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to another, if man could subsist for a singles as well as of laws that never are rescinded. day, when all the accomplishments without, It is for us that he upholds the world in all were thus at war with all the hopes and its regularity. It is for us that he sustains calculations within. In such a chaos and so inviolably the march and the movement conflict as this, would not the foundations of those innumerable progressions which of human wisdom be utterly subverted ? are going on around us. It is in rememWould not man, with his powerful and per- brance of his promises to us, that he meets petual tendency to proceed on the constancy all our anticipations of Nature's uniformity, of Nature, be tempted, at all times, and by with the evolutions of a law that is unalthe very constitution of his being, to pro- terable. It is because he is a God that canceed upon a falsehood ? It were the way, I not lie, that he will make no invasion on in fact, to turn the administration of Nature that wondrous correspondency which he into a system of deceit. The lessons of to-himself hath instituted between the world day, would be falsified by the events of to that is without, and our little world of morrow. He were indeed the father of lies hopes, and projects, and anticipations that who could be the author of such a regimen are within. By the constancy of Nature, as this—and well may we rejoice in the he hath imprinted upon it the lesson of his strict order of the goodly universe which own constancy-and that very character. we inhabit, and regard it as a noble attesta-istic wherewith some would fortify the untion to the wisdom and beneficence of its godliness of their hearts, is the most imgreat Architect.
pressive exhibition which can be given of But it is more especially as an evidence | God, as always faithful, and always the of his truth, that the constancy of Nature is same. adverted to in our text. It is of his faithful This, then, is the real character which the ness unto all generations that mention is constancy of Nature should lead us to assign there made--and for the growth and the to him who is the Author of it. In every discipline of your piety, we know not a bet- human understanding, he hath planted a ter practical habit than that of recognising universal instinct, by which all are led to the unchangeable truth of God, throughout believe that Nature will persevere in her your daily and hourly experience of Na- wonted courses, and that each succession iure's unchangeableness. Your faith in it of cause and effect which has been observed is of his working--and what a condition by us in the time that is past, will, while would you have been reduced to, had the the world exists, be kept up invariably, and faith which is within, not been met by an recur in the very same order through the entire and unexpected accordancy with the time that is to come. This constancy, then
, fulfilments that are without! He has not is as good as a promise that he has made told you what to expect by the utterance of unto all men, and all that is around us on a voice—but he has taught you what to ex-earth or in heaven, proves how inflexibly pect by the leadings and the intimations of the promise is adhered to. The chemist in a strong constitutional tendency-and, in his laboratory, as he questions Nature, may virtue of this, there is not a human creature be almost said to put her to the torture
, who does not believe, and almost as firmly when tried in his hottest furnace
, or probed as in his own existence, that fire will con- by his searching analysis, to her innermost tinue to burn, and water to cool, and matter arcana, she, by a spark, or an explosion, or to resist, and unsupported bodies to fall, and an effervescence, or an evolving substance
, ocean to bear the adventurous vessel upon makes her distinct replies to his investigaits surface, and the solid earth to uphold tions. And he repeats her answer
to all his the tread of his footsteps ; and that spring fellows in philosophy, and they meet in will appear again in her wonted smiles, and academic state and judgment to reiterate summer will glow into heat and brilliancy, the question, and in every quarter of the and autumn will put on the same luxuri- globe her answer is the same—so that, let ance as before, and winter,
at its stated pe- the experiment, though a thousand times riods, revisit the world with her darkness repeated, only be alike in all its circumand her storms. We cannot sum up those stances, the result which cometh forth is as countless varieties of Nature; but the firm rigidly alike, without deficiency, and with: expectation is, that throughout them all, as out deviation. We know how possible it is she has been established, so she will abide for these worshippers at the footstool of to the day of her final dissolution. And I science, to make a divinity of matter; and call upon you to recognise in Nature's con- that every new discovery of her secrets stancy, the answer of Nature's God to this should only rivet them more devotedly to expectation. All these material agents are, her throne. But there is a God who liveth in fact, the organs by which he expresses and sitteth there, and these unvarying rehis faithfulness to the world ; and that un sponses of Nature are all prompted by himveering generality which reigns and con- sell, and are but the utterances of bis im tinues every where, is but the perpetual mulability. They are the replies of a God demonstration of a truth that never varies, I who never changes, and who hath adapted
the whole materialism of creation to the so fixed, that we apprehend the God of Naconstitution of every mind that he hath sent ture to be so faithful. He who never falsifies forth upon it. And to meet the expectation the hope that hath arisen in every bosom, which he himself hath given of Nature's from the instinct which he himself hath constancy, is he at each successive instant communicated, will never falsify the hope of time, vigilant and ready in every part of that shall arise in any bosom from the exhis vast dominions, to hold out to the eye of press utterance of his voice. Were he a God all observers, the perpetual and unfailing in whose hand the processes of Nature were demonstration of it. The certainties of Na-ever shifting, then might we conceive him ture and of Science are, in fact, the vocables a God from whose mouth the proclamations by which God announces his truth to the of grace had the like characters of variance world—and when told how impossible it is and vacillation. But it is just because of that Nature can fluctuate, we are only told our reliance on the one, that we feel so how impossible it is that the God of Nature much of repose in our dependence upon the can deceive us.
