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within me would have led me to it, if Pliny, who is one of them, had not given me a rule; “ It is ingenuous to confess our benefactors.” It appears also but a piece of justice, that the names of those whom the great God has distinguished, by em. ploying them to make those discoveries, which are here collected, should live and shine in every such collection. Among these, let it be known, that there are especially two, to whom I have been more indebted, than to many others; the industrious Mr. Ray, and the inquisitive Mr. Derham, upon whom, in divers paragraphs of this rhapsody, I have had very much of my subsistence, and I give thanks to Heaven for them.
It is true, some scores of other philosophers have been consulted on this occasion ; but an industry so applied, has in it very little to bespeak any praises for him that has used it; he earnestly renounces them, and solicits, that not only he, but the greater men, who have been his teachers, may disappear before the glorious God, whom these essays are all written to represent as worthy to be praised, and by whose grace we are what we are ; nor have we any thing but what we have received from him.
A considerable body of men (if the Jansenists may now be thought so) in France, have learnt of Mr. Pascal, to denote themselves by the French impersonal particle on; and it was his opinion, that an honest man should not be fond of naming himself, or of using the word I, and me ; that christian piety will annihilate our I, and me, and human civility will suppress it, and conceal it.
Most certainly there can be very little pretence to an I, or me, for what is done in these essays.
It is done, and entirely, by the help of God: this is all that can be pretended to.
There is very little, that may be said, really to be performed by the hand that is now writing; but only the devotional part of these essays, though they are not altogether destitute of American communications: and if the virtuosos, and all the genuine philosophers of our age, have approved the design of the devout Ray and Derham, and others, in their treatises; it cannot be distasteful to them, to see what was more generally hinted at by those excellent persons, here more particularly carried on, and the more special flights of the true philosophical religion exemplified. Nor will they that value the essays of the memorable ancients, Theodoret, Nazianzen, and Ambrose, upon the works of the Six Days, count it a fault, if among lesser men in our days, there be found those who say, let me run after them. I remember, when we read, “praise is comely for the upright, it is urged by Kimchi, that the word which we render comely, signifies desirable, and acceptable ; and the sense of that sentence is, that the righteous desire nothing more than the praise and glory of God. Sure I am, such essays as these, to observe, and proclaim, and publish the praises of the glorious God, will be desirable and acceptable to all that have a right spirit in them; the rest, who are blinded, are fools and as little to be regarded as a monkey flourishing a broomstick ! The worst, that can be wished them, is that they may reap the fruits of their own folly. For such centaurs to be found in the tents of professed christianity !-good God, unto what times hast thou reserved us! If the self-tauglit philosopher
will not, yet Abubeker, a Mahometan writer, by whom such an one was exhibited more than five hundred years ago, will “rise up in the judgment with this generation, and condemn it.” Reader, even a Mahometan will shew thee one, without any teacher, but reason in a serious view of nature, led on to the acknowledgment of a glorious God. Of a man, supposed as but using his rational faculties in viewing the works of God, even the Mahometan will tell thee; “ There appeared unto him those footsteps of wisdom and wonders in the works of creation, which affected his mind with an excessive admiration ; and he became hereby assured, that all these things must proceed from such a voluntary agent as was infinitely perfect, yea, above all perfection ; such an one to whom the weight of the least atom was not unknown, whether in heaven or earth. Upon his viewing of the creatures, whatever excellency he found of any kind, he concluded, it must needs proceed. from the influence of that voluntary agent, so il-. lustriously glorious, the Fountain of being, and of working. He knew therefore, that whatever excellencies were by nature in him, were by so much the greater, the more perfect, and the more lasting; and that there was no proportion between those excellencies which were in Him, and those which were found in the creatures. He discerned also, by the virtue of that more noble part of his, whereby he knew the necessarily existent Being, that there was in him a certain resemblance thereof : and he saw, that it was his duty to labour by: all manner of means, how he might obtain the properties of that Being, put on his qualities, and imitate his actions; to be diligent and careful also
in promoting his will; to commit all his affairs unto him, and heartily to acquiesce in all those decrees of his which concerned him, either from within, or from without: so that he pleased himself in Him, though he should afflict him, and even destroy him.” I was going to say, O, the precious words of a golden mind! But the great Alsted instructs me, that we Christians, in our valuable citations from them that are strangers to Christianity, should seize upon the sentences as containing our truths, detained in the hands of unjust possessors; and he allows me to say, hear Cicero, whom nature taught. However, this I may say, God has thus far taught a Mahometan! And this I will say, Christian,
beware lest a Mahometan be called in for thy condemnation !
Let us conclude with a remark of Minutius Fælix: “ If so much wisdom and penetration be requisite to observe the wonderful order and design in the structure of the world, how much more were necessary to form it!" If men so much admire philosophers, because they discover a small part of the wisdom that made all things ; they must be totally blind, who do not admire that Wisdom itself!
Remember that thou magnify His work, which men behold.
JOB xxxvi, 24. THE works of the glorious God in the creation of the world, are what I now propose to exhibit; in brief essays to enumerate some of them, that he may be glorified in them; and indeed my essays may pretend to no more than some of them; for, Theophilus, writing of the creation, to his friend Antolycus, might very justly say, that if he should have a thousand tongues, and live a thousand years, yet he were not able to descri the admirable order of the creation, such a transcendent greatness of God, and the riches of his wisdom appearing in it !
Chrysostoin, I remember, mentions a twofold book of God; the book of the creatures, and the book of the Scriptures: God having taught us first of all by his works, did it afterwards by his words. We will now for a while read the former of these books, it will help us in reading the latter : they will admirably assist one another. The philosopher being asked, what his books were; answered, the books of nature. All men are accommodated with that public library. Reader, walk with me into it, and see what we shall find so legible there, “that he that runs may read it.” Behold, a book, whereof we may agreeably enough use the words of honest Agardus;
" This book may be read by ail, although they may never have learned to read; it is accessible to all; it is exposed to the eyes of all.”