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St. Peter aims to rouse the piety of christians by the idea of that great day in which the world must be reduced to ashes : when new heavens and a new earth shall appear to the children of God. Libertines regarded that day as a chimera. Where, said they, is the promise of the Lord's coming; for, since the fathers fell asleep, all thing's contime as they were from the beginning of the creation ? 2 Pet. Mi. 4. &c. The words of my text are an answer to this objection : an idea which we will presently explain, but which you must, at least in a vague manner, retain all along, if you mean to follow us this in discourse, in which we would wish to include all the different views of the Apostle: In order to which three things are necessary;
I. We will examine our text in itself, and endeavor to etablish this proposition, One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. · II. We will prove what we have advanced : That is, That St. Peter's design in these words was to answer the objections of libertines against the doc
trine of the conflagration of the world : and we will - prove that they completely answer the purpose.
III. We will draw from this doctrine, secured against the objections of libertines, such motives to piety as the Apostle presents as with.
In considering these words in this point of light, we will apply them to your present circumstances. The renewal of the year, properly understood, is only the anniversary of the vanity of our life, and thence the calls to detach yourselves from the world. And what can be more proper to produce such a detachment than this reflection, that not only the years which we must pass on earth are consuming, but also that the years of the world's subsistence are are alieady consumed in part, and that the time ap
proaches, in which it must be delivered to the flames, and reduced to ashes ?
Let us first consider the words of our text in themselves, and let us prove this proposition, one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
The notion I have of God is my principle: the words of my text are the consequence. If I establish the principle, the consequence will be incontestible. 1. Eternity-2. Perfect knowledge, and, in some sort, the sight and presence of all that has been, of all that is, and of all that shall be.-3. Sipreme happiness : are three ideas, which form my. notion of the Deity: this is my principle. A thousand years then are as one day, and one day as a thousand years with the Lord : this is my consequence. Let us prove the truth of the principle, by justifying the notion we form of the Deity.
1. God is an eternal being. This is not a chimera of my mind : it is a truth accompanied with all the evidence of which a proposition is capable. I exist, I speak, you hear me, at least you seem to hear me. These are facts, the certainty of which all the philosophers in the world can never destroy. I am not able to new-mould myself, nor çan I help the perception of truths, the knowledge of which (if I may be allowed to say so) is as essential to me as my own existence. It does not depend on me not to regard Pyrrho and Academus, those famous defenders of doubt and uncertainty, as fools who extinguished the light of common sense, or rather as impostors, who pronounced propositions with their mouths, the falsity of which it was impossible their minds should not perceive. I repeat it again, the most subtle objections of all the philosophers, in the world united, can never diminish in me that impression, which the perception of my. own existence makes on my mind, nor hinder my evidence of the truth of these propositions, I exist, I speak, you hear me, at least (for with the people whom I oppose, one must weigh each expression, and in some sort, each syllable) at least I have the same impressions as if there were beings before my eyes who beard me.
If Iam sure of my own existence, I am no less sure that I am not the author of it myself, and that .. I derive it from a superior Being. Were I altogether ignorant of the history of the world ; if I had never heard that I was only of yesterday, as the Psalmist speaks, Psal. xc. 4. if I knew not that my parents, who were born like me, are dead; were I not assured that I should soon die; if I knew nothing of all this, yet I should not doubt whether I owed my existence to a superior Being. I can never convince myself that a creature so feeble as I am, a creature whose least desires meet with insurmountable obstacles, a creature who cannot add one cubit to his stature, Matt. v. 27. a creature who cannot prolong his own life one single instant, one who is forced to yield, willing or unwilling, to a greater power which cries to him, Dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return, Gen. iii. 19. I can never convince myself that such a creature existed from all eternity, much less that he owes his existence only to himself, and to the eminence of his own prefections. It is then sure that I exist : it is also certain that I am not the author of my own existence.
This certainty is all I ask; I ask only these two propositions: I exist, I am not the author of my own existence, to convince me that there is an eternal Being. Yes, though a revelation emanating from the bosom of Omniscience had never given me this idea of the Divinity; though Moses had never pro
nounced this oracle, before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting thou art God, Psal. xc. 2. though the four-and-twenty elders, who surround the throne of God, had never rendered homage to his eternity, or prostrating before him, incessantly cried, We give thee thanks, Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art'to come, Rev. xi. 17. though the eternal Being had never said of himself, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. Rev. i. 8. Yea, though the eternal Being had never convinced me of his grandeur by the works of his hands, if I had been all alone in the pature of beings, I should have been forced to admit an eternal Being. And this proposition, There is an eternal Being, naturally flows from those Lexist, and I am not the author of my own existence; for if I be not the author of my own existence, I owe it to another Being That Being to whom I owe my existence, derives his from himself, or like me, owes it to another. If he exist of himself, behold the eternal Being whom I have been seeking; If he derive his existence from another, I reason about him as about the former. Thus I ascend, thus I am constrained to ascend, till I arrive at thata Being who exists of himself, and who hath always so existed.
Let such of you, my brethren, as cannot follow this reasoning, blame only themselves. · Let not such people say, these are abstruse and metaphysical reflections, which should never be brought into these assemblies. It is not fair that the incapacity of a small number, an incapacity caused by their voluntary attachment to sensible things, and (so to speak) by their criminal interment in matter; it is not right that this should retard the edification of a whole people, and prevent the proposing of the
first principles of natural religion. Eternity enters then into the idea of the creative Being; and this is what we proposed to prove. .2: Omniscience, intimate acquaintance, and, in a manner, the presence of all that is, of all that has been, of all that shall be, is the second idea which we form of the Deity. The more we meditate on the essence and self-existence of the eternal Being, the more are we convinced that omniscience necessarily belongs to eternity; so that to have proved that God possesses the first of these attributes, is to have proved that he possesses the se. cond. But as I am certain that a great number of my hearers would charge those reflections with obscurity, of which they are ignorant only through their own inattention, I will not undertake to prove, by a chain of propositions, that the eternal Being knows all things; that, as author of all, he knows-the nature of all ; that, knowing the nature of all, he knows what must result from all. It will be better to give you this subject ready digested in our holy scriptures, than to oblige you to collect it by your own meditation. Recal then on this article these expressions of the sacred writers: O Lord, thou knowest all things, John xxi, 17. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it? I the Lord search the heart and try the reins, Jer. xvii. 9, 10. Known unto him are all his works from the beginning, Acts xv. 18. The word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight, Heb. iv. 12, &c. Some interpreters think that by the word of God, we must understand bere, not the