other-and the same God who is so unfailThe doctrine that Nature is constant, ing in the ordinances of his creation, do we when thus related, as it ought to be, with hold to be equally unfailing in the ordithe doctrine that God is true, might well nances of his word. strengthen our confidence in him anew with And it is strikingly accordant with these every new experience of our history. There views, that Nature never has been known is not an hour or a moment, in which we to recede from her constancy, but for the may not verify the one-and, therefore, not purpose of giving place and demonstration an hour or a moment in which we may not to the authority of the word. Once, in a invigorate the other. Every touch, and season of miracle, did the word take the every look, and every taste, and every act precedency of Nature, but ever since hath of converse between our senses and the Nature resumed her courses, and is now things that are without, brings home a new proving by her steadfastness, the authority demonstration of the steadfastness of Na- of that, which she then proved to be auture, and along with it a new demonstration thentic by her deviations. When the word both of his steadfastness and of his faithful-was first ushered in, Nature gave way for ness, who is the Governor of Nature. And a period, after which she moves in her the same lesson may be fetched from times wonted order, till the present system of and from places, that are far beyond the things shall pass away, and that faith which limits of our own personal history. It can is now upholden by Nature's constancy, be drawn fom the retrospect of past ages, shall then receive its accomplishment at where, from the unvaried currency of those Nature's dissolution. And O, how God magvery processes which we now behold, we nifieth his word above all his name, when may learn the stability of all his ways, he tells that heaven and earth shall pass whose goings forth are of old, and from away, but that his word shall not pass everlasting. It can be gathered from the away—and that while his creation shall most distant extremities of the earth, where become a wreck, not one jot or one tittle of Nature reigns with the same unwearied his testimony shall fail
. The world passeth constancy, as it does around us and where away—but the word endureth for eversavages count as we do on a uniformity, and if the faithfulness of God stand forth so from which she never falters. The lesson legibly on the face of the temporary world, is commensurate with the whole system of how surely may we reckon on the faithfulthings—and with an effulgence as broad as ness of that word, which has a vastly higher the face of creation, and as clear as the light place in the counsels and fulfilments of which is poured over it, does it at once tell eternity. that Nature is unchangeably constant, and The argument may not be comprehended that God is unchangeably true.
