« PreviousContinue »
us to frame any 'adequate conceptions of it. .'
In'the first revelation which he 'makes of his own Being, he entitles himself, I am that I am; and when Mofes desires to know what Name he fhall give him in his einbaffy to Pharaoh, he bids him fay that I am hach fenc you.' Our great Creator, by this revelation of himself, does in a manner exclude everything else from a real Existence, and distinguishes himself from his creatures, as the only Being which truly and really exists. The ancient Platonick notion, which was drawn from speculations of eternity, wonderfully agrees with this revelation which God has made of himself. There is nd. thing, fay they, which in reality exists, whose Existence, as 'we call it, is pieced up of paft, present and to come. Such a flitting and fuccefsive Exiftence is 'Tather 'a Thadow of Existence, and fomething which is like it, than Existence it felf. He only properly exists whose Existence'is incitely present; that is, in other words, who exifts in the most per'feet manner, and in such a manner, as we have no idea of.
I shall conclude this fpeculation with one useful inference.' How can we fuffi.
thing. He only. Rely preits in the
ciently prostrate our selves and fall down before our Maker, when we consider that ineffable goodness and wisdom which contrived this Existence for finite natures? What must be the overflowings of that good-will, which prompted our Creator to adapt Existence to Beings, in whom it is not necessary ? Especially when we consider that he himself was before in the complete possession of Existence and of Happiness, and in the full enjoyment of Eternity. What Man can think of himself as called out and separated from nothing, of his being made a conscious, -a reasonable and a happy creature, in
short, of being taken in as a sharer of his Existence and a kind of partner in Eternity, without being swallowed upin wonder, in praise, in adoration! It is indeed a thought too big for the mind of -man, and rather to be entertained in the -secrecy of devotion, and in the silence of the soul, than to be expressed by words. The Supreme Being has not given us powers or faculties sufficient to extol and magnify such unutterable goodness.
It is howeyer some comfort to us, that we shall be always doing what we shall be never able to do, and that a work which cannot be finished, -will however be the work of an Eternity. .
SECT. II. The Power and Wisdom of GOD in
Inde hominum pecudumque genus, vitaque volantum, Et que marmoreo fert monfira fub æquore pontus.
THOUGH there is a great deal
of pleasure in contemplating the
material world, by which I mean that syftem of bodies into which Nature has so curiously wrought the mass of dead matter, with the several relations which those bodies bear to one another; there is still, methinks, something more wonderful and surprizing in contemplations on the world of life, by which I mean all those animals with which eve-, ry part of the universe is furnished. The material world is only the shell of the universe : The world of Life are its in-, habitants.
If we consider those parts of the ma terial world which lie the nearest to us, and are therefore subject to our observations and enquiries, it is amazing to consider the infinity of animals with which it is stocked. Every part of matter is peopled: Every green leaf swarms with
Inhabitants. There is fcarce a single hu. ·mour in the body of a man, or of any other animal, in which our glasses do not discover myriads of living creatures. The surface of animals is also covered with other animals, which are in the same manner the basis of other animals, that live upon it; nay, we find in the most folid bodies, as in marble itself, innumerable cells and cayities that are crouded with such imperceptible inhabitants, as are too little for the naked eye to discover. On the other hand, if we look in. to the more bulky parts of nature, we fee the feas, lakes and rivers teeming with numberless kinds of living creatures: We find every mountain and marsh, wilderness and wood, plentifully stocked with birds and beasts, and every part of matter affording proper necessaries and conveniencies for the livelihood of multitudes which inhabit it.
The The author of the Plurality of Worlds draws a very good argument from this consideration, for the Peopling of every planet; as indeed it seems very probable from the analogy of reason, that if no part of matter, which we are acquainted with, lies waste and useless, those great bodies which are at such a distance from us should not be desart and unpeopled, but rather that they should be furnished with Beings adapted to their respective situations.
Existence is a blessing to those Beings only which are endowed with perception, and is in a manner thrown away upon dead matter, any further than as it is sub, servient to Beings which are conscious of their Existence. Accordingly we find, from the bodies which lie under our observacion, that matter is only made as the basis and support of animals, and that there is no more of the one, than what is necessary for the Existence of the on ther. · Infinite Goodness is of so communi. cative a nature, that it seems to delight in the conferring of Existence upon every degree of perceptive Being. As this is a speculation, which I have often pur