Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

being and its operation to the grace and ornament, to the strength and stability of the whole; one soul (of Divine providence) enlivening in a manner, and actuating it all? Survey it all over, and we shall have reason to say with the philosopher; ' All the parts of the world are so constituted, that they could not be either better for use, nor more beautiful for show.'* In it we shall espy nothing in substance superfluous or defective ; nothing in shape deformed, in position misplaced, in motion exorbitant, so as to prejudice the beauty or welfare of the whole. We may perhaps not discern the use of each part, or the tendency of each particular effect; but of many they are so plain and palpable, that reason obliges us to suppose the like of the rest.

Even as a person

whom we observe frequently to act with great consideration and prudence, when at other times we cannot penetrate the drift of his proceedings, we must yet imagine that he hath ome latent reason, some reach of policy, that we are not aware of; or, as in an engine consisting of many parts, curiously combined, whereof we do perceive the general use, and apprehend how divers parts thereof conduce thereto, reason prompts us (although we neither see them all, nor can comprehend the immediate serviceableness of some) to think they are all in some way or other subservient to the artist's design : such an agent is God, the wisdom of whose proceedings being in so many instances notorious, we ought to suppose it answerable in the rest; such an engine is this world, of which we may easily enough discern the general end, and how many of its parts do conduce thereto; and cannot therefore in reason but suppose the rest in their kind alike congruous, and conducible to the same purpose : our incapacity to discover all doth not argue any defect, but an excess of wisdom in the design thereof; not too little perfection in the work, but too great an one rather, in respect to our capacity: however, we plainly see the result of all to be the durable continuance of things, without interruption or change, in the same constant uniform state; which shows that in the world there is no seed of corruption, as it were; no inclination to dissolution or decay; nothing that tends to the

* Cic. de Nat. Deor. ii. 34.

discomposure or destruction of the whole : each ingredient thereof (of those so unconceivably numerous) consists within its proper limits; not incroaching immoderately on, not devouring or disturbing another in its course ; contrary qualities therein serving to a due temperament, opposite inclinations begetting a just poise, particular vicissitudes conferring to a general settlement; private deaths and corruptions maintaining the public life and health, producing a kind of youthful vigor in the whole: so that six thousand years together hath this great machine stood, always one and the same, unimpaired in its beauty, unworn in its parts, unwearied and undisturbed in its motions. If then, as Plutarch says, 'no fair thing is ever produced by hazard, but with art framing it ;'* how could this most fair comprehension of all fair things be not the lawful issue of art, but a by-blow of fortune; of fortune, the mother only of broods monstrous and misshapen ? +If the nature of any cause be discoverable by its effects; if from any work we may infer the workman's ability; if in any case the results of wisdom are distinguishable from the consequences of chance, we have reason to believe that the Architect of this magnificent and beautiful frame was one incomprehensibly wise, powerful, and good Being; and to conclude with Cicero, Esse præstantem aliquam æternamque naturam, et eam suspiciendam, adorandamque hominum generi pulchritudo mundi, ordoque rerum cælestium cogit confiteri ; the sense of which saying we cannot better render or express, than in St. Paul's words, “The invisible things of God by the making (or rather by the make and constitution) of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead;' so that, I adjoin after him, “they are inexcusable, who from bence do not know God;' or knowing him do not render unto him his due glory and service.

Plut. de Plac. i. 6.

+ Cic. de Nat. Deor. ii. 37.

SUMMARY OF SERMON VII.

GENESIS, CHAP. 1.-VERSE 27.

The belief of God's existence is the foundation of all religion : hence the usefulness of such discourses as tend to establish that foundation by convincing arguments: this topic enlarged on.

Subject of the present discourse, the consideration of man, both as taken .singly, and in conjunction with the rest of his kind.

I. We may consider any one single man, who consists of two parts, the one external or material, the other, that interior invisible principle of operations peculiarly called human : the former has been, as it were, discussed : the latter is now chiefly taken into consideration ; and in this express signs of the Creator may be discovered.

1. And first, that man's nature did proceed from some efficient cause, it will (as of other things in nature) be reasonable to suppose ; for if not so, it must either have sprung up of itself, so that at some time, or from all eternity, some one man, or some number of men did of themselves exist; or there hath been a succession, without beginning, of continual generations, &c.: both these suppositions shown to be absurd.

2. It could not come from any sensible or material cause, nor from any complication of such causes; for the properties, powers, and operations of man's soul are wholly different from in kind, highly elevated in worth, above all the properties, powers, and operations of things corporeal, however framed or tempered : this topic enlarged on.

3. We are not only God's works, but his children; our souls bearing in their countenance and complexion various express features of him; especially as they were made at first, and as by improvement they may again become : this fully shown.

II. Thus doth human nature, being in each singular man, show the existence of God, as its original author. Considering also men as related and combined together in society, some glimpse of Divine power and wisdom, ordering them towards it, and preserving them in it, may be perceived.

As in the natural world, the parts thereof are fitted with admirable propriety, in varieties of size, of quality, of aptitude to motion, &c.; so in the world political we may observe various propensities and aptitudes, disposing men to combine together and co-operate in society; all things being so ordered, that even contrarieties of humor serve to settle them in their due place and posture, &c. And since it is plainly best for man thus to live in society, the fact that he is so disposed and suited thereto, is an argument of mighty wisdom and goodness in that cause from whence all this proceeded; and such a cause is God. The same also may be reasonably deduced from the care and preservation of society; for though man be inclined to and fitted for it, yet being a free agent, no ordinary banks will constantly restrain him in due place and order; so that the course of affairs, perverted by some men's irregular passions, would run into confusion, without a wise and provident superintendence: this topic enlarged on. Conclusion.

[ocr errors]

I Believe in God,

SERMON VII.

THE BEING OF GOD PROVED FROM THE

FRAME OF HUMAN NATURE.

GENESIS, CHAP. 1.- VERSE 27.

So God created man in his own image; in the image of God created

he him.

If the belief of God's existence, which is the foundation of all religion, be not well laid in our minds by convincing reasons, the superstructures standing thereon may easily be in danger of being shaken and ruined ; especially being assailed by the winds of temptation and opposition, which every where blow so violently in this irreligious age. No discourses therefore can perhaps be more needful, (or seasonably useful,) than such as do produce and urge reasons of that kind, apt to establish that foundation. Of such there be, I conceive, none better, or more suitable to common capacity, than those which are drawn from effects apparent to men's general observation and experience, the which cannot reasonably be ascribed to any other cause than unto God; that is, (according to the notion commonly answering to that name,) to a Being incomprehensibly wise, powerful, and good. Of such effects there be innumerably many in this sensible world, among things natural, more strictly so called, that is, subsisting and acting without immediate use of understanding or choice; the consti

« AnteriorContinuar »