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more than the exact duty of their stations; and to avoid even the least appearance of evil; as they who would make their court to a prince, do not grudge any extraordinary service, attendance, or expense for him ; are cautious of so much as seeming to look toward what may be disagreeable to his humour
or inclination, or in the least favouring, or seeming to favour, those whom he does not approve. Did men in any rational and consistent manner believe the existence of a God, or think of bim as the Governor and Judge of the world, under whose immediate inspection we stand at all moments, we should see their conduct corrected and regulated by that constant awe and fear which becomes dependant, accountable beings, whose minds are duly impressed with a sense of their present condition and future expectations. Their belief would be practical as well as speculative. It would affect their hearts as well as impress their understandings.
How some men contrive to satisfy their own minds upon the subject of their duty to God is inconceivable. One would imagine it impossible for a being at all capable of thought to bring himself to believe, that though he owes his existence, his body, his soul, his reasoning faculty, speech, and all its powers, corporeal and mental, with whatever he enjoys now, or hopes for hereafter, to an infinitely perfect and amiable Being, who has made him capable of apprehending his perfections and his absolute power over him; one would imagine it impossible, I say, for a being endowed with a reasoning faculty, to believe all this, and yet think he owes no duty at all, no gratitude, love, or service; no positive adoration or praise to his Creator, Governor, and Judge. Yet is there, even in this enlightened age, and this land of knowledge, a person among an hundred who makes conscience of regularly and habitually performing, in a rational and devout manner, the positive duties of meditation upon the Divine perfections, in order to raise his mind to an imitation of them; of addressing God by prayer for the supply of all bis wants; or of praising him for the bounties received ? On the contrary, is there not too much reason to conclude, that by far the greatest part of mankind have not God in all their thoughts; or if they have, the thought of him. produces no visible effect? They attend the public worship indeed from a sense of decency; but it is plain, from the general levity of behaviour, that their hearts are not in it. And as for worshipping God daily in their houses, with their families, or by themselves, in their closets, they see no necessity for it, and conclude, that whoever lives soberly, and is goodnatured, though he habitually neglects the whole third part of his duty, is likely to meet with the divine approbation, and to be happy at last.
It is proved above, that the Author of all things must be infinite in his essence, and in all possible perfections, as wisdom, power, goodness, and rectitude. If so, it is evident, not only that he is the proper object of the admiration, love, gratitude, and every other noble affection, of the minds of such low creatures as mankind, who are probably the meanest of all rational beings; but that it is the glory of the highest archangel in heaven to adore Infinite Perfection; nay, that the whole of the reverence, love, and praise of any conceivable number of created beings, paid by them through all eternity, must fall infinitely short of what is justly his due ; because the whole of the tribute of honour and service, which all created beings can pay, will be finite; whereas the Divine Perfections are infinite: Now every finite is infinitely deficient when compared with what is infinite.
To be more particular; the consideration of the Divine Immensity, or Omnipresence, ought to strike every thinking, mind with the most profound awe and veneration, which ought to dwell upon it constantly and
habitually, of its being at all times surrounded with the Divinity which pervades all matter, and is the Spirit within every spirit, seeing, or rather intimately feeling, every motion of every mind in the universe. Whoever has just and habitual impressions of the Divine Omnipresence, will no more presume to do any thing amiss, or even to think a bad thought, than a considerate person will dare to behave rudely in the royal presence. A thinking mind considers itself as at all times, by day and by night, in public and in private, abroad and at home, in the immediate and intimate presence of the great King of the World, whose boundless palace is the wbole universe. It will therefore
be continually and habitually on its guard; and, as one who appears before an illustrious character, whose favour he greatly values, will be above all things fearful of misbehaving ; so will the considerate mind dread the danger of losing the approbation of the ever-present Judge, upon whom his fate depends, infinitely more than pain, or poverty, or shame, or death, and will cheerfully expose himself to any, or all of them, rather than act an unbecoming part before that Eye which is not to be deceived. He, who thinks how vice, or even frailty, must appear before that Being whose very nature is rectitude in perfection, and who knows not the least shadow of error or deviation; can he think of voluntarily departing from the eternal rule of right, or allowing himself in any practice which must offend Infinite Purity ?
