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say, It is desolate without man or beast, it is given into the hand of the Chaldeans. Men shall buy fields for money, and subscribe evidences, "ver. 25, 27, 42, 43, 44.
Jeremiah entered into these views, obeyed the command, and believed the promise; but to fortify himself against such doubts as the distance of its accomplishment might perhaps produce in his mind, he recollected the eminent perfections, and the magnificent works of him, from whom the promise
Noro when I had delivered the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch, says the prophet, I prayed unto the Lord, saying, Ah! Lord God, behold thou hast made the heaven and the carth by thy great power and stretched-out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee Thou art the great, the mighty God, the Lord of hosts is thy name, great in counsel and mighty in work.
The considering of the circumstances that attended the text is a sufficient determination of its end and design. The prophet's meaning, which is quite clear, is, that the wisdom of God perfectly comprehended all that would be necessary to reestablish the Jewish exiles in their own land; and that his power could effect it. The words are, however, capable of a nobler and more extensive meaning, and in this larger view we intend to consider them. God is great in counsel, either, as the words may be translated, great in designing and mighty in executing ; or, as the same phrase is rendered in Isaiah, wonderful in council, and excellent in working, ch. xxviii. 29.
We will endeavor to give you a just notion of the sublime subject in two different views.
1. We will consider the subject speculatively.
We intend, by considering the subject specula-tively, to evince the truth of the subject, the demonstration of which is very important to us. By considering it practically, we intend to convince yon, on the one hand, of the monstrous extravagance of those men, those little rays of intelligence, who, according to the wise man, pretend to set their wisdom and counsel against the Lord, Prov. xxi. 30. and, on the other, of the wisdom of those, who, while they regulate their conduct by his laws alone, commit their peace, their life, and their salvation to the care of his providence. This is what I propose to lay before you.
I. O Lord, thou art great in counsel, and mighty in work. Let us consider this proposition specula
. tively. I shall establish it on two kinds of proofs. The first shall be taken from the nature of God; the second from the history of the world, or rather from the history of the church..
1. My first proofs shall be taken from the nature of God; not that it belongs to a preacher to go very deeply into so profound a subject, nor to his auditors to follow all the reflections he could make : yet we wish, when we speak of the Supreme Being, that we might not be always obliged to speak super-ficially, under pretence that we always speak to plain people. We wish you had sometimes the laudable ambition, especially when you assist in this sacred place, of elevating your minds to those sublime objects, of the meditation of which, the occupations, to which your frailties and miseries, or, shall I rather say, your vitiated tastes enslave you, you are deprived in the ordinary course of your lives.
The nature of God proves that he is great in counsel. Consider the perfect knowledge that he hath of all possible beings, as well as of all the
beings which do actually exist. We are not only incapable of thoroughly understanding the knowdedge that he hath of possible beings; but we are even incapable of forming any idea of it. I am not sure that the reduction of all the objects of our knowledge to two ideas is founded in reason. I do not know whether we be not guilty of some degree of temerity in comprising all real existences in two classes : a class of bodies, and a class of spirits. I deave this question to philosophers; But I maintain, that it argues the highest presumption to affirm, even allowing that every being within our knowledge is either body or spirit, that every thing must be reducible to one of these classes, that not only all real existence, but even all possible existence, must necessarily be either body or spirit. I wonder how human capacities, contracted as they are within limits so narrow, dare be so bold as to prescribe bounds to their Creator, and restrain his intelligence within their own sphere. If it were allowable to advance any thing upon the most abstract subject that can be proposed, I would venture to say, it is highly probable, that the same depth of divine intelligence, which conceived the ideas of body and spirit, conceiveth other ideas without end: it is highly probable, that possibility, (if I may be allowed to say so) hath no other bounds than the infinite knowledge of the Supreme Being. What an unfathomable depth of meditation, my brethren! to glance at it is to confound one's selt. What would our perplexity be if we should attempt to enter it? The knowledge of all possible beings, diversified without end by the same intelligence that imagines them: What designs, or, as our prophet expresseth himself, What greatness of counsel doth it afford the Supreme Being?
But let us not lose ourselves in the world of possible beings; let us confine our attention to real existences: I am willing even to reduce them to the two classes, which were just now mentioned. Let each of you imagine, my brethren, as far as his ability can reach, how great the counsel of an intelligence must be, who perfectly knows all that can result from the various arrangements of matter, and from the different modifications of mind.
What greatness of counsels must there be in an intelligence, who perfectly knows all that can result from the various arrangements of matter? What is matter? What is body? It is a being divisible into parts, which parts may be variously arranged without end, and from which as many different bodies may arise, as there can be diversities in the arrangement of their parts. Let us proceed from small things to great. Put a grain of wheat to a little earth, warm that earth with the rays of the sun, and the grain of wheat will become an ear laden with a great many grains like that which produced them. Give the parts of these grains an arrangement different from that which they had in the ear, separate the finer from the coarser parts, mix a few drops of water with the former, and you will
procure a paste: produce a small alteration of the parts of this paste, and it will become bread : let the bread be bruised with the teeth, and it will become flesh, bone, blood, and so on. reasoning, that we have applied to a grain of wheat, may be applied to a piece of gold, or to a bit of clay, and we know what a multitude of arts in society have been produced by the knowledge, which mankind have obtained of the different arrangements of which matter is capable.
But mankind can perceive only one point of matter ; a point placed between two infinites; an infi
nitely great, and an infinitely small. Two sorts of bodies exist beside those that are the objects of our senses, one sort is infinitely great, the other sort is infinitely small. Those enormous masses of matter, of which we have only a glimpse, are bodies infinitely great, such as the sun, the stars, and an endless number of worlds in the immensity of space, to us indeed imperceptible, but the existence of which, however, we are obliged to allow. Bodies infinitely small are those minute particles of matter, which are too fine and subtile to be subject to our experiments, and seem to us to have no solidity, only because our senses are too gross to discover them, but which lodge an infinite number of organized beings.
Having laid down these indisputable data, let us see what may be argued from them. If the knowledge men have obtained of one portion of matter, and of a few different arrangements of which it is capable, hath produced a great number of arts that make society flourish, and without the help of which life itself would be a burden; what would follow if they could discover all matter? What would follow their knowledge of those other bodies, which now absorb their capacities by their greatness, and escape their experiments by their little
, ness? What would follow if they could obtain adequate ideas of the various arrangements of which the parts of bodies infinitely great and those of bodies infinitely small are capable? What secrets ! What arts! What an infinite source of supplies would that knowledge become!
Now this, my brethren, is the knowledge of the Supreme Being. The Supreme Being knows as perfectly all bodies infinitely great, and all bodies infinitely small, as he knows those bodies between both, which are the objects of human knowledge.