Page images
PDF
EPUB

evidence of natural religion wholly overlooked by those who enjoyed more direct and spiritual communication with the LORD OF Hosts. The writings of the Jewish Canon abound in sublime descriptions of Jehovah as the Author and Preserver of all things that exist. David, a man of unquestioned piety, though stained with foul and most offensive crimes (crimes ever deeply to be lamented, as affording such plausible ground for cavil and censure to the adversaries of revelation)—David, whose heart, in its happiest moments, was soon awakened to devout affections, forcibly illustrates, in several beautiful psalms, the perfections of God, as exhibited in the works of creation. He contemplates the host of Heaven, --the sun, issuing forth from his chamber in the east, rejoicing to run his splendid race through the wide circuit of the skies; the moon, walking in milder brightness; and the clustering stars, bespangling the vault of night : these dazzling glories of the firmament lead the royal prophet to the plastic hand that formed them, and amply suffice to shew him the FATHER,—the Father and Lord of Heaven; and he exclaims, in the fervour of devotion, “Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge,"—the knowledge of the majesty and dominion of God. When he turns his eyes downward on the earth, he is equally struck with the conviction of the attributes of the Deity, manifested in the mighty elements, and in the multiform productions and varied operations of nature : -- the encircling waters of the vast deep, investing, as with a garment, so considerable a portion of the globe ; and though, when agitated by the storm, raging with irresistible fury, yet never passing their allotted bounds; the plenteous provision made for men and animals; the exact adaptation of the several parts of the great system to the numberless wants of that infinite variety of creatures, that tread the ground, wing through the air, or cleave the floods; the regular recurrence of day and night, the seasons of alternate labour and rest. All these wise constitutions and appointments the Psalmist refers, as will every rational and reflecting mind, to the silent energy and unceasing influence of that all-ruling Spirit, that unseen Father, who assigned properties, and prescribed laws, to inert and motionless matter, infused animation and instinct into the brute tenants of the forest, and conferred on man intelligence, freedom of mind, and a living soul;

[ocr errors]

un

putting “ all things in subjection under his feet.” “ O Lord, how manifold are thy works !-in wisdom hast Thou made them all—the earth is full of thy riches ! So is the great and wide sea also, wherein are things creeping innumerable!"

Wilful insensibility to these multiplied and perpetual proofs of the existence and perfections of one Supreme Lord constituted the guilt with which St. Paul upbraids the Gentile world. “ His eternal power” and invisible “ Godhead" might have been “ clearly seen” and fully derstood by the things that are made :" but through vanity of mind, and licentiousness of manners, “ their foolish heart was darkened," and “ as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge,” they were abandoned to the idolatry of a besotted imagination, and the depravity of a corrupted heart.

Read then, and learn, in the sublime volume of Nature, as well as in the sacred volume of Grace, the unlimited power, the perfect wisdom, the inexhaustible goodness, of that FATHER, the God of the spirits of all flesh, whose presence no mortal can approach, whose mode of existence no human intellect can comprehend, whose

form no living thing can discern,—"save He which is of God;" for “ He," and He only, hath seen the Father.Say not to his priests or to his prophets, say not to the stewards of his mysteries, show us the Father.” Behold Him in every image that strikes the eye ; hear Him in every sound that vibrates on the ear; “ feel after Him, and find Him,” in every object of every sense.

He lives and moves, He speaks and acts, throughout the boundless Universe : He walks the wide circumference of Earth; He traverses the unfathomed depths of Ocean; He fills the immeasurable vault of Heaven. - No nook so narrow as to exclude Him,-no space so vast as to contain Him.

“ All thy works praise Thee, O Lord !”They show us the Father!” Then let “ thy saints give thanks unto Thee!" But how shall we praise the Creator as we ought ? Language is too poor and meagre to clothe our conceptions; our conceptions are too crude and contracted to shadow out the faintest resemblance of His majesty. And, if no terms can be found to express the noble acts of the Lord” in the formation and preservation of the world, how “ shall we show forth all his praise ?" How

If our

shall imagination paint his inestimable love in its redemption ?-redemption by the humiliation and death of that mysterious “ Word, who was, in the beginning, with God ?hearts are excited to awful admiration, and warmed to filial gratitude, by the contemplation of the wonders of creation, and the blessings of this life, what emotions should be kindled within us by the bright prospect, the glowing hope, the confirmed assurance, of a resurrection unto life eternal-an inheritance undefiled, and that fadeth not away, through the Son of the LIVING GOD !-Alas! we are utterly incompetent to the great, the noble work: we have not the means, the faculties, the affections ; — words, ideas, sensations, fail us. Yet, though we cannot praise the FATHER worthily with our lips, let us daily strive to praise Him acceptably in our lives.

Weak and unprofitable though we are, let us devote ourselves solely to his service, and walk before Him in righteousness and holiness, diligently performing our allotted task, while passing through this school of discipline and instruction, in which, though so little is to be learned to perfection, much difficulty is to be combated, and much evil subdued; “ till

« PreviousContinue »