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There is not, in my opinion, a more pleasing and triumphant consideration in religion than this of the perpetual progress which the soul makes towards the perfection of its natnre, without ever arriving at a period in it. To look upon the soul as going on from strength to strength, to consider that she is to shine foreyer with new accessions of glory, and brighten to all eternity ; that she will be still adding virtue to virtue, and knowledge to knowledge ; carries in it something' wonderfully agreeable to that ambition which is natural to the mind of man. Nay, it must be a prospect pleasing to God himself, to see his creation forever beautifying in his eyes, and drawing to him by greater degrees of resemblance.
Methinks this single consideration, of the progress of a finite spirit to perfection, will be sufficient to extinguish all envy in inferior natures, and all contempt in superior. That cher. nbim, which now appears as a God to a human soul, knows very well that the period will come about in eternity, when the human soul shall be as perfect as he himself now is : nay, when she shall look down upon that degree of perfection as much as she now falls short of it. It is true, the higher nature still advances, and by that means preserves his distance and superiority in the scale of being; but he knows that, how high soever the station is, of which he stands at present, the inferior nature will at length mount up to it, and shine forth in the same degree of glory.
With what astonishment and veneration may we look into our on souls, where there are
such hidden stores of virtue and knowledge, such inexhausted sources of perfection? We know not yet what we shali be, nor will it ever enter into the heart of man toʻconceive the gloty that will he always in reserve for 13.11.
Tie soul, considered with its Creator, is iike on! those mathematical lines that may dra iv gearex to another for all eternity without a possibility of touching it: and can there be a thought so transporting, as to consider ourselves in these perpetial approaches to Him, who is not only tie standard of perfection, but of happiness!
SPECTATOR, Vol. 2. p. 109. No. 111.
On the THOUGHTS of GOD.
I DO not know a grander or sublimer subject to entertain my readers with, than the consideration of the Thoughts of God. O subject immense! who is able to speak, write, or even think upon it with propriety? I shall only mention the eight following properties of the Thoughts of Jebovah, which I recommend to the serious attention of all.
1. God's Thoughts are permanent : “ The counsel of Jebovah standeth forever, the tho'ts of his heart to all generations ;" Psalm xxxiii.
11. His thoughts do not change, vary, and perish like ours; but they remain, and stand fast from one generation to another.
2. They are innumerable : "Many, 0 Je. hovah, my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us ward; they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee ; if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be number: ed :" Psalm xl. 5.
Oh, how innumerable are the thoughts of God! their number is infinite. Our thoughts are many : who can number the thoughts that pass through the mind of even one man? and, what then shall we say of the number of the thoughts of Him, who gave man power to think?
The thoughts of God must be as numerous as all the creatures he has made, put together; for this plain reason, because they never could have existed, had not the Creator thought upon them: Thus, all the creatures he hath formed are pictures of his thoughts; and Oh, how great is their number! The providential care of God towards all his creatures, without exception, farther multiplies his thoughts. He thinks of them all, from the highest angel in heaven, down to the smallest microscopial object; and constantly provides for them all, both the means of existence and happiness.. All their natures, inclinations, &c. and all the principles, motives faction, thoughts, words & actions, of rationintelligences, are known to God,
** O Jehovah, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my down-sitting, and mine up-rising, thou understandest my thoughts afar off.
Thou compassest my path, and my lying-down, and art acquainted with all any ways: for there is not a word in my tongue, but lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether : thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it:" Psalm cxxxix. 1
---6. All things that have been, are, or shall be, are open before God, as also, all possible causes & effects. All the several limbs & various parts of animals, with all their motions and uses, must have existed in the thoughts of God, before ever they could exist in any of his creatures. “My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them :" Psalm cxxxix, 15, 16. So that in the thoughts of God, all our limbs, with all their motions, must have existed, and all their uses been designed there, before we were born : not only all the bones in our bodies, (which are 284) but all our veins, (which are as many as the days in a year) with all our arteries, muscles, nerves, &c. &c. were in his mind, before they were in our bodies. God's thoughts, as revealed by his works of creation and providence, are innumerable,
3. The thoughts of God are both infinite in number and very precious: “How precious also, are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand : when I awake I am still with thee;" Psalm cxxxix. 17, 18.
O what a joyful consideration it is, that not even a sparrow is forgotten before God ! how much less then, a man who puts his trust in tlie Lord, and delights in the service of his Creator. If God employs more thoughts in caring for, keeping, and protecting one of his faithful sera vants, than can be numbered by man,and which are said even to exceed the sand on the sea shore ; how many thoughts must he employ respecting all his creatures, and all their different circumstances ! It is a glorious consideration for each person who loves and fears God, to think that, though God has such infinite num. ber of things and beings to care and provide for ---yet he is as much at leisure, to notice every case and circumstance of the poorest suppliant that ever called upon his name, as tho' he had nothing else to attend to! He is present with those that hope in him, by night and by day; he thinks upon them whether they wake or sleep; when they prosper or when they suffer adversie ty ; whether they are well or sick ; in trouble or at ease; whether surrounded by friends or foes; let who will forget them, he earnestly re. members them still : he thinks on them while living, and doth not forget then when they die : he knows their sorrows, and how to deliver