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SUMMARY OF SERMON VI.
JEREMIAH, CHAP. LI.-VERSE 15.
AN attentive observation of this world, or visible frame, is not only a worthy employment of our thoughts, but even a considerable duty: for it is what affords most cogent and satisfactory arguments for that foundation of all religion, the being of one God, incomprehensibly excellent in all perfections: it also serves to beget in our minds suitable affections towards him, &c. General view of those footsteps or signs which discover the work of one wise, powerful, and good Being.
I. Things viewed singly, which are most familiar and obvious to our senses: first, for example, those plants which we every day see, smell, and taste; the construction and propagation, &c. of these specified. Inquiry whence all this fitness of things can arise: whether from chance or casual motions of matter? Answered: that it is repugnant to the name and nature of chance, that any thing regular or constant should arise from it: this enlarged on. Whether from necessity? In this case the phrase only is altered; for necessary causality, taken without relation to some wisdom or counsel that established it, is but another name for chance: this topic dilated on. These effects therefore must proceed from wisdom, such as surpasses our comprehension, joined to power equally great, &c.
And if we have reason to acknowlege so much wisdom and power discovered in one plant, and multiplied in so many thousands of different kinds, how much more may we discern them in any one animal; in all of them? The animal structure, &c. enlarged on. And can this proceed from mere chance or
blind necessity? Could ever senseless matter jumble itself into such wonderful postures, so that of innumerable myriads of atoms none should in roving miss their way? none fail to seat themselves in the order of exactest art? This subject dilated on.
II. But if, passing from particulars, we observe the relation of several kinds of things each to other, we shall find more reason to be convinced concerning the same excellent perfections farther extending themselves. Is there not, for example, a palpable relation between the frame, the temper, the natural inclinations, or instincts of each animal, and its element or natural place of abode, wherein it only can live, finding therein its food, its harbour, its refuge? Is not to each faculty within an object without prepared, exactly correspondent thereto ? which were it wanting, the faculty would become vain and useless, yea, sometimes hurtful, &c. This topic dilated on, with the various products of nature, formed for the purpose of ministering to our preservation, ease, and delight, &c. And must we bless fortune for all this? did she so especially love us, and tender our good? does she so crown' us with lovingkindness,. and daily load us with benefits? Shall we, in her favor, disclaim so noble a parent, as omnipotence in wisdom and in goodness? This topic enlarged on.
III. The last consideration intimated was, that all these things join together in one universal consort, with one harmonious voice, to proclaim one and the same Wisdom, as having designed; one and the same Power, as having produced; one and the same Goodness, as having set both wisdom and power to work in designing and producing their being, in preserving and governing it. For this whole system of things, what is it but one goodly body, as it were, compacted of several members and organs, so aptly, that each confers its being and its operation to the ornament and stability of the whole? All the parts of the world, said a philosopher, are so constituted, that they could not be either better for use, or more beautiful for show.
This topic dilated on. If then, as Plutarch observes, no fair thing is ever produced by hazard, but with art framing it; how could this most fair comprehension of all fair things be, not the lawful issue of art, but a by-blow of fortune; of fortune, the mother only of broods monstrous and misshapen? If the nature of any cause be discoverable by its effects; if from any work we may infer the workman's ability; if in any case the results of wisdom are distinguishable from the consequences of chance; we have reason to believe that the Architect of this magnificent frame was one incomprehensibly wise, powerful, and good Being. Conclusion.
I Believe in God,
THE BEING OF GOD PROVED FROM THE FRAME OF THE WORLD.
JEREMIAH, CHAP. LI.-VERSE 15.
He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heaven by his understanding.
THE attentive observation of this world, or visible frame, is not only in itself a most worthy employment of our thoughts, (much more noble than any of those petty cares, w commonly possess or distract our minds,) but, if either the example of the best men, or the great usefulness thereof, to the best purposes, can oblige us, even a considerable duty not to be neglected by us. For it is that which affords most cogent and satisfactory arguments to convince us of, and to confirm us in, the belief of that truth which is the foundation of all religion and piety, the being of one God, incomprehensibly excellent in all perfections, the maker and upholder of all things; it instructs us not only that God is, but more distinctly shows what he is; declaring his chief and peculiar attributes of wisdom, goodness, and power superlative; it also serves to beget in our minds affections toward God, suitable to those notions; a reverent adoration of his unsearchable wisdom; an awful dread of his powerful majesty; a grateful love of his gracious benignity and goodness: to these uses we find it applied by the best men, not
only by the wisest philosophers among heathens, but by the holy prophets of God; who frequently harp on this string, and make sweetest melody thereon; exciting both in themselves and others, pious thoughts and holy devotions therewith; strengthening their faith in God; advancing their reverence toward him; quickening and inflaming their love of him; magnifying his glory and praise thereby ; by the consideration, I say, of those wonderful effects discernible in nature, or appearing to us in this visible world. And if ever to imitate them herein were necessary, it seems to be so now, when a pretence to natural knowlege, and acquaintance with these things, hath been so much abused to the promoting of atheism and irreligion; when that instrument which was chiefly designed, and is of itself most apt, to bring all reasonable creatures to the knowlege, and to the veneration of their Maker, hath (in a method most preposterous and unnatural) been perverted to contrary ends and effects. To the preventing and removing which abuse, as every man should contribute what he can, so let me be allowed to endeavor somewhat toward it, by representing briefly what my meditation did suggest, serving to declare that (as the prophet asserts, or implies in the words I read) even in this visible world there are manifest tokens, or footsteps, by which we may discover it to be the work, or product, of one Being, incomprehensibly wise, powerful, and good; to whom, consequently, we must owe the highest respect and love, all possible worship and service. Of these footsteps, or signs, there be innumerably many, which, singly taken, do discover such perfections to be concerned in the production of them; the relation of several to each other do more strongly and plainly confirm the same; the connection and correspondence of all together doth still add force and evidence thereto, each attesting to the existence of those perfections, all conspiring to declare them concentred and united in one Cause and Being.
I. View we first, singly, those things, which are most familiar and obvious to our senses, (for only some such I mean to consider, such as any man awake, and in his senses, without any study or skill more than ordinary, without being a deep philosopher or a curious virtuoso, may with an easy attention observe and discern ;) view we such objects, I say; for instance,