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tion of our Redeemer, he has ceased to stand in the relation of our Creator and Preserver? Or shall we consider those subjects as unworthy of our attention, which are the theme of the praises of the heavenly host?-Rev. iv. 11. Can we suppose that the Almighty displayed his infinite wisdom in the curious organization of the human eye, that man-the only being in this world who is endowed with faculties capable of appreciating its structure, and for whose use and entertainment it was intended-should overlook such a wonderful piece of Divine workmanship, and feel no gratitude for the bestowment of so admirable a gift? Shall we extol the ingenuity displayed in a clock or a watch, in a chess-player, or a steam engine, and shall we feel no sentiment of admiration at the view of millions of instances of Divine mechanism, which infinitely transcend the powers of the human understanding? To act in this manner, as too many are disposed to do, is unworthy of man, both as a Christian and as an intelligent agent. Such was not the conduct of the inspired writers; their spirituality of views did not lead them to neglect the contemplation of any of the works of God. "I will meditate on all thy works," says the Psalmist, "and talk of all thy doings; I will utter abundantly the memory of thy great goodness, and speak of all thy wondrous works.” Accordingly, we find, that the wonders of the human frame, the economy of the animal and the vegetable tribes, the scenery of the "dry land," and of the " mighty deep," and the glories of the heavens, were the frequent subjects of their devout contemplation. They considered them in relation to the unceasing agency of God, by whom they were formed and arranged, and as declaring his Wisdom, Goodness, and Omnipotence; and, with this view, ought all the scenes of the visible creation to be investigated by his intelligent
We have reason to believe, that it is owing, in part, to want of attention to the Divine wisdom and beneficence, as exhibited in the construction of the visible world, that many professed Christians entertain so vague and confused ideas respecting the wisdom and goodness of the Deity, as displayed in the economy of Redemption. The
terms, Wisdom, Goodness, and Beneficence, in their mouths, become words almost without meaning, to which no precise or definite ideas are attached; because they have never considered the instances and the evidences of these attributes, as displayed in the material creation. And, if our minds have not been impressed with a sense of the wisdom and beneficence of God, in those objects which are presented to the external senses, we cannot be supposed to have luminous and distinct ideas of those spiritual objects and arrangements which are removed beyond the sphere of our corporeal organs. For all our ideas, in relation to Religion and its objects, are primarily derived from the intimations we receive of external objects, through the medium of our senses, and, consequently, the more clearly we perceive the agency of God, in his visible operations, the more shall we be qualified to perceive the wisdom and harmony of his dispensations, as recorded in the volume of inspiration.
We live in a world, all the arrangements of which are the effects of infinite wisdom. We are surrounded with wonders on every hand; and, therefore, we cease to admire, or to fix our attention on any one of the wonders daily performed by God. We have never been accustomed to contemplate, or to inhabit, a world where benevolence and wisdom are not displayed; and, therefore, we are apt to imagine, that the circumstances of our terrestrial existence could not have been much otherwise than they actually are. We behold the sun in the morning, ascending from the east-a thousand shining globes are seen in the canopy of the sky, when he has disappeared in the westwe open our eye-lids, and the myriads of objects which compose an extensive landscape, are, in a moment, painted on our retina,—we wish to move our bodies, and, in an instant, the joints and muscles of our hands and feet perform their several functions. We spread out our wet clothes to dry, and in a few hours the moisture is evaporated. We behold the fields drenched with rain, and in a few days it disappears, and is dispersed through the surrounding atmosphere, to be again embodied into clouds. These are all common operations, and, therefore, thoughtless and un
grateful man seldom considers the obligations he is under to the Author of his existence, for the numerous enjoyments which flow from these wise arrangements. But, were the globe we inhabit, and all its appendages, to remain in their present state-and were only the principle of evaporation, and the refractive and reflective properties of the air to be destroyed-we should soon feel, by the universal gloom which would ensue, and by a thousand other inconveniences we should suffer, what a miserable world was allotted for our abode. We should most sensibly perceive the wisdom and goodness we had formerly overlooked, and would most ardently implore the restoration of those arrangements for which we were never sufficiently grateful. And why should we not now-while we enjoy so many comforts flowing from the plans of Infinite Wisdom-have our attention directed to the benevolent contrivances within us, and around us, in order that grateful emotions may be hourly arising in our hearts, to the Father of our spirits? For the essence of true religion consists chiefly in gratitude to the God of our life, and the Author of our salvation; and every pleasing sensation we feel from the harmonies and the beauties of nature, ought to inspire us with this sacred emotion. "Hearken unto this, O man! stand still, and consider the wonderful works of God. Contemplate the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of Him who is perfect in knowledge." "He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom. When he uttereth his voice, there is a noise of waters in the heavens; he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth, and bringeth the winds out of his treasures." While it is shameful for man to be inattentive to the wonders which surround him, what can be more pleasing and congenial to a rational, and devout mind, than contemplations on the works of the Most High? "What can be more gratifying," says Sturm, "than to contemplate, in the heavens, in the earth, in the water, in the night and day, and, indeed, throughout all nature, the proofs which they afford of the wisdom, the purity, and the goodness of our great Creator and Preserver? What can be more delightful than to re
cognise, in the whole creation, in all the natural world, in every thing we see, traces of the ever-working providence, and tender mercy of the great Father of all ?"
