« AnteriorContinuar »
knoweth how to connect alike with the laws of order and equity, the virtues of the righteous, the vices of the wicked, the praises of the happy, the blasphemies of the victims sacrificed to his vengeance in hell? When we find in any heathen philosopher, amidst a thousand false notions, amidst a thousand wild imaginations, some few leaves of the flowers with which our bibles are strewed, we are ready to cry a miracle, a miracle, we transmit these shreds of the Deity (if I may be allowed to speak so) to the most distant posterity, and these ideas, all defective, and all defiled as they are, procure their authors immortal reputation. On this principle, what respect, what veneration, what deference ought we to have for the Patriarchs and the Prophets, for the Evangelists and the Apostles, who spoke of God in so sublime a manner! However, be not surprized at their superiority over the great pagan geniusses : had the biblical writers, like them, been guided only by human reason, like them they would have wandered too. If they spoke so nobly of God, it was because they had received that spirit who searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God, 1 Cor. ii. 10. It was because all scripture was given by inspiration, 2 Tim. iii. 16. It was because the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, 2 Pet. i. 21.
3. Make a third reflection. This attribute of God removes the greatest stumbling-blocks that sceptics and infidels pretend to meet with in religion. It justifies all those dark mysteries which are above the comprehension of our feeble reason. We would not make use of this reflection to open a way for human fancies, and to authorize every thing that is presented to us under the idea of the marvellous. All doctrines that are incomprehensible
are not divine, nor ought we to embrace any opinion merely because it is beyond our knowledge. But when a religion, in other respects, hath good guarantees, when we have good arguments to prove that such a revelation comes from heaven, when we certainly know that it is God who speaks, ought we to be surprized, if ideas of God, which come so fully authenticated, absorb and confound us? I freely grant, that, had I consulted my own reason only, I could not have discovered some mysteries of the gospel. Nevertheless, when I think on the immensity of God, when I cast my eyes on that yast ocean, when I consider that immense all, nothing astonishes me, nothing stumbles me, nothing seems to me inadmissible, how incomprehensible soever it may be. When the subject is divine, I am ready to believe all, to admit all, to receive all ; provided I be convinced that it is God himself who speaks to me, or any one on his part. After this, I am no more astonished that there are three distinct persons in one divine essence; one God, and yet a Father, a Son, and a Holy Ghost. After this, I am no more astonished that God foresees all without forcing any; permits sin without forcing the sinner; ordains free and intelligent creatures to such and such ends, yet without destroying their intelligence, or their liberty. After this, I am no more astonished, that the justice of God required a satisfaction proportional to his greatness, that his own love hath provided
satisfaction, and that God, from the abun dance of his compassion, designed the mystery of an incarnate God; a mystery which angels admire, while sceptics oppose; a mystery which absorbs human reason, but which fills all heaven with şongs of praise; a mystery, which is the great mystery, by excellence, 1 Tim. iji. 16. but the great
ness of which, nothing should make us reject, since religion proposeth it as the grand effort of the wisdom of the incomprehensible God, and commandeth us to receive it on the testimony of the incomprehensible God himself. Either religion must tell us nothing about God, or what it tells us must be beyond our capacities, and, in discovering even the borders of this immense ocean, it must needs exhibit a vast extent in which our feeble eyes are lost. But what surprizes me, what stumbles me,
, what frightens me, is to see a diminutive creature, a contemptible man, a little ray of light glimmering through a few feeble organs, controvert a point with the Supreme Being, oppose that Intelligence who sitteth at the helm of the world ; question what he affirms, dispute what he determines, appeal from his decisions, and, even after God hath given evidence, reject all doctrines that are beyond his capacity. Enter into thy nothingness, mortal creature. What madness animates thee? How darest thou pretend, thou who art but a point, thou whose essence is but an atom, to measure thyself with the Supreme Being, with him who fills heaven and earth, with him whom heaven, the heaven of heavens cannot contain ? 1 Kings viii. 27. Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty to perfection ? it is as high as heaven what canst thou do? deeper than hell what canst thou know ? Job xi. 7. He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing. He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds, the pillars of heaven tremble, and are astonished at his reproof : Lo these are parts of his ways, but how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of his power who can understand ? Gird up now thy loins like a man ; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.
Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth ? declare, if thou hast understanding, ch. Xxvi. 7. 11. 14. Who hath laid the measures thereof? who hath stretched the line upon it? whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? who laid the corner-stone thereof, rehen the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Who shut up the sea with doors, when I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddling band for it when I brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors, and said, Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed? ch. xxxviii. 1, 2, 3, &c. He that reproveth God let him answer this, ch. xl. 2. O Lord, such knowledge is too wonderful for me ; it is too high, I cannot attain unto it!
4. But, my brethren, shall these be the only inferences from our text ? shall we reap only speculations from this discourse ? shall we only believe, admire, and exclaim? Ah! from this idea of God, I see all the virtues issue which religion prescribes !
If such be the grandeur of the God I adore, miserable wretch! what ought my repentance to be! I, a contemptible worm, I, a creature whom God could tread beneath his feet, and crush into dust by a single act of his will, I have rebelled against the great God, I have endeavored to provoke him to jealousy, as if I had been stronger than he, 1 Cor. X. 22. I have insulted that Majesty which the angels of heaven adore ; I have attacked God, with madness and boldness, on his throne, and in his empire. Is it possible to feel remorses too cutting for sins which the majesty of the offended, and the littleness of the offender, make so very atrocious ?
If such be the grandeur of God, what should our humility be! Grandees of the world, mortal divini
ties, who swell with vanity in the presence of God;. oppose yourselves to the immense God. Behold his eternal ideas, his infinite knowledge, his generaF influence, his universal direction; enter his immense ocean of perfections and virtues, what are ye? a grain of dust, a point, an atom, a nothing.
If such be the grandeur of God, what ought our confidence to be! If God be for us, who can be against us ? Rom. vii. 31. Poor creature, tossed about the world, as by so many winds, by hunger, by sickness, by persecution, by misery, by nakedness, by exile; fear not in a vessel of which-God himself is the pilot.
But above all, if such be the grandeur of God, if God be every where present, what should our vigilance be! and, to return to the idea with which we began, what impression should this thought make on reasonable souls! God seeth me. When thou wast under the fig-tree, said Jesus Christ to Nathaniel, I saw thee, John i. 48. See Eccles: iii. 23, 24, 25. We do not know what Jesus Christ saw under the fig-tree, nor is it necessary now to inquire: but it was certainly something which, Nathaniel was fully persuaded, no mortal eye had seen: As soon, therefore, as Jesus Christ had uttered these words, he believed, and said, Rabbi, thon art the Christ, the son of the living God. My brethren, God useth the same language to each of you today: when thou wast under the fog-tree, I saw thee.
Thou hypocrite, when wrapped in a veil of religion, embellished with exterior piety, thou concealedst an impious heart, and didst endeavor to impose on God and man, - I saw thee. I penetrated all those labyrinths, I dissipated all those darknesses, I.dived into all thy deep designs.
Thou worldling, who, with a prudence truly infernal, hast the art of giving a beautiful tint to the