The consideration of the eternity, or perpetual existence hereafter, of the Divinity, together with that of the neces sary immutability of his nature, suggests to the pious and welldisposed mind, the comfortable prospect, that after all the changes and revolutions which may happen to it, to the kingdoms, and empires of this world, and to the world itself; after all the visible objects which now are, have performed their courses, and are vanished, or renewed; after a period of duration long enough to obliterate from all human memory the idea of a sun, and stars, and earth; still He, who is now Governor of the Universe, will continue to fill the Supreme Throne, and to rule with boundless and uncontroled sway over his infinite dominions; and consequently, that whoever is so wise as to strive above all things to gain his favour, may depend upon being always secure of the enjoyment of the happiness assigned him by the general Judge, and that no change in the affairs even of the whole universe, will ever remove him from that station which has been appointed him. For the Universal Governor will raise no one to happiness hereafter but such as he finds qualified for it. Nor will the time ever come, when it will not be in his power to keep those beings happy which he has once made so; for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and of his kingdom there will never be an end. Nor will the time ever come, when he will change his purpose or scheme
of government; or, like a weak, earthly prince, degrade his favourites, or reverse his laws, or indulge uncertain caprice.
This shows the Supreme Being to be a very proper object of the trust of all his creatures. Had I the favour of all the crowned heads in the world, it is evident, that in so short a time as a century hence, it must be of no manner of value to me. Death will, in all probability, before that short period be elapsed, remove every one of them, and myself too into a state in which no favour will be of any avail but that of the King of Kings, upon whom they must be as much dependant as I. But to trust Him who is eternal in his nature, and unchangeable in his purpose, and who has it in his power to make and keep his favourites eternally happy, is building upon a sure foundation.
Here it is to be remembered, that it is only by a course of obedience that we have any pretence to trust in God. All confidence in him, that is not founded in welldoing, is vain and presumptuous, and will in the end be disappointed. As the king on the throne has power to raise any person whom he may judge worthy of honour, at the same time that it is vain and presumptuous to think of trusting to him in any other way than such as may be likely to gain his favour; so, though the Supreme King of the Universe has power to raise any of his creatures to inconceivable happiness, it is not to be expected that he will bestow his favour upon any but such as shall be found worthy of it: and his infinite wisdom will effectually prevent his being mistaken in his judgment of characters; and renders it impossible that he should bestow his approbation amiss: so that there is no ground of confidence for any but those who make it their sincere and diligent endeavour to gain the Divine favour in the way which he has appointed.
It is impossible to survey, with a discerning eye, the world which we inhabit, without reading the illustrious characters of power, wisdom, and goodness, which the Divine hand has inscribed upon it; each of which attri- ' butes suggests to us a set of duties, and therefore deserves our particular consideration.
To create, or bring into existence, one particle of mat
ter, which before was nothing, who can say what power i9 requisite ? The difference between nothing and a real existence, is strictly and properly infinite ; which seems to imply an infinite difficulty to be surmounted before one particle of matter can be produced : and no power, infe
rior to infinite, is equal to an infinite difficulty. Be that as - it will, it is unquestionable, that to produce great works,
requires proportionable power: and if the works of nature are not great, there is no greatness conceivable. The calling forth a world into being, had it been from its creation to remain for ever at rest, had been an effect worthy of Divine power. But to give a system, so huge and unwieldy, any degree of motion, much more to give a motion inconceivably swift, to masses of matter inconceivably bulky; to accommodate velocity to what is the most unfit for being moved with velocity ; to whirl a whole earth, a globe of twenty-five thousand miles round, with all its mountains and oceans, at the rate of near sixty thousand miles an hour; to carry on such an amazing motion for many thousands of years; to keep six such bodies in continual motion, in different planes, and with different velocities, round a common centre, at the same time that ten others are revolving round them, and going along with them; what amazing power is requisite to produce such effects!
How do we admire the effects produced by a combination of mechanic powers (which also act by Divine Power, or Laws of Nature) in raising weights, and overcoming the vis inertiæ of matter? What should we think of a machine, constructed by human hands, by which St. Paul's church, or a little hill, should be transported half a mile from its place, with ever so slow a motion ? But the greatest mountain is no more in comparison with the whole earth, than a grain of sand to a mountain. Yet the whole cumbrous mass of earth has been whirled round the sun, for these five thousand years and upwards, with a rapidity frightful to think of, and for any thing we know, with undiminished force : and the comet in 1680-81, must,
according to the Newtonian principles, have moved in its | perihelion, or nearest approach to the sun, at the rate of
above a million of miles in an hour; which was a flight