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wisely; and since all wise agents act to some purpose, and aim at some end, why (may it be inquired) did God make the world? what impulsive reason or inducement was there moving his will to do it? We may answer with Plato; ảya@òs mv, • He was good; and he that his good, doth not envy any good to any thing :'* his natural benignity and munificence was the pure motive that incited or invited him to this great action of communicating existence and suitable perfection to his creatures, respectively: no benefit or emolument could hence acerue to him; he could receive no accession of beatitude; he did not need any profit or pleasure from without, being full within, rich in all perfection, completely happy in the contemplation and enjoyment of himself. • Can a man,' can any creature, * be profitable to God? No; our goodness doth not extend to him;' we cannot anywise advance or amplify him thereby; it is because goodness is freely diffusive and communicative of itself; because love is active and fruitful in beneficence; because highest excellency is void of all envy, selfishness, and tenacity, that the world was produced such as it was ; those perfections being intrinsical to God's nature, (for God is love,' that is, essentially loving and good,) disposed him to bestow so much of being, beauty, delight, and comfort to his creatures. Hence, · The earth,' saith the psalmist, is full of the goodness of the Lord;' that is, every thing therein, according to its state and degree, is an effect of the divine goodness, partakes thereof both in its being and in its enjoyments; and, The Lord,' saith he again,' is good to all, and his tender mcrcies (or bis bowels of affection) are over all his works :' he is good, and tenderly kind toward all his works, as well in producing them as preserving them; in freely rendering them capable of receiving good, as in carefully providing, and liberally dispensing good unto them; That thou givest them (saith the psalmist, speaking with respect to the university of things) they gather; thou openest thine hand, they are all filled with good :' it is from God's open hand (that is, from his unconfined bounty and liberality) that all creatures do receive all that good which fills them ; which satisfieth their needs, and satiateth their desires :
* Sen. Ep. 65.
a glimpse of which truth the ancient Pagans seem to have had, when they, as Aristotle observed," did commonly suppose love to have been the first and chief of the gods; the original source and framer of things. But I will no longer insist on this point in way of doctrine or disquisition; I shall only adjoin a little application.
1. The belief and consideration of this point (that God is the Maker of heaven and earth) must necessarily beget in us highest esteem, admiration, and adoration of God, and his divine excellences, his power, wisdom and goodness : for what a power must that be (how unconceivably great, both intensively and extensively, must it be?) which could so expeditely and easily rear such a stupendously vast frame ? vast beyond the reach of our sense, of our imagination, of any rational collection that we can make ? the earth, on which we dwell, divided into so many great empires, full of so many inhabitants, bearing such variety of creatures different in kind, having in respect to the whole but the like proportion, as a little sand hath to the earth itself, or a drop of water to the great ocean? What a wisdom must that be, how unconceivably large and penetrant, that could contrive such an innumerable number of creatures, (the artifice which appears in one, in the least of which, doth so far transcend our conceit,) could digest them so fitly, could connect them so firmly in such an order ? goodness and benignity must it be, (how inimense and boundless !) that did extend itself in affection and care, creatures, abundantly providing for the need and comfort of them all! how transcendently glorious is the majesty of him, that was Author of all those beauties and strengths, those splendors and magnificences we do with so much pleasure and so much wonder behold! Well might the devout psalmist and divine prophet hence frequently take occasion of exciting us to praise and celebrate the perfections of God: well might even heathen philosophers from contemplation of the world be raised into fits of composing hymns and elogies of its great Maker.
