« ZurückWeiter »
contrive or execute.
The bird weaves a nest of untractable materials, which it deposes and adjusts without any difficulty. The bee designs with unerring skill what no geometrician could teach, and measures its work in the dark. As a chemist, it has the grand secret of transmutation, extracting the sweetest of meat froin the most poisonous of herbs. See how wise all these are, without the tedious forms of practice and experience! they have no elements to learn, but are well read by immediate infusion. From the same power, and in the same compendious manner, did the Apostles, on the day of Pentecost, attain to the knowledge of all languages without learning them. The working of God is to us as unaccountable in the one way of teaching as in the other. And doth not God still give to man a sense and a power superior to reason, when he appears plainly to have given such a power to inferior creatures ? Will not he still teach man, who continueth to teach the beasts of the earth, and the fowls of heaven? Therefore, if any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who certainly will give to men as liberally as to brutes; and they have a promise that they shall be answered if they apply for direction. Where shall the ant or the bee go, but to the Creator, to learn what no reason of man can teach them ? And whither shall man go but to the same teacher? The knowledge he wants is no: from himself, but from the Spirit of Truth, and the word of Revelation; and now, by the sending of the Holy Ghost, and the publication of the Gospel, we see fulfilled which was written in the prophets, they shall be all taught of God: the grace of God hath been given to all nations as universally as instinct hath been infused into all the kinds of living creatures: and so God is just and equal in all his works: what we have
not in the ordinary way of nature, we obtain in the extraordinary way
grace; which is the better and the wiser way upon all accounts; and he, who pretends to have by nature what God giveth by grace, is more unprovided, and in a worse condition, than the beasts that perish.
6. Upon the whole, the animal world sets before us the most evident assurances of the Divine wisdom, power, and goodnesss : and our duty, in respect to this subject, is equally plain from what has been said. As the government of all creatures is committed to man by the Creator, not obtained by chance, it must be considered as a trust, which we are seriously and faithfully to discharge. We think few men are fit to be kings, and are strangely apprehensive of despotism : yet is every man an absolute monarch over these poor brute subjects; often shamefully abused by the wanton, the passionate, and the hard-hearted! A rightecus man, who doeth good from a sense of duty, regardeth the life of his beast *: he abstains from all cruelty; he rewards the labour of his brute servants and domestics, and delights to render their lives as easy and comfortable as he can; knowing that he must give an account of this as of every other trust. In their natural capacity, he uses them for his benefit with thankfulness to their Maker: in their intellectual application, he derives improvement to his mind from the contemplation of their natures. That man is a poor animal, not worthy of the name of a man, who looks upon beasts as beasts look upon him, and learns nothing from them; when a wise man may gather so much instruction to serve him in every relation of life, whether natural, social, civil, or religious.
# Prov. xii. 10.
When we see what wisdom is found in the beasts of the earth, and fowls of the heaven; how they perform what surpasses the power of reason, because God worketh in them; let us apply to their Teacher, that he may assist us in all the works necessary to the saving of our souls: that we may be as wise for the next world as they are for their well-being in this world. Whatsoever gifts and talents are necessary to them, they have by nature without asking; for they cannot ask : what we want we inust pray for ; God having made his teaching unto us an object of choice, and endued us with speech for the great ends of praying to him and praising him. To Him therefore, who is the only wise, who only hath immortality, the Lord and giver of life, who is magnified in all his works, even the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, three persons and one God, be ascribed all honour, glory, power, and dominion, now and for evermore. Amen.
AND GOD SAID, LET THE WATERS UNDER
HEAVEN BE GATHERED TOGETHER UNTO
PLACE, AND LET THE DRY LAND APPEAR: AND IT WAS SO. AND GOD CALLED THE DRY LAND
EARTH, AND THE GATHERING TOGETHER OF THE WATERS CALLED HE SEAS: AND GOD SAW THAT IT WAS GOOD. GEN. I. 9, 10.
The earth is generally considered as the place of man's habitation, and the theatre of those various actions which have filled the pages of history. When we take the earth in this sense, we find it a bad and a troublesome world, a scene of error and confusion, in which the exploits of the mischievous bear away the prize from the actions of the virtuous, and the most wicked of men are celebrated as the benefactors of mankind. Here warlike nations have extended their borders, and erected kingdoms, which appeared in great splendor for a time, to serve the purposes of God's providence, and then vanished away like a fiery meteor of the night. Here have busy men, by fraud and violence, obtained large possessions, which soon changed their owners, and raised magnificent buildings, which are fallen into the dust. Thus do all the works of men upon earth pass away, while the earth itself, which is the work of God, and is innocent of all the evil that is done upon it, standeth sure, and his building suffereth no decay.
This is the carth which I would now propose to your consideration; the natural history is very different from its political; and, I trust, we shall find it both an agreeable and an edifying subject.
Writers, who have given us descriptions of the natural world, have divided it into three grand departments, or kingdoms, of plants, animals, and minerals. Of plants and animals I have trreated in two former discourses : and I shall proceed now to the consideration of the earth and its minerals; in which we shall every where see the most evident proofs of the wisdom and goodness of God, and by which the truth of his revelation will be illustrated and confirmed
I shall enter into no new curious theories : nor will there be any occasion for it. The great outlines of nature are fittest for all the purposes of Christian edification. The plainest things, and such as are best understood by every capacity, are generally the most wonderful, and the most improving to the mind that meditates upon them. Where there is much curiosity and difficulty, there is frequently less profit.
The words of the text relate the generation or birth of what is called the Earth; that immense body of land and water, which human writers call the terraqueous globe ; from which we learn, that, as the dry land did not appear till the waters were gathered together, the land was formed under water. The wisdom of this mode of formation is evident; although the progress of it must be above our comprehension. For in water all the materials of the earth were easily moved; and by means of water, solution, separation, association, and subsidence are manifestly promoted;