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by the things that are made, Rom. i. 20. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handy-work. Day unto day uttereth speech, night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language where there voice is heard, Psal. xix. 1, 2, 3.
Doth he preserve his creatures ? it is to answer his own designs, the depth of which no finite mind can fathom; but designs which we shall one day know, and admire his wisdom when we know them, as we adore it now, though we know them not.
Doth he send plagues, wars, famines ? it is to make those feel his justice who have abused his goodness, it is to avenge the violation of his law, the contempt of his gospel, the forgetting and forsaking of the interest of his church.
Doth he afford us prosperity ? it is to draw us with the bands of love, Hosea xi. 4. it is to reveal himself to us by that love which is his essence; it is to engage us to imitate him, who never leaves himself without witness in doing good, Acts xiv. 17.
Doth he impart knowledge to us ? it is to discover the snares that surround us, the miseries that threaten us, the origin from which we sprang, the course of life we should follow, and the end at which we should aim.
Doth he communicate virtues ? it is to animate us in our race; it is to convince us that there is a mighty arm to raise us from the abyss into which our natural corruption hath plunged us ; it is that we may work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, knowing that God worketh in us to will and to do of his own good pleasure, Phil. ii. 12, 13.
Doth he send us error ? it is to make us respect that truth which we have resisted.
Doth he abandon us to our vices? it is to punishi us for some other vices which we have committed voluntarily and freely; so that, if we could comprehend it, his loye for holiness never appears more clearly, than when he abandons men to vice in this
Doth he raise up kings ? it is always to oblige them to administer justice, to protect the widow and the orphan, to maintain order and religion. Yet, he often permits them to violate equity, to oppress their people, and to become the scourges of his anger. By them he frequently teacheth us how little account he makes of human grandeurs, seeing he bestows-them sometimes upon unworthy men, upon men allured by voluptuousness, governed by ambition, and dazzled with their own glory, upon men who ridicule piety, sell their consciences, negotiate faith and religion, sacrificing the souls of their children to the infamous passions that govern themselves.
Doth he prolong our life? it is because he is long suffering to us, 2 Pet. iii. 9. it is because he opens in our fayor the riches of his goodness, and forbearance to lead us to repentance, Rom. ii. 4.
Doth he call us to die? it is to open those eternal books in which our actions are registered; it is to gather our souls into his bosom, to bind them up in the bundle of life, 1 Sam. xxv. 29. to mix them with the ransomed armies of all nations, tongues, and people, Rev. vii. 9.
Such are our ideas of the omnipresence of God. Thus God seeth all, influenceth all, directeth all. In this sense we are to understand this magnificent language of scripture. Will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven, and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee, 1 Kings viii: 27. Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool, Isa. lxvi. 1. Where is the house that ye build unto me? do I not fill heaven and earth, saith the Lord ? am I a God at hand, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? Jer. xxiii. 23, 24. This is what the heathens had a glimpse of, when they said, that God was a circle, the centre of which was every where, and its circumference no where. That all things were full of Jupiter. That he filled all his works. That, fly whither we would, we were always before his eyes. This is what the followers of Mahomet meant, when they said, that where there were two persons, God
, made the third : where there were three, God made the fourth. Above all, this was our prophet's meaning throughout the Psalm, a part of which we have explained. “ O Lord, thou hast searched me and known me.
Thou knowest my down sitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, I cannot attain unto it. Whither shall I go from thy spirit ? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there. If I make my bed in hell, behold thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost part of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee, but the night shineth as the day : the darkness and the light are both alike to thee, yer. 1, &c.
If I say,
But perhaps, during the course of this meditation, you may have murmured at our presenting an object, of which all the preaching in the world can give you only imperfect ideas. Suspend your judgments; we are going to shew you whither this discourse, all glimmering as it is, ought to conduct you. We are going to see what salutary consequences follow our efforts, even the weak efforts, that we have been making to explain the grandeur and omnipresence of God. Let us pass to the conclusion, the chief design of this discourse.
1. Our first reflection is on the difficulties we meet with in fixing our minds on such subjects as we have been hearing. You have doubtless expe. rienced, if you have endeavored to follow us, that
, you are weary, and wander when you would
go beyond matter. Our minds find almost nothing real, where they meet with nothing sensible. As if the whole essence of beings were corporeal, the mind loseth its way when it ceaseth to be directed by bodies, and it needs the help of imagination to represent even those things which are not susceptible of images; and yet whatever is most grand and noble in the nature of beings is spirit. The sublimest objects, angels who are continually before God, seraphims who cover their faces, in his presence, Isa. vi. 2, cherubims who are the ministers of his will, thousand thousands which minister unto him, ten thousand times ten thousand which stand before him, Dan. vii. 10. what is most glorious in man, what elevates him above other animals, a soul made in the image of God himself ; the Being of beings, the Sovereign Beauty : all these beings are spiritual, abstract, free from sense and matter. Moreover, what pleases and enchants us in bodies, even that comes from a subject abstract, spiritual and corporeal. Without your soul,
aliments have no taste, flowers no smell, the earth no enamel, fire no heat, the stars no brilliancy, the sun no light. Matter of itself is void, and gross, destitute of all the qualities with which our imagination clothes it, and which are proper to our souls. What ought we to conclude from this re
. flection ? My brethren, have you no idea of your dignity, and primitive grandeur ? Have you not even yet some faint resemblances of beings formed in the Creator's image? you ought, feeble as you are, confined as you are in a manner to matter, you should deplore your misery, you should groan under that necessity, which, in some sort, confounds your souls with a little dust, you should sigh after that happy state in which your rapid, free and unclogged spirits shall meditate like themselves. This is the first duty we should prescribe to you.
%. Our next reflection is on the majesty of our religion. That must certainly be thought the true religion which gives us the noblest ideas of God. Let our religion be judged by this rule. Where do we see the attributes of the Supreme Being placed in so clear a light ? what can be more noble than this idea of God? what can be conceived more sublime than a Being whom nothing escapes, before whom all things are naked and open, Heb. iv. 13. who, by one single look, fully comprehends all beings past, present, and to come, all that do exist, all that possibly can exist? who thinks, in the same instant, with equal facility on bodies and spirits, on all the dimensions of time and of matter? What more noble can be conceived than a Being who imparteth himself to all, diffuseth himself through all, influenceth all, giveth life and motion to all? What can be conceived more noble than a Being who directeth the conduct of the whole universe, who knoweth how to make all concur to his designs, who