by all, but it will not be lost, should it lead And so it is, that in our text there are any to feel a more emphatic certainty and presented together, as if there was a tie of meaning than before, in the declarations of likeness between them-that the same God the Bible--and to conclude, that he who for who is fixed as to the ordinances of Nature, ages hath stood so fixed to all his plans and is faithful as to the declaration of his word; purposes in Nature, will stand equally fixed and as all experience proves how firmly he to all that he proclaims, and to all that he may be trusted for the one, so is there an promises in Revelation. To be in the hands argument as strong as experience, to prove of such a God, might well strike a terror how firmly he may be trusted for the other. into the hearts of the guilty-and that unBy his work in us, he hath awakened relenting death, which, with all the sureness the expectation of a constancy in Nature, of an immutable law, is seen, before our which he never disappoints. By his word eyes, to seize upon every individual of every to us, should he awaken the expectation of species of our world, fúll well evinces how a certainty in his declarations, this he will he, the uncompromising Lawgiver, will exnever disappoint. It is because Nature is ecute every utterance that he has made
against the children of iniquity. And, on | It is because the arrangements of his vast the other hand, how this very contempla- and capacious household are already ordertion ought to encourage all who are looking ed for the best, and all the elements of Nato the announcements of the same God in ture are the ministers by which he fulfils the Gospel, and who perceive that there he them. That is the master who has most has embarked the same truth, and the same honour and obedience from his domestics, unchangeableness on the offers of mercy. throughout all whose ordinations there runs All Nature gives testimony to this, that he a consistency from which he never devicannot lie--and seeing that he has stamped ates; and he best sustains his dignity in such enduring properties on the elements the midst of them, who, by mild but resisteven of our perishable world, never should less sway, can regulate the successions of I falter from that confidence which he hath every hour, and affix his sure and appropritaught me to feel, when I think of that pro- ate service to every member of the family. perty wherewith the blood which was shed It is when we see all, in any given time, for me, cleanseth from all sin; and of that at their respective places, and each disproperty wherewith the body which was tinct period of the day having its own broken, beareth the burden of all its penal- distinct evolution of business or recreation, ties. He who hath so nobly met the faith that we infer the wisdom of the instituted that he has given unto all in the constancy government, and how irrevocable the sancof Nature, by a uniformity which knows tions are by which it is upholden. The no abatement, will meet the faith that he vexatious alternations of command and of has given unto any in the certainty of grace, countermand; the endless fancies of huby a fulfilment unto every believer, which mour, and caprice, and waywardness, which knows no exception.
ever and anon break forth, to the total And it is well to remark the difference overthrow of system; the perpetual tothat there is between the explanation given novations which none do foresee, and for in the text, of Nature's constancy, and the which none, therefore, can possibly be preimpression which the mere students or pared—these are not more harassing to disciples of Nature have of it. It is because the subject, than they are disparaging to of her constancy that they have been led the truth and authority of the superior. to invest her, as it were, in properties of It is in the bosom of a well-conducied saher own; that they have given a kind of in- mily, where you witness the sure dispensadependent power and stability to matter; tion of all the reward and encouragement that in the various energies which lie scat- which have been promised, and the unfailtered over the field of visible contemplation, ing execution of the disgrace and the disthey see a native inherent virtue, which missal that are held forth to obstinate disnever for a single moment is slackened obedience. Now those very qualities of or suspended—and therefore imagine, that which this uniformity is the test and the as no force from without seems necessary characteristic in the government of any to sustain, so as little, perhaps, is there need human society, of these also is it the test for any such force from without to originate. and the characteristic in the government The mechanical certainty of all Nature's of Nature. It bespeaks the wisdom, and the processes, as it appears in their eyes to authority, and the truth of him who framed supersede the demand for any upholding and who administers. Let there be a King agency, so does it also supersede, in the eternal, immortal, and invisible, and let this silent imaginations of many, and according universe be his empire-and in all the to the express and bold avowals of some, rounds of its complex but unerring mechanthe demand for any creative agency. It is ism, do I recognise him as the only wise God. thus, that Nature is raised into a divinity, In the constancy of Nature, do I read the and has been made to reign over all, in the constancy and truth of that great master state and jurisdiction of an eternal fatalism; Spirit, who hath imprinted his own characand proud Science, which by wisdom ter on all that hath emanated from his knoweth not God, hath in her march of power; and when told that throughout the discovery, seized upon the invariable cer- mighty lapse of centuries, all the courses tainties of Nature, those highest character-both of earth and of heaven, have been istics of his authority and wisdom and upholden as before, I only recognise the truth, as the instruments by which to dis- footsteps of him who is ever the same, and prove and to dethrone him.
