« PreviousContinue »
which your rapid, frec; and unclogged spirits, Thall meditate like themfelves. This is the first: duty we should prescribe to you.
2. Our next reflection is on the majesty of our religion. That must certainly be thought the true religion which gives us the nobleft ideas of God. Let our religion be judged by this rule. Where do we fee the attributes of the Supreme Being placed in so clear a ligh: ? what can be more noble than this idea of God? what can be conceived more fublime than a Being whom nothing escapes, before whom all tbings are naked and open, Heb. iv, 13. who, by one fingle look, fully comprehends all beings, past, present, and to come, all that do exist, all that possibly can exift; who thinks, in the fame instant, with equal facility on bodies and spirits, on all the dimena fions of tiine and of matter ? What more noble can be conceived than a Being who imparteth hinself to all, diffufeth himself through all, ingua enceth all, giveth life and motion to all? What can be conceived more noble than a Being who. directerb the conduct of the whole universe, who knoweth how to make all concur to his designs, who knoweth how to connect alike with the laws of order and equity, the virtues of the righteous, the vices of the wicked, the praises of the bappy, the blafphemies of the victims facrificed to his vengeance in' hell? When we find in any hea. then philofopher, amidst a thousand false notions, amidst a thousand wild imaginations, fome few leaves of the fowers with wliich our bibles are strewed, we are ready to cry a miracle, a miracle, we transmit these threds of the Deity (if I may be allowed to speak fo) to the most distant pofter. ity, and these ideas, all defective, and all defiled as they are, procure their authors immortal repu. tatronn. On this principle, what respect, what veneration, what deference ought we to have for the patriarchs and the prophets, for the evangel
ists and the apostles, who spoke of God in fo fublime a manner ! However, be not surprised at their fuperiority over the great pagan geniuses ; had the biblical writers, like then, been guided only by human reason, like them they would have wandered too. If they spoke fo nobly of God, it was because they had received that spirit who searcbeth all things, yea the deep thing's of God, I Cor. ii. 10. It was because all scripture was given by inspiration, 2 Tim. iii. 16. It was because the prophecy came not in old time by the . will of man, but boly men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Gbost, 2 Pet. i. 2.1.
3. Make a third reflection. · This attribute of God removes the greatest stumbling-blocks that sceptics and infidels pretend to meet with in religion. It justifies all those dark mysteries which are above the comprehension of our feeble reason. We would not make use of this reflection to open a way for human fancies, and to authorize every thing that is presented to us under the idea of the marvellous. All doctrines that are incoin. prehensible are not divine, nor ought we to embrace any opinion, inerely because it is beyond our knowledge. But when a religion, in other refpects, hath good guarantees, whers we have good arguments to prove that such a revelation comes from heaven, when we certainly know that it is God who speaks, . ough: we to be surprised, if ideas of God, which come fo fully authenticated, absorb and confound as ? I freely grant; that, had I consulted my owo reason only, I could not have discovered some mysteries of the gospel. Nevertheless, when I think on the immensity of God, when I cast my eyes on thai vast ocean, when I consider that immense all, nothing astopishes me, nothing stumbles me, nothing seems to me inadmissible, how incomprehensible foever it may be. When the subject is divine, I am ready to believe all, to admit all, to receive all ; pro
vided I be convinced that it is God himself who speaks to me, or any one on his part. After this, I am no inore astonished that there are three dir. tinct persons in one divine essence ; one God, and yet a Father, a Song and a Holy Ghost. After this, I am no more astonished that God foresees all without forcing any ; permits fin without forcing the finner ; ordains free and intelligent creatures to such and such ends, yet without deIroying their intelligence or their liberty. Af. ter this, I am no inore astonished that the justice of God required a satisfaction proportional to his greatness, that his own love hath provided that fatisfaction, and that God, from the abundance of his compassion, designed the mystery of an incarnate God; a mystery which angels admire while !ceptics oppose ; a mystery which absorbs human reason, but which fills all heaven with songs of praife ; a mystery which is the great mystery, by excellence, 1 Tim. iii. 16. but the greatness of which nothing should make us reject, fance religion proposeth it as the grand effort of the wisdom of the incomprehenfible God, and commandeth us to receive it on the testimony of: the incomprehensible God himlelf. Either reli, gion must tell us nothirg about God, or what it tells us must be beyond our capacities, and, is discovering even the borders of this inimenfe. ocean, it must needs exbibit a vast extent in which our feeble eyes are lost. But what fur. prises me, what stumbles me, what frightens me, is to see a diminutive creature, a contemptible man, a little ray of light glimmering through a few feeble organs, controvert a point with the Supreme Being; oppose that Intelligence who fitteth at the helm of the world ; : question what he affirms, dispute what he determines, appeal from his decisions, and, even after God hath given evidence, reject all doctrines that are beyond his capacity. Egter into thy nothingness, - mortal.
