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fabric which we inhabit, and from which we view other creations around us, be constructed by a wise being, that wisdom must appear in its order and construction. The earth, therefore, with the heavens, the sun, and the stars with their regulated motions, our own bodies, and the several elements by which our bodies are sustained, all conspire to instruct us in our religion, and to fortify our faith. And let it not be supposed that the fabric of the universe is the temple in which natural religion only can be learned. It serves as the porch or entrance to revelation; and so St. Paul argues in his epistle to the Romans.
“ Because “ that which
be known of God is mani“ fest in (or to) them; for God hath showed “ it unto them. For the invisible things of
him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal
power and godhead.” In this magnificent temple, therefore, of the world it is our first duty to worship and serve the
a Rom. i. 19, 20.
Maker. I do not mean by incessant prayer, or never-ending contemplations, (these must recur at their due seasons,) but by the general tenor of our lives, by abstaining from whatsoever we know, through reason and revelation, must be offensive to a pure Being, who is here in the midst of all his work, is ever present to us, and witnesses all our actions; and by performing whatsoever must be agreeable to a nature infinitely beneficent; by diligently discharging the duties of our several stations, and imparting to others as we have the means and they have the want.
There is a degree of sanctity pervading the world itself, which should excite our
Whatever is good, (and God once pronounced this work of his hands good,) whatever in nature we see calculated to produce comfort, and diffuse happiness, is entitled to respect, because we therein trace the operation of a wise and beneficent Being. “God,” we say, “has been “ here:” we ascertain his presence by the works he has left behind him; the place whereon we stand is holy ground. “For “ that thy name,” that is, “ that thou art
“Mundum a Deo factum, quod Moses nos docet, igno“ rarunt philosophorum aliqui : at agnoverunt alii, et qui“ dem ita clare ut dixerit Plotinus: Si quis attendat, ex ipso “ mundo hanc quasi vocem auditurum, Deus me fecit *."
near,” says the Psalmist, “thy wondrous “ works declare." In this manner argued the wisest and most virtuous of the heathen world, if he may be called heathen, who, though born neither under the Jewish nor Christian dispensation, is still thought by many to have received a certain degree of inspiration. His life and doctrine, together with his peculiar manner of teaching, are minutely recorded and described by his disciples or constant attendants; and from the work of one of these I shall select the sage to which I more peculiarly refer, and which is most to our present purpose.
Addressing himself to one of his disciples, “ Has it ever occurred to you,” says this sage, “ to remark how carefully God has pro“ vided for us every thing that we want ?
Observe, in the first place, that we want
c Ps. lxxv. 2.-See Bishop Horne on the passage.
* Grotii Prolegomena ad Stobæum.
light: God has given it us. Which if he “ had not, we should be without the use of
one sense; we should be blind. But as
we have need of repose, God has afforded “ this in night, a grateful suspension of la
bour, and restitution of exhausted powers.” “ And worthy of the utmost thankfulness," adds the disciple.
Inasmuch, then, as the sun, by its brightness, renders objects conspicuous, and even “ enables us to distinguish the progress of
time, and as the stars and moon enable us “ to add whatever necessity requires to the “ labours of the day, and to observe the “ hours of night, and the lapse of months,” (you will here recollect the expression of Scripture, that “the lights in the firmament “ of heaven were for signs, and for seasons,
and for days, and for years,” and observe that this was written when the mechanical divisions of time were unknown, as they are now unknown, to a vast portion of the world,)
are not these things wise and good ?” Exquisitely so,” says the disciple. “ And as food is necessary for our support, the affording it to us from the earth,
“ and the adaptation of a course of seasons
requisite for its growth and maturity, by “ which we not only have the necessaries, “ but the comforts and enjoyments of life,
what think you of these things ?" says the preceptor. “That they are altogether the
proof of benevolence and wisdom in the
Being who performed them,” replies the disciple. “But,” continues the preceptor, “ the supplying the earth with water, and
the supplying it in such abundance too; “ water by means of which all things vege“tate and grow, and in their due season
come to maturity, water which is necessary “ for our support, and which must also
mingle with all the other productions, “ whether animate or inanimate, which
support us !” — “ This also is a proof “ of a providential wisdom,” interposes the pupil.
“ And then the giving to us, of all the “ creatures in the world, the means of cre
ating fire, the element which repels cold “ and darkness, the handmaid of the arts; “ fire which is necessary for every human “ work, and all human instruments, and