whose faithfulness is unto all generations. Now compare this interpretation of mon- That perpetuity, and order, and ancient strous and melancholy atheism, with that law of succession, which have subsisted so which the Bible gives, why all things move long, throughout the wide diversity of so invariably. It is because that all are thy things, bear witness to the Lord of hosts, servants. It is because they are all under as still at the head of his well-marshalled the bidding of a God who has purposes family. The present age is only re-echo from which he never falters, and hath is-ing the lesson of all past ages and that fued promises from which he never fails. I spectacle, which has misled those who by
wisdom know not God, into dreary atheism, every proclamation that he hath uttered in has enhanced every demonstration both of Scripture. There is nought of the fast and his veracity and power, to all intelligent loose in any of his processes—and whether worshippers. We know that all things in the terrible denunciations of Sinai, or those continue as they were from the beginning mild proffers of mercy that were sounded of creation. We know that the whole of forth upon the world through Messiah, who surrounding materialism stands forth, to upholdeth all things by the word of his powthis very hour, in all the inflexibility of her er, shall we alike experience that God is not wonted characters. We know that heaven, to be mocked, and that with him there is no and earth, and sea, still discharge the same variableness, neither shadow of turning. functions, and subserve the very same be- With this certainty then upon our spirits, neficent processes. We know that astrono- let us now look, not to the successions my plies the same rounds as before, that which he hath instituted in nature, but to the cycles of the firmament move in their the successions which he hath announced to old and appointed order, and that the year us, in the word of his testimony—and let circulates as it has ever done, in grateful us, while so doing, fix and solemnize our variety, over the face of an expectant world thoughts by the consideration, that as God --but only because all are of God, and they hath said it, so will he do it. continue this day according to his ordi- The first of these successions, then, on nances-for all are his servants.
which we may count infallibly, is that Now, it is just because the successions which he hath proclaimed between sin and which take place in the economy of Nature, punishment. The soul that sinneth it shall are so invariable, that we should expect the die. And here there is a common ground successions which take place in the econo- on which the certainties of divine revelamy of God's moral government to be equal- tion meet and are at one with the certainly invariable. That expectation which he ties of human experience. We are told in never disappoints when it is the fruit of a the Bible, that all have sinned, and that, universal instinct, he surely will never dis- therefore, death hath passed upon all men. appoint when it is the fruit of his own ex- The connexion between these two terms is press and immediate revelation. If because announced in Scripture to be invariableGod hath so established it, it cometh to and all observation tells us, that it is even pass, then of whatsoever it may be affirmed so. Such was the sentence uttered in the that God hath so said it, it will come equally hearing of our first parents; and all history to pass. I should certainly look for the can attest how God hath kept by the word same character in the administrations of of his threatening and how this law of his special grace, that I, at all times, wit- jurisprudence from heaven is realized beness in the administrations of his ordinary fore us upon earth, with all the certainty providence. If I see in the system of his of a law of Nature. The death of man is world, that the law by which two events just as stable and as essential a part of his follow each other, gives rise to a connexion physiology, as are his birth, or his expanbetween them that never is dissolved, then sion, or his maturity, or his decay. It looks should he say in his word, that there are as much a thing of organic necessity, as a certain invariable methods of succession, thing of arbitrary institution--and here do in virtue of which when the first term of it we see blended into one exhibition, a ceroccurs, the second is sure at all times to tainty of the divine word that never fails, follow, I should be very sure in my antici- and a constancy in Nature that never is depations, that it will indeed be most punc-parted from. It is indeed a striking accordtually and most rigidly so. It is thus, that ancy, that what in one view of it appears the constancy of Nature is in fullest har- to be a uniform process of Nature, in anmony with the authority of Revelation- other view of it, is but the unrelenting exeand that, when fresh from the contempla- cution of a dread utterance from the God tion of the one, I would listen with most of Nature. From this contemplation may implicit faith to all the announcements of we gather, that God is as certain in all his the other.