On the Goodness, or Benevolence of the DEITY.
THE Benevolence of God is that perfection of his nature, by which he communicates happiness to the various ranks of sensitive and intelligent existence.
The system of Nature, in all its parts, exhibits an unbounded display of this attribute of the Divine Mind. In relation to Man-the magnificence and glory of the heavens-the variegated colouring which is spread over the scene of nature-the beautiful flowers, shrubs, and trees, with which the earth is adorned, which not only delight the eye, but perfume the air with their delicious odoursthe various kinds of agreeable sounds that charm the ear -the music of the feathered songsters, which fill the groves with their melody-the thousands of pleasant images which delight the eye, in the natural embellishments of creation-the agreeable feelings produced by the contact of almost every thing we have occasion to touch-the pleasure attached to eating, drinking, muscular motion, and activity-the luxuriant profusion, and rich variety of aliments which the earth affords-and the interchanges of thought and affection-all proclaim the Benevolence of our Almighty Maker, and show, that the communication of happiness is one grand object of all his arrangements. For, these circumstances are not essentially requisite to our existence. We might have lived, and breathed, and walked, though every thing we touched had produced pain; though every thing we ate and drank had been bitter; though every movement of our hands and feet had been accompanied with uneasiness and fatigue; though every sound had been as harsh as the saw of the carpen
ter; though no birds had warbled in the groves; though no flowers had decked the fields, or filled the air with their perfumes; though one unvaried scene of dull uniformity had prevailed, and beauty and sublimity had been swept from the face of nature; though the earth had been covered with a mantle of black, and no radiant orbs had appeared in our nocturnal sky. But what a miserable world should we then have inhabited, compared with that which we now possess! Life would have passed away without enjoyment; and pain would have overbalanced the pleasures of existence. Whereas, in the existing constitution of things, all the objects around us, and every sense of which we are possessed, when preserved in its natural vigour, have a direct tendency to produce pleasing sensations, and to contribute to our enjoyment: And, it is chiefly when we indulge in foolish and depraved passions, and commit immoral actions, that the benevolent intentions of the Deity are frustrated, and pain and misery produced.
If we consider, farther, that the inexhaustible bounty of the Creator, and the numerous pleasures we enjoy, are bestowed upon a guilty race of men, the benevolence of the Deity will appear in a still more striking point of view. Man has dared to rebel against his Maker; he is a depraved and ungrateful creature. The great majority of our race have banished God from their thoughts, trampled upon his laws, neglected to contemplate his works, refused pay him that tribute of reverence and adoration which his perfections demand, have been ungrateful for his favours, have blasphemed his name, and have transferred to "four-footed beasts and creeping things" that homage which is due to him alone. It has been the chief part of their employment, in all ages, to counteract the effects of his Beneficence, by inflicting injustice, oppression, and torture, upon each other; by maiming the human frame, burning cities and villages, turning fruitful fields into a wilderness, and, by every other act of violence, carrying death and destruction through the world. And, if water, air, and the light of heaven, had been placed within the limits of their control, it is more than probable, that whole