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condition, and with the low rank which we hold in the scale of Universal Being!
It is not improbable, that there are in the universe, intelligences of a superior order, in whose breasts pride never found a place to whom this globe of ours, and all its inhabitants, appear as inconsiderable as a drop of water filled with microscopic animalculæ, does to the proud lords of this earthly region. There is at least one Being to whom this sentiment is applicable, in its utmost extent:-"Before HIM all nations are as a drop of a bucket, and the inhabitants of the earth as grasshoppers; yea, they are as nothing, and are counted to him less than nothing and vanity." Could we wing our way, with the swiftness of a seraph, from sun to sun, and from world to world, till we had surveyed all the systems visible to the naked eye, which are only as a mere speck in the map of the universe-could we, at the same time, contemplate the glorious landscapes and scenes of grandeur they exhibit— could we also mingle with the pure and exalted intelligences which people those resplendent abodes, and behold their humble and ardent adorations of their Almighty Maker, their benign and condescending deportment towards one another ; "each esteeming another better than himself," and all united in the bonds of the purest affection, without one haughty or discordant feeling-what indignation and astonishment would seize us, on our return to this obscure corner of creation, to behold beings enveloped in the mists of ignorance, immersed in depravity and wickedness, liable to a thousand accidents, exposed to the ravages of the earthquake, the volcano, and the storms; yet proud as Lucifer, and glorying in their shame? We should be apt to view them, as we now do those bedlamites, who fancy themselves to be kings, surrounded by their nobles, while they are chained to the walls of a noisome dungeon. "Sure pride was never made for man." How abhorrent, then, must it appear in the eyes of superior beings, who have taken an expansive range through the field of creation? How abhorrent it is in the sight of the Almighty, and how amiable is the opposite virtue, we learn from his word :-"Every one that is
proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord."—" God resisteth the proud, but he giveth grace to the humble.”— "Thus saith the High and Lofty One, who inhabiteth eternity, I dwell in the high and holy place; with him also that is of an humble and contrite spirit; to revive the spirit of the humble, and the heart of the contrite ones."While, therefore, we contemplate the Omnipotence of God, in the immensity of creation, let us learn to cultivate humility and self-abasement. This was one of the lessons which the pious Psalmist deduced, from his survey of the nocturnal heavens. When he beheld the moon walking in brightness, and the innumerable host of stars, overpowered with a sense of his own insignificance, and the greatness of Divine condescension, he exclaimed, "O Lord! what is man, that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man, that thou shouldst visit him !”
Again, this subject is also calculated to inspire us with REVERENCE and VENERATION of God. Profound veneration of the Divine Being lies at the foundation of all religious worship and obedience. But, in order to venerate God aright, we must know him; and, in order to acquire the true knowledge of him, we must contemplate him through the medium of those works and dispensations, by which he displays the glories of his nature to the inhabitants of our world. We have already exhibited a few specimens of the stupendous operations of his power, in that portion of the system of the universe which lies open to our inspection; and there is, surely, no mind in which the least spark of piety exists, but must feel strong emotions of reverence and awe, at the thought of that Almighty and Incomprehensible Being, who impels the huge masses of the planetary globes, with such amazing rapidity through the sky, and who has diversified the voids of space with so vast an assemblage of magnificent worlds. Even those manifestations of Deity which are confined to the globe we inhabit, when attentively considered, are calculated to rouse, even the unthinking mind, to astonishment and awe. The lofty mountains, and expansive plains, the mass of waters in the mighty ocean, the thunders rolling along the sky, the lightnings flashing from
cloud to cloud, the hurricane and the tempest, the volcano vomiting rivers of fire, and the earthquake shaking kingdoms, and levelling cities with the ground-all proclaim the Majesty of Him, by whom the elements of nature are arranged and directed, and seem to address the sons of men in language like this: "The Lord reigneth, he is clothed with majesty; at his wrath the earth trembles; a fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies.". "Let all the earth fear the Lord, let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him."
