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jects, fixeth his attention on the attributes of God, feels the force of those proofs which establish the truth of them, is delighted with them, to a certain degree, and is happy in publishing their praise. I mean, by a particular notion of praising God, the exercise of a man, who, having received some signal favor of God, loves to express his gratitude for it.
Each of these exercises of praise supposeth reflections, and sentiments. To praise God in the first sense, to reflect on his attributes, to converse, and to write about them, without having the heart affected, and without loving a Being, who is described as supremely amiable, is a lifeless praise, more fit for a worldly philosopher than for a rational christian. To praise God in the second sense, to be affected with the favors of God, without having any distinct notions of God, without knowing whether the descriptions of the perfections, that are attributed to him, be flights of fancy or real truths, is an exercise more fit for a bigot, who believes without knowing why, than for a spiritual man, zoho judgeth all things, I Cor. ij. 15. If we distinguish the part, which these two faculties, reflection, and sentiment, take in these two exercises of praise, we may observe that the first, I mean, the praise of God taken in a general sense, is the fruit of reflection, and the second of sentiment. The first is, if I may be allowed to speak so, the praise of the mind : the second is the praise of the heart.
It is difficult to determine which of these two notions prevails in the text, whether the psalmist use the word praise in the first, or in the second sense. If we judge by the whole subject of the psalm both are included. The praise of the heart is easily discovered. Whether the author of the psalm were Hezekiah, as many of the fathers
thought, who say, this prince composed it after the miraculous defeat of Sennacherib : or whether, which is most likely, David were the composer of it, after one of those preternatural deliverances, with which his life was so often signalized : what I call the praise of the heart, that is, a lively sense of some inestimable blessing, is clearly to be seen. On the other hand, it is still clearer, that the sacred author doth not celebrate only one particular object in the psalm. He gives a greater scope to his meditation, and compriseth in it all the works, and all the perfections of God.
Although the solemnity of this day calls us less to the praise of the mind, than to that of the heart; although we intend to make the latter the principal subject of this discourse; yet it is necessary to attend a little to the former.
I. The praise of the Lord, taking the word praise in the vague sense, that we have affixed to the term, is comely for the upright: and it is comely for none but for them.
Praise is comely for the upright. Nothing is more worthy of the attention of an intelligent being, particularly, nothing is more worthy of the imitation of a superior genius, than the wonderful perfections of the Creator. A man of superior genius is required, indeed, to use his talents to cultivate the sciences and the liberal arts: but after all, the mind of man, especially of that man to whom God hath given superior talents, which assimilate him to celestial intelligences, was not created to unravel a point in chronology, to learn the various sounds by which different nations signiíy their ideas, to measure a line, or to lose itself in an algebraic calculation; the mind of such a man was not created to study the stars, to count their number, to measure their magnitude, to discover more
than have yet been observed. Nobler objects ought to occupy him. It becomes such a man to contemplate God, to guide the rest of mankind, to lead them to God, who dwelleth in the light, which no man can approach unto, 1 Tim. vi. 16. and to teach us to attenuate the clouds, that hide him from our feeble eyes. It becomes such a man to use that superiority, which his knowledge gives him over us, to elevate our hearts above the low region of terrestrial things, where they grovel with the brute beasts, and to help us to place them on the bright abode of the immortal God. The praise of the Lord is comely for upright men.
But praise is comely only for upright men. I believe it is needless now to explain the word uprightness. The term is taken in the text in the noblest sense: this is a sufficient explication, and this is sufficient also to convince us that the praising of God is comely for none but upright men. I cannot see, without indignation, a philosopher trifle with the important questions that relate to the attributes of God, and make them simple exercises of genius, in which the heart hath no concern, examining whether there be a God with the same indifference with which he inquires whether there be a vacuum in nature, or whether matter be infinitely divisible. On determining the questions which relate to the divine attributes, depend our hopes and fears, the plans we must form, and the course of life we ought to pursue: and with these views we should examine the perfections of God: these are consequences that should follow our enquiries. With such dispositions the psalmist celebrated the praises of God, in the psalm out of which we have taken the text. How comely are the praises of God in the mouth of such a man!
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ditation. His psalm is not composed in scholastic form, in which the author confines himself to fixed rules, and scrupulously following a philosophical method, lays down principles, and infers consequences. However, he establisheth principles the most proper to give us sublime ideas of the Creator; and he speaks with more precision of the works and attributes of God than the greatest philosophers have spoken them.
How absurdly have philosophers treated of the origin of the world? How few of them have reasoned conclusively on this important subject ? Our prophet solves the important question by one single principle, and what is more remarkable, this principle, which is nobly expressed, carries the clearest evidence with it. The principle is this : By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. This is the most rational account that was ever given of the world. The world is the work of a selfefficient will, and it is this principle alone that can account for its creation. The most simple appearances in nature are sufficient to lead us to this principle. Either my will is self-efficient, or there is some other being whose will is self-efficient.
What I say of myself, I say of my parents, and what I affirm of my parents, I affirm of my more remote ancestors, and of all the finite creatures from whom they derived their existence. Most certainly, either finite beings have self-efficient wills, which it is impossible to suppose, for a finite creature with a self-efficient will is a contradiction : either, I say, a finite creature hath a self-efficient will; or there is a first cause who hath a self-efficient will ; and that there is such a being is the principle of the psalmist : By the word of the Lord were the
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heavens made : and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.
If philosophers have reasoned inconclusively on the origin of the world, they have spoken of its government with equal uncertainty. The psalmist determines this question with great facility, by a single principle, which results from the former, and which, like the former, carries its evidence with it. The Lord looketh from heaven: he considereth all the works of all the inhabitants of the earth, ver. 13, 14. This is the doctrine of Providence. And on what is the doctrine of Providence founded ? On this principle : God fashioneth their hearts alike, ver. 15. Attend a moment to the evidence of this reasoning, my brethren. The doctrine of Providence, expressed in these words, God considereth the works of the inhabitants of the earth, is a necessary consequence of this principle, God fashioneth their hearts alike, and this principle is a necessary consequence of that which the psalmist had before laid down to account for the origin of the world. Yes! from the doctrine of God the Creator of men, follows that of God the inspector, the director, the rewarder, and the punisher of their actions. One of the most specious objections, that hath ever been opposed to the doctrine of Providence, is a contrast between the grandeur of God and the meanness of men. How can such an insignificant creature as man be an object of the care and attention of such a magnificent Being as God? No objection can be more specious, or, in appearance, more invincible. The distance between the meanest insect and mightiest monarch, who treads and crushes reptiles to death without the least regard to them, is a very imperfect image of the distance between God and man. That which proves that it would be beneath the dignity of a