words, as he is constant in all his ways. When we behold all to be so sure, and Men can philosophize on the diseases of the settled in the works of God, then may we human system-and the laborious treatise look for all being equally sure and settled can be written on the class, and the characin the word of God. Philosophy hath ter, and the symptoms, of each of themnever yet detected one iota of deviation and in our hails of learning, the ample defrom the ordinances of Nature-and never, monstration can be given, and disciples may therefore, may we conclude, shall the ex- be taught how to judge and to prognosticate, perience either of past or future ages, de- and in what appearances to read the fell tect one iota of deviation from the ordi- precursors of mortality and death has so ances of Revelation. He who so pointedly taken up its settled place among the immuadheres to every plan that he hath establish-tabilities of Nature, that it is as familiarly ed in creation, will as pointedly adhere to treated in the lecture-rooms of science, as
any other phenomena which Nature has to the most impressive commentary that can offer for the exercise of the human under- be given on the reverence which is due standing. And, O, how often are the smile to all his communications, even by de. and the stoutness of infidelity seen to min-monstrating, that faith in his word is at gle with this appalling contemplation-and unison with the findings of our daily obhow little will its hardy professors bear to be servation. told, that what gives so dread a certainty to But God hath further said of sin and of their speculation is, that the God of Nature its consequences, what no observation of and the God of the Bible, are one-that when ours has yet realized. He hath told us of they describe, in lofty nomenclature, the the judgment that cometh after death, and path of dying humanity, they only describe he hath told us of the two diverse paths the way in which he fulfils upon it his ir- which lead from the judgment-seat unto revocable denunciation--tha the is but doing eternity. Of these we have not yet seen now to the posterity of Adam what he the verification, yet surely we have seen told to Adam himself
on his expulsion from enough to prepare us for the unfailing accomParadise-and that, if the universality of plishment of every utterance that cometh death prove how every law in the physics from the lips of God. The unexcepted of creation is sure, it just as impressively death which we know cometh upon all proves, how every word of God's immedi- men, for that all have sinned, might well ate utterance to man, or how every word of convince us of the certainty of that second prophecy, is equally sure.
death which is threatened upon all who And in every instance of mortality which turn not from sin unto the Saviour. There you are called to witness, do we call upon is an indissoluble succession here between you to read in it the intolerance of God our sinning and our dying—and we ought for sin, and how unsparingly and unrelent- now to be so aware of God as a God of ingly it is, that God carries into effect his precise and peremptory execution, as to every utterance against it. The connection look upon the succession being equally inwhich he hath instituted between the two dissoluble, between our dying in sin now, terms of sin and of death should lead you and rising to everlasting condemnation herefrom every appeal that is made to your aster. The sinner who wraps himself in de senses by the one, to feel the force of an lusive security--and that, because all things appeal to your conscience by the other. continue as they have done, does not reflect It proves the hatefulness of sin to God, and of this very characteristic, that it is indeed it also proves with what unfaltering con- the most awful proof of God's immutable stancy God will prosecute every threat un- counsels, and to himself the most trementil he hath made an utter extirpation of sin dous presage of all the ruin and wretchedfrom his presence. There is nought which ness which have been denounced upon him. can make more palpable the way in which The spectacle of uniformity that is before God keeps every saying in his perpetual his eyes, only goes to ascertain that as God remembrance, and as surely proceeds upon hath purposed, so, without vacillation or it, than doth this universal plague where inconstaney, will he ever perform. He hath with he hath smitten every individual of already given a sample, or an earnest of this, our species, and carries off its successive in the awful ravages of death; and we ask generations from a world that sprung from the sinner to behold, in the ever-recurring his hand in all the bloom and vigour of spectacle of moving funerals, and desolated immortality. When death makes entrance families, the token of that still deeper perupon a family, and perhaps, seizes on that dition which awaits him. Let him not think one member of it, all whose actual trans- that the God who deals his relentless inflicgressions might be summed up in the out- tions here on every son and daughter of the breakings of an occasional waywardness, species, will falter there from the work of wherewith the smiles of infant gaiety were vengeance that shall then descend on the chequered-still how it demonstrates the heads of the impenitent. 0, how deceived unbending purposes of God against our then are all those ungodly, who have been present accursed nature, that in some one building to themselves a safety and an er or other of its varieties, every specimen emption on the perpetuity of Nature! All must die. And so it is, that from one age the perpetuity which they have witnessed, to another, he makes open manisestation to is the pledge of a God who is unchangethe world, that every utterance which hath able—and who, true to his threatening as to fallen from him is sure; and that ocular every other utterance which passes his lips, proof is given to the character of him who hath said, in the hearing of men and of is a Spirit, and is invisible ; and that sense angels, that the soul which is in sin shall lends its testimony to the truth of God, and perish. the truth of his Scripture ; and that Nature, But, secondly, there is another succession when rightly viewed, instead of placing announced to us in Scripture, and on the its inquirers at atheistical variance with certainty of which we may place as firm a the being who upholds it, holds out to us I reliance as on any of the observed succes