« PreviousContinue »
But thou hast implanted a spirit in man, to which thou hast given superior measures of understanding. And I pray that this noblest part of my composition may never sink so far below its dignity, and the end of its peculiar creation, that it may never fall into such a state of error and wretchedness, as to be alienated from thy service and honour. Fix in me a steady conviction, that from my natural capacity of knowing thee, my most refined pleasures and surest supports are derived; and that these, while I am fitly disposed to receive and enjoy thein, and thou, O God, who inhabitest eternity, continuest to exist, can never fail. Impress these thoughts ever upon my mind, that all virtue, by resulting from thy all-wise constitution of nature, is more firmly established, as an universal and unalterable tie; that its beauty and excellence are more clearly illustrated, and its authority more strongly enforced, by its being a law of thy supreme government; that all power, honour, order, every thing great and good, every thing lovely, and desirable, are contained in, and must be originally derived from, thee.
May I always cherish a deep sense of this
-most sure and important truth, that without the belief of thy being, and watchful providence, utter uncertainty of happiness, and apprehensions full of dread, must be diffused throughout the whole moral world. I have the highest reason to rejoice, Othou first, all-creating power, that thy bright and glorious footsteps, and the evidences of thy being, en. graven in shining characters, may be distinctly traced, through every part of the vast system of nature. By the numberless effects of intelligence and power which I clearly see, not one of which could be the cause of its own existence, I am necessarily led to acknowledge and adore thee, as the first and universal cause, the maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible; the former of all material substances, and the father of all spirits. The whole of this stupendous fabric was thy designed and free production ; and to convince us, that every thing in it is continually dependent upon thee, thou hast made it, in all its parts, and with all its beauties, efficacies, connections, and uses, unfixed and fluctuating, and subject to infinite changes ; so that thou canst alter as thou pleasest, or destroy in an instant, all that thy right hand of power and majesty hath formed. To thee, therefore, would I always direct my views, O self-existent God, who wast unchangeably the same, before the mountains were brought forth, or ever the foundations of the world were laid, to support my frame, and uphold that being, which thou hast been pleased to vouchsafe unto me. O preserve me, by humble acquiescence and duty, inseparably united to thee, and in the enjoyment of a dignity and happiness suited to my rank, for ever.
Let me, with profound devotion, celebrate thy praise, for the greatness of thy majesty and wisdom, displayed in the immensity of the works of nature, their correspondence to each other, and their exact proportions ; in the exquisite structure of the several parts, and the harmonious order and magnificent composition of the whole. All thy works, O God, praise thee : the blessed inhabitants of heaven, who have been witnesses to the wonders of thy creating might, magnify thee ; and may all thy rational creatures, as if inspired by one spirit, join in this holy act of adoration, and say, Thou art worthy, O Lord, who sittest upon the throne, and livest for ever and ever, to receive glory, and honour, and power.
For thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are, and were, created. Amen.
ON THE SAME SUBJECT.
OTHOU great cause and author of nature ! Having discovered that thou art, and in some measure what thou art, I commit myself to thy continual guidance and direction. Do thou, whose all-powerful word did at first command light to arise out of darkness, assist my sincere and humble inquiries, that I may find out more of thee, and be led on to discern more distinctly what attributes I ought to ascribe to thee. Dispel my ignorance, and those clouds of error that are apt to attend my most serious and impartial reasonings upon a subject so sublime, and, in its full extent of glory, so incomprehensible. And from what I certainly know of thy wonderful works, let me learn a rational submission and confidence in thee, as to those innumerable other things, that at present remain concealed from me, and wrapped up in darkness. Let not
pride and presumption mislead me.
Let not low and irregular passions debase and enfeeble my understanding. Let not any corrupt prejudice darken my mind, and intercept my views of thee. Let not superstition, by disturbing my imagination, and alarming my fears, betray me into any dishonourable and impious conceptions of thee, by placing on thy eternal throne of supremacy, an idol, whom I cannot truly reverence, or an object of horror that I cannot love. But be pleased to grant, O Father of our spirits, that, so far as our faculties can extend, I may see thee as thou art, and form just and worthy notions of thy infinite excellence. May my knowledge of thee purify and elevate my heart, and make me partaker of a divine nature.
And whilst thy eternity, and self-origination, astonishing and unfathomable attributes! fill my soul with admiration and a solemn awe, let me not bewilder myself in bold conjectures and vain attempts to explain, what is so far beyond the utmost scope of my reason. But let me be contented with knowing this much, and animated to pursue steadily the great end of my being, by this pleasing reflection, that