creature. What madness animates thee? How darest thou pretend, thou who art but a point, thou whose essence is but an atom, to measure thyself with the Supreme Being, with him who fills heaven and earth, with him whom beaveng'. Ibe beaven of beavens cannot contain? | Kings, viii. 27. "Canst thou by searching find out' God? Canlt thou find out the Almighty to perfection ? High as heaven, what canīt thou do? deeper than hell, what canst thou know?” Job xi. 7." He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing. He bindeth up the waters in his thick, clouds, the pillars of heaven tremble, and are af. tonished at his reproof : Lo these are parts of his ways, but how little a portion is heard of him ? but the thunder of his power who can undera stand ?' Gird up now thy loins like a man ; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou ine. Where wast'thou when Flaid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding," ch. xxvi. 7, 11, 14. . " Who hath laid the meafe ures thereof? who hath' stretched the line upon it ? whereupon are the foundations thereof fanta ened? who laid the corner.stone thereof, wher the morning stars sang together, and all the fons of God shouted for joy? Who shut up the sea with doors, when I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddling band for it? when I brake up for it my decreed place, and fet bars and doors, and said, Hitherto shalt thou come and no further : and here shall thy proud waves be stayed ?” ch. xxxviii. 1, 2, 3, &c.
" He that reproveth God, let him answer this,” ch. xl.
“ O Lord, fuch knowledge is too wonderful for me ; it is too high, I cannot attain unto it!"
4. But, my brethren, shall these be the only inferences from our text ? mall we reap onl fpeculations from this dilcourse ? fhall we only believe, admire, and exclaim? Ah ! from this
idea of God, I see all the virtues issue wbich religion prescribes?
If such be the grandeur of the God I adore, miserable wretch! what ought my repentance to be! I, a contemptible worm, I, a whoin God could tread beneath his feet, and crush into dust by a single act of his will, I have rebelled against the great God, I have endeavoured to provoke bim to jealousy, as if I had been stronger than he, i Cor. x. 22. I have insulted that Majesty which the angels of heaven adore ; I have attacked God, with madness and boldness, on his throne, and in his empire. Is it possible to feel. remorses too cutting for fins which the majesty of the offended, and the littleness of the offender, make so very atrocious"?
If such be the grandeur of God, what should our bumility be! Grandees of the world, mortal divinities, who swell with vanity in the presence of God, oppose yourselves to the immense God. Behold his eternal ideas, his infinite knowledge, his general influence, his universal direction ; enter his immense ocean of perfections and virtues, what are ye? a grain of dust, a point, an atom, a nothing.
If such be the grandeur of God, what ought our confidence to be! “ If God be for us, who can be against us?” Rom. viii. 31.
Poor creature, tossed about the world, as by so many winds, by hunger, by sickness, by perfecution, by misery, by nakedness, by exile ; fear not in a vessel of which God himself is the pilot.
But above all, if such be the grandeur of God, if God be every where present, what fhould our vigilance be'! and, to return to the idea with whichwe began, what impression fhould this thought make on reasonable souls ! God seeth
Wben tbou wast under the fig-tree, said Jesus Christ to Nathaniel, I saw thee, John i. 48. See Ecclef. iii. 23, 24, 25.
We do not know