increasing the beauty of the creation, by a variety of prospects, which had been totally lost had the earth been one extended plain. Yet we need not suppose their sides were abrupt, or difficult of ascent. It is highly probable that they rose and fell by almost insensible degrees.
3. As to the internal parts of the carth, even to this day, we have scarce any knowledge of them. Many have supposed the centre of the globe to be surrounded with an abyss of fire. Many others have imagined it to be encompassed with an abyss of water; which they supposed to be termed in Scripture," the great deep,” Gen. vii, 11; all the fountains of which were broken up, in order to the general deluge. But, however this was, we are sure all things were disposed therein with the most perfect order and harmony. Hence there were no agitations within the bowels of the globe; no violent convulsions; no concussions of the earth; no earthquakes; but all was unmoved as the pillars of heaven! There were then no such things as eruptions of fire; there were no volcanoes, or burning mountains. Neither Vesuvius, Etna, nor Hecla, if they had any being, then poured out smoke and fame, but were covered with a verdant mantle, from the top to the bottom.
4. The element of water, it is probable, was then mostly confined within the great abyss. In the new earth, (as we are informed by the apostle, Rev. xxi, 1,) " there will be no more sea;” none covering as now the face of the earth, and rendering so large a part of it uninhabitable by man. Hence it is probable, there was no external sea in the paradisiacal earth ; none, until the great deep burst the barriers which were originally appointed for it.—Indeed there was not then that need of the ocean for navigation which there is now: for either, as the poet supposes,
Omnis tulit omnia tellus ; every country produced whatever was requisite either for the necessity or comfort of its inhabitants; or man, being then (as he will be again at the resurrection) equal to angels, was made able to convey himself, at his pleasure, to any given distance; over and above that, those flaming messengers were always ready to minister to the heirs of salvation. But whether there was sea or not, there were rivers sufficient to water the earth, and make it very plenteous. These answered all the purposes of convenience and pleasure, by
“liquid lapse of murmuring stream;" to which were added gentle, genial showers, with salutary mists and exhalations. But there were no putrid lakes, no turbid or stagnating waters ; but only such as
“ Bore imprest Fair nature's image on their placid breast.” 5. The element of air was then always serene, and always friendly to man. It contained no frightful meteor, no unwholesome vapours, no poisonous exhalations. There were no tempests, but only cool and gen tle breezes,
Genitabilis aura Favoni ; fanning both man and beast, and wasting the fragrant odours on their silent wings. 6. The sun, the fountain of fire,
“Of this great world both eye and soul,” was situated at the most exact distance from the earth, so as to yield a sufficient quantity of heat (neither too little nor too much) to every part of it. God had not yet
“Bid his angels turn askance
This oblique globe.”
of Arctos, and eternal frost." There was no violent winter, or sultry summer; no extreme, either of heat or cold. No soil was burnt up by the solar heat; none uninhabitable through the want of it. Thus earth, water, air, and fire, all conspired together to the welfare and pleasure of man!
7. To the same purpose served the grateful vicissitude of light and darkness, day and night. For as the human body, though not liable to death or pain, yet needed continual sustenance by food; so, although it was not liable to weariness, yet it needed continual reparation by sleep. By this the springs of the animal machine were wound up from time to time, and kept always fit for the pleasing labour for which man was designed by his Creator. Accordingly“ the evening and the morning were the first day,” before sin or pain was in the world. The first natural day had one part dark, for a season of repose ; one part light, for a season of labour. And even in paradise “ Adam slept,” Gen. ii, 21, before he sinned : sleep, therefore, belonged to innocent human nature. Yet I do not apprehend it can be inferred from hence, that there is either darkness or sleep in heaven. Surely there is no darkness in that city of God. Is it not expressly said, Rev. xxii, 5, “ there shall be no night there?” Indeed they have no light from the sun; but “the Lord giveth them light.” So it is all day in heaven, as it is all night in hell! On earth we have a mixture of both. Day and night succeed each other, till earth shall be turned to heaven. Neither can we at all credit the account given by the ancient poet, concerning sleep in heaven; although he allows “cloud-compelling Jove" to remain awake, while the inferior gods were sleeping. It is pity, therefore, that our great poet should copy so servilely after the old heathen, as to tell us,
Sleep had seal'd All but the unsleeping eyes of God himself.” Not so: they that are “before the throne of God, serve him day and night,” speaking after the manner of men, “ in his temple," Rev. vii, 15; that is, without any interval. As wicked spirits are tormented day and night, without any intermission of their misery; so holy spirits enjoy God day and night, without any intermission of their happiness.
8. On the second day God encompassed the terraqueous globe with that noble appendage, the atmosphere, consisting chiefly of air ; but replete with earthly particles of various kinds, and with huge volumes of water, sometimes invisible, sometimes visible, buoyed up by that etherial fire, a particle of which cleaves to every particle of air. By this the water was divided into innumerable drops, which, descending, watered the earth and made it very plenteous, without incommoding any of its inhabitants. For there were then no impetuous currents of air ; no tempestuous winds; no furious hail; no torrents of rain; no rolling thunders, or forky lightnings. One perennial spring was perpetually smiling over the whole surface of the earth.
9. On the third day God commanded all kinds of vegetables to spring out of the earth; and then, to add thereto, innumerable herbs, intermixed with flowers of all hucs. To these were added shrubs of every kind; together with tall and stately trees, whether for shade, for timber, or for fruit, in endless variety. Some of these were adapted to particular climates, or particular exposures; while vegetables of more general use, (as wheat in particular,) were not confined to one country, but would flourish almost in every climate. But among all these there were no weeds; no useless plants; none that encumbered the ground; much less were there any poisonous ones, tending to hurt any one creature; but every thing was salutary in its kind, suitable to the gracious design of its great Creator.
10. The Lord now created “the sun to rule the day, and the moon to govern the night.” The sun was
“Of this great world both eye and soul:"the eye, making all things visible; distributing light to every part of the system ; and thereby rejoicing both earth and sky ;-and the soul ; the principle of all life, whether to vegetables or animals. Some of the uses of the moon we are acquainted with; her causing the ebbing and flowing of the sea, and influencing, in a greater or smaller degree, all the fluids in the tei raqueous globe. And many other uses she may have, unknown to us, but known to the wise Creator. But it is certain she had no hurtful, no unwholesome influence on any living creature. “He made the stars also ;" both those that move round the sun, whether of the primary or secondary order; or those that, being at a far greater distance, appear to us fixed in the firmament of heaven. Whether comets are to be numbered among the stars, and whether they were parts of the original creation, is, perhaps, not so easy to determine, at least with certainty; as we have nothing but probable coniecture, either concerning their nature or their use. We know not whether (as some ingenious men have imagined) they are ruined worlds, -worlds that have undergone a general conflagration; or whether (as others not improbably suppose) they are immense reservoirs of fluids, appointed to revolve at certain seasons, and to supply the still decreasing moisture of the earth. But certain we are, that they did not either produce or portend any evil. They did not, (as many have fancied since,
" From their horrid hair,
Shake pestilence and war." 11. The Lord God afterwards peopled the earth with animals of every kind He first commanded the waters to bring forth abundantly;