Sivut kuvina

ing creatures, it was either the pleasure he might have in creating them, or the pleasure he might derive from having them ever before him, or that he might use them as a means to some end, deemed worthy of his highest regard.

If the first be the true reas son for the existence of creatures, namely, the pleasure of creating them ; their exista ence must cease as soon as it begins, because the end of it is then answered. If it be the second, viz. the pleasure of beholding them in existence, they are and continue to be but mere instruments, subserving the good pleasure of God, as their end ; the same as in the last case, viz. when they are viewed as useful, only in relation to the glory of God, which they are instrumental of promoting: Had the Deity no end to answer, such as his own glory, or the revelation of his own eternal wisdom and goodness, a single creature would not exist in the universe.

In such a case, there could have been no occasion for them. Would a man, who intended to pass all his days and nights in the open air, without any other covering, or shelter, than the curtain of heaven, have any occasion to build and furnish a mansion house for himself? “ Every house," we are told, « is builded by some man ; but he that built all things is God." As a man, who intends living abroad, all his days, will not be at the expence and pains of building himself a house ; so neither would God have reared up the great fabric of creation if he had not intended to use it for some

great purpose; if he had not seen the need of it to secure to himself that honour and praise, which is due to him. And as a house is not complete and ready for occupancy, until it is furnished with all manner of vessels ; so the creatures of God, of various descriptions, are represented as vessels in his house, to be used in his service, and according to the dictates of his will. « But in a great house," says the apostle, “ there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth ; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man, therefore, purge him. self from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the Master's use, and prepared unto every good work." It is not some of the greatest and noblest of God's works only, that he subordinates to his own glory, by constituting them the instruments of his government.

Our text informs us, that he created all things, not the creatures of this, that, or the other species, but all, of whatever rank, class, or denomination, “ to the intent that now, unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places, might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.” The obvious meaning is, that the whole congregated mass of creatures exists for the purpose of manifesting the Deity; and that no other reason can be assigned for the existence of any created thing.

All household utensils, those of wood and earth, as well as those of gold and silver, and the dishonourable as really as the honourable, ad

necessary to put forward the business of the house. The weaker could no better be dis. pensed with than the stronger; nor the brittle than the more firm and durable. God has occasion for the use of insects and worms, as really as he has for that of men and angels. Whatever he has power to make, he has wisdom also to subordinate to himself, in such a manner, as to render it declarative of his own glory. For a livelier and more impressive view of the subject, it may, perhaps, be desirable to see it drawn out into particulars, that our ideas may have a more extensive range, and more comprehensively notice the mysterious workings of an unseen hand. We shall, therefore, turn our thoughts, successively to the instrumentality of creatures, unintelligent and irrational, holy and sinful, in the kingdom of God, and observe something of their use, in providence, to declare the manifold wisdom and perfection of God. We shall first speak of those creatures, which, in the scale of being, are inferior to man. These are of various degrees, some higher and some lower, but none of them useless, or unnecessary, in relation to the final event, which is the exhibition of the greatness and glory of him, who made them. It is not for us to say, that the utility of things extends no farther than we can trace it. If this might be presumed, the greatest part of creation might be pronounced a blank, entirely desti. tute of worth ; for it is in but very few things, in comparison, that we are able to

point out the tendency and influence they have to promote the great end of being, which is the glory of its original and eternal proprietor. Yet this gives us no more reason to conclude, that but few things do actually have this good tendency ; than our not knowing the particular use of some mechan. ical instrument will authorize a conclusion, that it is absolutely good for nothing. Let a person, bred up from childhood, upon a peasant's fare, in a poor country-village, be introduced into a king's palace, and shown all the variety of furniture; made use of in serving the occasions of royalty, and he would, doubtless, see many articles, that would appear very strange to him. He would be unable to forın any idea of the use, they could be put to. Ought he, therefore, to conclude they were for no use? Certainly not. But it would be comparing great things with small to receive this as an illustration of the works of God, and the mystery there is in them. And it it would be rashness to de. cide as in the former supposed case ; how unreasonable and even impious would it be to deny, that God works for the honour of his own name by means of such created things, as present to us no marks of their fitness for such an end ? Ought we not rather to adopt the universal language of the Psalmist, and say, “ All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord ?" It is only in the capacity and condition of instruments, by which he works, that God receives praise from

creatures, especially such as are unendowed with the intelligence, which is necessary to the knowledge of God, and the acknowledge ment of his goodness. In this sense, the fol. lowing declaration of the Psalmist is strictly true. 66 The heavens declare the glory of God ; and the firmament sheweth his handy-work. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge." It was by reflecting upon the extensive in. fluence of natural things, in promoting the ends of divine government, the wonderful effects they produce under the directing energies of an almighty arm, that he was led to the following strain of animated and earn. est invocation. “Praise ye the Lord. Praise ye the Lord from the heavens : praise him in the heights. Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light. Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters above the heavens. Let them praise the name of the Lord : for he cominanded, and they were created. He hath also established them for ever and ever : he hath made a decree which

Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps : Fire and hail, soow and vapour ; stormy wind fulfiling his word : Mountains, and all hills ; fruit; ful trees, and all cedars : Beasts, and all cattle ; creeping things, and flying fowl.” When Jesus Christ, our divine Redeemer, asserted his authority and dominion over the natur. al world, in a Godlike manner, he caused men to marvel,“ saying, What manner of

shall not pass.

« EdellinenJatka »