« EdellinenJatka »
thing we see, and every thing that exists. Reality is not sufficient, fancy must be indulged; real existences are too indigent, possible beings must be imagined; and we presently quit the real to range through the ideal world. Hence come poetical fictions and fabulous narrations; and hence marvellous adventures, and romantic enchantments. A man is, assuredly, an object of great pity, when he pleaseth himself with such fantastic notions. But, the principle, that occasioned these fictions, ought to render the mind of man respectable: it is the very principle, which we have mentioned. It is because the idea, that the mind of man hath of the grand and the marvellous, finds nothing to impede, nothing to limit, nothing to equal it. The most able architect cannot fully gratify this idea, although he employ his genius, his materials, and his artists, to erect a superb and regular edifice in a few years. All this is far below the notion we have of the grand and the marvellous. Our mind imagines an enchanter, who, uniting in an instant, all the secrets of art, and all the wonders of nature, by a single word of his mouth, or by a single act of his will, produceth a house, a palace, or a city. The most able mechanic cannot fully gratify this idea, although with a marvellous industry he build a vessel, which, resisting wind and waves, passeth from the east to the west, and discovereth new worlds, which nature seemed to have forbidden us to approach, by the immense spaces it had placed between us. Our mind fancies an enchantment, which giving to a body naturally ponderous the levity of air, the activity of fire, the agility of flame, or of ethereal matter, passeth the most immeasurable spaces with a rapidity swifter than that of lightning. It is God, it is God alone, my brethren, who is the original of these ideas. God
only possesseth that which gratifies and absorbs our idea of the grand and the marvellous. The extra
things, but in the misapplication of them. Must an edifice be formed by a single act of the will? In God we find the reality of this idea. He forms, not only a palace, a city, or a kingdom : but a whole world by a single act of his will; because his will is always efficient, and always produceth its effect. God said, Let there be light, and there was light, Gen. i. 3. He spake and it was done : He commanded and it stood fast, Psal. xxxiii. 9. Must the immense distances of the world be passed in an instant ? In God we find the reality of this idea. What am I saying? we find more than this in God. He doth not pass through the spaces that separate the heavens from the earth, he fills them with the immensity of his essence. Will God indeed dwell on the earth ? Behold, the heaven, and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee! i Kings vjji. 27. Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool : where is the house that ye build unto me? And where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand niade, saith the Lord, Isa. lxvi. 1. 2.
Were it necessary to prove that this idea is not a freak of our fancy, but that it ariseth from an original which really exists: I would divide, the better to prove my proposition, my opponents into into two classes. The first should consist of those, who already admit the existence of a perfect Being: To them I could easily prove that efficiency of will is a perfection, and that we cannot conceive a being perfect, who doth not possess this perfection. It is essential to the perfection of a Being, that we should be able to say of him, Who hath resisted his will ? Rom. ix. 19. Could any
other being resist his will, that being would be free from his dominion: and would subsist, not only independently on him, but even in spite of him : and then we could conceive a being more perfect than him, that is, a being from whose dominion nothing could free itself.
In the second class I would place those who deny the existence of a Supreme Being; and to them I would prove that the existence of beings, who have a derived efficiency of will, proves the existence of a Being whose will is self-efficient. Whence have finite beings derived that limited efficiency, which they possess, if not from a self-efficient Being, who hath distributed portions of efficiency among subordinate beings?
But it is less needful to prove that there is a Being who hath such a perfection ; than it is to prove, that he who possesseth it merits, and alone merits, such a fear as we have described : that he deserves, and that he alone deserves to be considered as having, our felicity, and our misery in his power. Who would not fear thee, O king of nations to thee doth it not appertain ?. And who would not consider thee as the only object of this fear? To whom beside doth it appertain? The efficiency of a creature's will proceeds from thee, and as it proceeds from thee alone, by thee alone does it subsist: one act of thy will gave it existence, and one act of thy will can take that existence away! The most formi-' dable creatures are only terriblethrough the exercise of a small portion of efficiency derived from thee; thou art the source, the soul of all ! Pronounce the sentence of my misery, and I shall be miserable : pronounce that of my felicity, and I shall be happy : nor shall any thing be able to disconcert a happiness, that is maintained by an efficient will, which is superior to all opposition : before which all is no
thing, or rather, which is itself all in all, because its efficiency communicates to all? Who would not fear thee, o king of nations ? Doth not fear appertain to thee alone ?
Perhaps the proving of a self-efficient will may be more than is necessary to the exhibiting of an object of human fear. · Must such a grand spring move to destroy such a contemptible creature as man : He is only a vapor, a particle of air is sufficient to dissipate it : he is only a flower, a blast of wind is sufficient to make it fade. This is undeniable in regard to the material and visible man, in which we too often place all our glory. It is not only, then, to the infinite God, it is not only to him whose will is self-efficient, that man owes the homage of fear : it may be said that he owes it, in a sense, to all those creatures, to which Providence hath given a presidency over his happiness or his misery. He ought not only to say ; Who would not fear thee, O king of nations ? for to thee doth it appertain ! But he ought also to say, Who would not fear thee, O particle of air? Who would not fear thee, O blast of wind ? Who would not fear - thee, O crushing of a moth ? Job. iv. 19. Because there needs only a particle of air, there needs only a puff of wind, there needs only the crushing of a moth, to subvert his happiness, and to destroy his life. But you would entertain very different notions of human happiness and misery, were you to consider man in a nobler light; and to attend to our second notion of God, as an object of fear.
Who would not fear thee, O King of nations ? For to thee doth
II. C OD is the only Being who hath a supreme
U dominion over the operations of a spiritual and immortal soul. The discussion of this article would lead us into observations too abstract for this place; and therefore we make it a law to abridge our reflections. We must beg leave to remark, however, that we ought to think so highly of the nature of man as to admit this principle : God alone is able to exercise an absolute dominion over a spiritual and immortal soul. From this principle we .conclude, that God alone hath the happiness and misery of man in his power. God alone merits the supreme homage of fear. God alone, not only in opposition to all the imaginary gods of paganism, but also in opposition to every being that really exists, is worthy of this part of the adoration of a spiritual and immortal creature. Who would not fear thee, O King of nations ?
Weigh the emphatical words, which we just now quoted, Who art thou, that thou shouldst be afraid of a man that shall die? Who art thou, immaterial spirit, that thou shouldst be afraid of a man? Who