2. This consideration likewise may confer to the breeding of
for so many
Metaph. i. 4.
hearty gratitude and humble affection toward God; for that we are on many accounts very nearly and highly concerned in this great production. We ourselves, whatever we are, and all we have, and all we enjoy; all our intrinsical endowments, and all our extrinsical accommodations are parts thereof, and did proceed from God; yea, all the whole frame was designed by him with a particular regard, and from an especial goodwill unto us; was fitted for our enjoyment and use : the world was made as a convenient house for us to dwell in, as a pleasant theatre for us to view, as a profitable school for our instruction, as a holy temple for us to perform offices of no less sweet than reasonable devotion ; for our benefit those buge orbs roll incessantly, diffusing their glorious light, and dispensing their kindly influences; for our sake the earth is decked with all that goodly furniture, and stored with all that abundance of comfortable provisions : all these things out of pure benevolence, not being moved with any desert of ours, not regarding any profit of his own, before any desire or any thought of ours (before we were capable of wishing or thinking) God was pleased to contrive, and to accomplish for us. We,' said a philosopher, “regard and esteenı ourselves overmuch, if we think ourselves worthy, that so great matters should be agitated for our sake :'* and the psalmist signifies the same, when, on contemplation of the world, he saith, When I consider the hea. vens, the works of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained, what is man that thou art mindful of him ? That the Author of so great and glorious a work should vouchsafe to regard so mean things as us, to visit us continually with a provident inspection and care over our welfare, to lay so vast projects, and accomplish so mighty works in regard to us; what a demonstration of admirable condescension, what a ground of wonder and astonishment, what an argument of love and thankfulness toward God is this !
3. Yea what a ground and motive to humility should this consideration be unto us! What is man? what, I say, is man, in comparison to him that made the world? what is our strength, what our wit, what our goodness, what any quality or
• Sen. de Ira, 27.
ability of ours, in respect to the perfection of those things in him ? how weak, silly, narrow, poor and wretched things must we needs appear to ourselves, when seriously we consider the immense excellences displayed in the world's creation ! how should this depress and debase us in our conceits about ourselves ! Especially if we reflect on our own unprofitableness, our ingratitude, and our injustice toward our Creator; how none, or how scant returns we have made to him, who gave unto us, and to all things for us, our being and theirs, our all and theirs ; how faint in our acknowlegements, how negligent in our services we have been ; yea how preposterously, instead of our due homage and tribute, we have repaid him affronts and injuries ; frequently opposing his will, and abusing his goodDess!
4. This consideration is farther a proper inducement unto trust and hope in God; and withal a fit ground of consolation to us in all our needs and distresses. He that was able to do so great things, and hath been willing to do so much for us; he that having made all things, can dispose of all, and doeth (as king Nebuchadnezzar, taught by experience, confessed) according to his will in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, so that none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou ? how can we distrust his protection or succor in our exigencies? This consideration good men have been wont to apply to such purposes : ‘My help,' saith the psalmist, 'cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth :' well might he be assured, having so potent and faithful an aid : and, · Happy,' saith he again, ' is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help; whose hope is in the Lord his God, which made heaven and earth; the sea, and all that therein is :' happy indeed he surely is; no disappointment or disaster can befall him, who doth with reason confide in him that made the world, and can manage it to his advantage. The prophet Jeremiah begins his prayer thus : 0 Lord God, behold, thou hast made heaven and earth by thy great power and stretched out arm; and there is nothing too hard for thee.' The creation of the world is such an experiment of God's power and goodness, as may support our faith in all encounters; so that we should not think any thing so difficult, but that God is able; nor so high, but that God is willing to perform for us, if it make toward our real good.
5. Finally, this consideration ministereth a general incitement unto all obedience; which from God's production of all things doth appear, on several accounts, due and reasonable ; all other things do constantly obey the law imposed on them, insist in the course defined to them; and shall we only be disobedient and refractory, irregular and exorbitant? shall all the hosts of heaven most readily and punctually obey God's summons? shall the pillars of heaven tremble, and be astonished at his reproof ?' shall “the sea, with its proud waves' be curbed and confined by his decree ? shall • fire and hail, snow and vapor, and stormy winds, (such rude and boisterous things,) fulfil his word ?' as they are all said to do; and shall we be unruly and rebellious ? we, who are placed in the top of nature, from whom all nature was made, to whom all nature serves; shall we only, of all things in nature, transgress against the Author and Governor of nature ?
But I leave the farther improvement of this grand point to your meditation, concluding with the exhortation of that angel in the Apocalypse : * Fear God, and give glory to him; worship him that made heaven and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of water :' even to him be all obedience, and adoration, and praise for ever and ever. Amen.