There is one reason, among others, why the bulk of mankind feel so little veneration of God, and that is, that they seldom contemplate, with fixed attention, “the operations of his hands." If we wish to cherish this sublime sentiment in our hearts, we must familiarize our minds to frequent excursions over all those scenes of Creation and Providence, which the volume of nature, and the volume of inspiration, unfold to view. We must endeavour to assist our conceptions of the grandeur of these objects, by every discovery which has been, or may yet be made, and by every mode of illustration, by which a sublime and comprehensive idea of the particular object of contemplation may be obtained.-If we would wish to acquire some definite, though imperfect conception of the physical extent of the universe, our minds might be assisted by such illustrations as the following:-Light flies from the sun with a velocity of nearly two hundred thousand miles in a moment of time, or, about 1,400,000 times swifter than the motion of a cannon ball: Suppose that one of the highest order of intelligences is endowed with a power of rapid motion superior to that of light, and with a corresponding degree of intellectual energy; that he has been flying, without intermission, from one province of creation to another, for six thousand years, and will continue the same rapid course for a thousand millions of years to come; it is highly probable, if not absolutely certain, that, at the end of this vast tour, he would have advanced no further than "the suburbs of creation"—and that all the magnificent systems of material and intellectual beings he had surveyed, during his rapid flight, and for such a length of
ages, bear no more proportion to the whole Empire o Omnipotence, than the smallest grain of sand does to all the particles of matter of the same size contained in ten thousand worlds. Nor need we entertain the least fear, that the idea of the extent of the Creator's power, conveyed by such a representation, exceeds the bounds of reality. On the other hand, it must fall almost infinitely short of it. For, as the poet has justly observed—
"Can man conceive beyond what God can do?"
Were a seraph, in prosecuting the tour of creation in the manner now stated, ever to arrive at a limit beyond which no further displays of the Divinity could be perceived, the thought would overwhelm his faculties with unutterable anguish and horror; he would feel, that he had now, in some measure, comprehended all the plans and operations of Omnipotence, and that no further manifestation of the Divine glory remained to be explored. But we may rest assured, that this can never happen in the case of any created intelligence. We have every reason to believe, both from the nature of an Infinite Being, and from the vast extent of creation already explored, that the immense mass of material existence, and the endless variety of sensitive and intellectual beings with which the universe is replenished, are intended by Jehovah, to present to his rational offspring, a shadow, an emblem, or a representation (in so far as finite extended existence can be a representation) of the Infinite Perfections of his nature, which would otherwise have remained for ever impalpable to all subordinate intelligences.
In this manner, then, might we occasionally exercise our minds on the grand and diversified objects which the universe exhibits; and, in proportion as we enlarge the sphere of our contemplations, in a similar proportion will our views of God himself be extended, and a corresponding sentiment of veneration impressed upon the mind. For the soul of man cannot venerate a mere abstract being, that was never manifested through a sensible medium, however many lofty terms may be used to describe his perfections. It venerates that Ineffable Being, who
conceals himself behind the scenes of Creation, through the medium of the visible displays he exhibits of his Power, Wisdom, and Beneficence, in the Economy of Nature, and in the Records of Revelation.-Before the universe was formed, Jehovah existed alone, possessed of every attribute which he now displays. But, had only one solitary intelligence been created, and placed in the infinite void, without a material substratum beneath and around him, he could never have been animated with a sentiment of profound veneration for his Creator; because no objects existed to excite it, or to show, that his Invisible Maker was invested with those attributes which he is now known to possess. Accordingly, we find, in the sacred writings, that when a sentiment of reverence is demanded from the sons of men, those sensible objects which are calculated to excite the emotion, are uniformly exhibited. "Fear ye not me, saith the Lord? Will ye not tremble at my presence? who have placed the sand for the bound of the sea, by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it; and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet they cannot prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it.” "Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? Thou art the true God, and an everlasting King.-Thou hast made the earth by thy power, thou hast established the world by thy wisdom, thou hast stretched out the heavens by thy discretion. When thou utterest thy voice there is a noise of waters in the heavens, thou causest the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth, thou makest lightnings with rain, and bringest forth the winds out of thy treasures."*
But, however enlarged and venerable conceptions of God we may derive from the manifestations of his power, they must fall infinitely short of what is due to a Being of boundless perfection. For there may be attributes in the Divine Essence, of which we cannot possibly form the least conception-attributes which cannot be shadowed forth or represented by any portion of the material or intellectual world yet discovered by us, or by all the mighty
Jerem. x. 7-13.